By Donald Wittkowski
City Council members Karen Bergman, Keith Hartzell and Peter Madden will, no doubt, feel extraordinarily confident of their chances of winning re-election when they step into the voting booth.
That’s because the three incumbents will face absolutely no opposition in Ocean City’s May 8 municipal election.
No other Council candidates submitted nominating petitions by Monday’s filing deadline, ensuring that Bergman, Hartzell and Madden will run unopposed for a new four-year term on the governing body.
Mayor Jay Gillian, however, will be challenged by former Councilman John Flood in the mayoral election. As previously reported by OCNJDaily.com, both Gillian and Flood turned in their nominating petitions last week, setting up a clash between two experienced, high-profile politicians.
Bergman, Hartzell and Madden, though, will face no such drama while running unopposed in the election for the three at-large Council seats. All three said Monday they believe the lack of opposition suggests that voters are satisfied with the direction the city is heading during their time on Council.
“Generally, people are happy with the way things are going in Ocean City,” Madden said. “Right now, we’re working together and getting things done.”
Madden, 40, who has served as Council president for the past two years, is seeking his second term. He is the broker and manager of the Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach real estate office on Battersea Road.
Bergman, who has been touting the teamwork between Council and Gillian’s administration, agreed with Madden about voter sentiment.
“I think people are happy,” she said. “I don’t think people want to break up our team. That’s a good thing. I’m proud to be part of the Council and the administration.”
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. She is the director of catering at the Flanders Hotel.
Expressing surprise that no other candidates are running, Hartzell said he always assumed he would have an opponent when he began campaigning in January. Despite running unopposed, he said he still plans to go door to door to meet with voters in the next two months heading into the election.
“I’m extremely humbled that I’m not going to be challenged. I hope that’s an indication that we’re doing a good job,” he said.
Hartzell, 61, is the longest-serving member on Council. He first won election in 2006 and is seeking his fourth term. He is the regional sales manager for von Drehle Corp., a manufacturer of paper towels and tissue products.
City Council includes seven members altogether. Council’s four ward seats were up for election in 2016.
In the past two years, Council and the mayor have been focusing on an array of capital improvements, including beach replenishment, upgrades to the tourist-friendly Boardwalk, a series of drainage projects to reduce coastal flooding and the dredging of the shallow back bays.