By Maddy Vitale
Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian and a crowd of supporters headed into the City Clerk’s office Wednesday morning, where he handed in his nominating petitions for the May 8 municipal election.
The mayor was accompanied by his wife Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, their children, members of City Council, and others who came out to show support.
Gillian is seeking his third, four-year term. Former Councilman John Flood turned in his petitions Monday to challenge Gillian for top post.
The mayor, who took office in 2010, told a packed room in City Hall, that he is grateful to those who have stood by him in his efforts to keep the city going in the right direction.
“Guys, I couldn’t have done it without you these last eight years,” Gillian said. “Thank you.”
Since taking office, Gillian has implemented numerous capital projects, including repairs and improvements to sidewalks and roads.
The Boardwalk was reconstructed during Gillian’s tenure and several drainage projects to reduce coastal flooding were completed, while others are underway. Dredging shallow back bays has also been one of his major projects. Another one of his priorities is renovating or replacing the public safety building, he has said.
“To me, it all started with unity in the community. I wanted everyone to work together through good times and bad,” Gillian, 53, said in an interview after he handed in his petitions. “We have spent eight years rebuilding the infrastructure of our town. I could not do it without the support of the community.”
The mayor said it comes down to a love for Ocean City and a good work ethic.
“I’m not a politician. I’m a statesman,” Gillian remarked. “I believe in hard work. That is how I was raised.”
Gillian is the owner of his family’s Boardwalk amusement business, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, which was started by his grandfather, David, in 1929. He got into public service through his father, Roy Gillian, a former Ocean City mayor.
Flood, Gillian’s challenger, was on Council from 1988 to 1996. In 2011 he filled an unexpired term of then Councilwoman Susan Sheppard after she was elected to the Cape May County Board of Freeholders. She is now a Superior Court judge.
Flood, 65, is a lifelong Ocean City resident, who owns commercial properties in the resort. He said in a press release earlier this week, that he spoke with concerned citizens who want to see more open and accessible government. He said that inspired him to run for mayor.
In addition to the mayoral race, the election will include three at-large City Council seats. Incumbents Peter Madden, Karen Bergman and Keith Hartzell are seeking re-election. They turned in their petitions previously, according to the City Clerk’s Office.
No other Council candidates have announced as of Wednesday afternoon.
Candidates have until March 5 to submit their nominating petitions. Petitions must be signed by a minimum of 1 percent of the city’s 9,270 registered voters for candidates to have their names placed on the ballot.