Home Latest Stories Councilman Tom Rotondi Files Petitions for Ocean City Election

Councilman Tom Rotondi Files Petitions for Ocean City Election

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Surrounded by his family, Councilman Tom Rotondi hands his nominating petitions to City Clerk Melissa Rasner.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI

City Councilman Tom Rotondi submitted his nominating petitions Monday, joining five other candidates in a crowded field vying for three at-large Council seats in Ocean City’s May 10 municipal election.

He was joined by his wife, Stephanie, and their children, Tommy, 8, Celeste, 4, and Joey, 2, while turning in his petitions to City Clerk Melissa Rasner.

Rotondi, 43, currently serves as the Second Ward councilman, but will now seek an at-large seat representing the entire city on the governing body. He was elected to his first term on Council in 2020.

“I’m proud of the work we, as Council, have been able to do in the less than two years since I have been elected to serve this community. Although the needs of my family have changed, my passion and commitment to this town has not. I am seeking the at-large seat so that I can continue to lead and be able to have the flexibility to meet the housing needs of my growing family,” he said in a statement.

He noted that he was joined by his wife and children while turning in his nominating petitions to underscore his commitment as a public service to “putting Ocean City’s families first.”

For their petitions, candidates must collect at least 97 valid signatures, a number that reflects the required 1 percent of the city’s 9,654 registered voters.

Other Council candidates submitted their nominating petitions either last week or in February. In addition to Rotondi, they include at-large Council incumbents Karen Bergman and Pete Madden, former First Ward Councilman Michael DeVlieger, local environmental advocate Donna Moore and political newcomer John “Tony” Polcini.

Separate from the Council race, Mayor Jay Gillian is facing a challenge from at-large Councilman Keith Hartzell in the mayoral election May 10. Hartzell must leave his Council seat to run for mayor.

Holding his 4-year-old daughter, Celeste, Tom Rotondi heads to City Hall with his wife, Stephanie, and sons Tommy, 8, and Joey, 2.

Rotondi serves as Council’s vice president, second only to Council President Bob Barr for the governing body’s leadership positions.

Last year, Rotondi led Council’s efforts to create a prequalified pool of engineering companies to help the city secure competitive bids for municipal contracts. He estimated the new procurement process has resulted in a more than 30 percent savings for the city in engineering contracts.

“I took the time to examine the existing contract procurement process. Having seen that one engineering firm had received over 60 no-bid contracts totaling nearly $7 million dollars, I built out what is now a pool of qualified engineering firms,” Rotondi said in his statement. “Now all engineering contracts must go into this pool. This initiative has lowered our costs by 30-plus percent.”

Rotondi was referring to ACT Engineers Inc., a Robbinsville, N.J., engineering and environmental firm that has served as a key Ocean City consultant since 2015 for an array of flooding and dredging projects through no-bid professional services contracts.

In recent months, ACT Engineers had drawn criticism from members of Council and private groups such as the Ocean City Flooding Committee for the amount of money it has charged the city for consulting work. Those complaints prompted Rotondi to propose the creation of the pool of prequalified engineering firms to get the best prices for city contracts.

As another accomplishment in his first two years on Council, Rotondi pointed to his call for an independent investigation into allegations that female members of the Ocean City Beach Patrol were sexually harassed or abused by male lifeguards.

“At the Council meeting on April 22, 2021, I immediately pushed for an independent investigation by the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office and called for a tip line to be established for Beach Patrol members who wanted to report inappropriate activity,” he said. “This effort has resulted in the establishment of new protocols and leadership throughout the Beach Patrol.”

Tom Rotondi, left, was appointed as City Council’s vice president in August 2021.

Rotondi, a former police officer, called the allegations of sexual harassment involving the Beach Patrol “one of the most serious situations that has faced our community in recent years.”

“When I first learned of the serious sexual allegations affecting our Beach Patrol, I thought of my daughter Celeste. She is 4 years old, but one day I hope she can join the Beach Patrol and continue our family’s tradition of service here in Ocean City. The young ladies who work so hard to protect the beachgoers that enjoy Ocean City every summer are daughters, too. These wonderful young women should be celebrated, not subjected to inappropriate behavior,” he said in his statement.

After serving in the U.S. Army from 1997 to 2000, Rotondi became a Lower Township police officer and then a corrections officer for the State Department of Corrections.

“The main reason I want to stay in the leadership on Council is to show people that I am willing to stand up for them,” he said.

He currently works as a business consultant specializing in employee benefits.