By Donald Wittkowski
City Council members Karen Bergman and Peter Madden announced Wednesday they are seeking re-election, saying they want to preserve a “good team” that has overseen an unprecedented level of capital investment in Ocean City from the bay to the Boardwalk.
Joined by Mayor Jay Gillian and about 35 supporters at City Hall, Bergman and Madden formally kicked off their campaign for their at-large Council seats by taking out petitions for the May 8 municipal election.
Gillian, who announced in December that he is also seeking re-election, praised Bergman and Madden for their accomplishments on Council.
“They’ve done an amazing job. We all work well together,” Gillian said. “I’m supportive of the whole Council.”
Council members serve four-year terms. In addition to the mayoral race, all three at-large Council seats are up for election this year. Candidates have until March 5 to submit their election petitions.
Madden, 40, who has served as Council president for the past two years, is seeking his second term.
Bergman, 56, won election in 2016 to fill the unexpired term of former at-large Councilman Michael Allegretto, who resigned in 2015 to become the city’s director of Community Services.
Bergman served as a Second Ward councilwoman from 2008 to 2012, but chose not to seek re-election in 2012. She returned to the governing body in 2015, when she was unanimously appointed by Council to temporarily fill Allegretto’s vacant seat leading up to the 2016 election.
Both Madden and Bergman have strong ties to the business community through their full-time jobs. Madden is broker and manager of the Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach real estate office on Battersea Road. Bergman is the director of catering at the Flanders Hotel.
Although he wasn’t with Bergman and Madden for Wednesday’s announcement, Councilman Keith Hartzell is also running for re-election for his at-large seat, Madden said. Hartzell, who has the support of Bergman and Madden, won his first election in 2006 and is seeking his fourth term.
It is not yet clear whether Gillian, Bergman, Madden and Hartzell will face opposition. City Clerk Melissa Rasner said Wednesday that no other mayoral or Council candidates have taken out petitions yet.
Speaking together in an interview at City Hall, Bergman and Madden stressed that they want to continue the work they have done in cooperation with the mayor and the rest of Council.
“Karen and I are very much on the same page,” Madden said.
Bergman touted both her experience and Madden’s in helping the mayor and Council steer through an unprecedented level of capital improvements, including a $10 million facelift for the tourist-friendly Boardwalk, a series of drainage projects to reduce coastal flooding and the dredging of the shallow back bays.
“Right now, Council is working as a good team,” Bergman said.
“Working together as a group, we’ve been able to accomplish a significant amount of work,” Madden added.
In 2017, Council approved the mayor’s proposed $112.2 million, five-year capital plan – the largest in city history. Big-ticket items in the capital plan included upgrades to the Boardwalk, drainage improvements to alleviate flooding and dredging projects to clear out the sediment-choked lagoons along the bayfront.
Gillian’s administration is scheduled to unveil the newest version of the proposed five-year capital plan at Thursday night’s Council meeting. Bergman and Madden said they are anxious to hear details of the plan, noting that it will establish the next round of critical capital improvements for the city’s infrastructure.
One major project expected to come before Council and the mayor this year is the fate of the public safety building, an antiquated facility that serves as the headquarters for the police department, municipal court and city’s social services.
Gillian originally proposed tearing down the building and replacing it with an all-new public safety complex. Later, after changing his mind, he proposed renovating and expanding the building at a cost of $17.5 million.
Now, Gillian wants to analyze the project even more before making a final decision with Council’s approval. The red-brick building, which was originally a school, is more than 100 years old and badly in need of updating.