OCEAN CITY - Candidates in a rare November Ocean City Council race will face an unusual predicament.
The winner will have to start campaigning for re-election about 100 days after being sworn into office. The unexpired term to fill the 3rd Ward seat vacated by Cape May County Freeholder Susan Sheppard lasts only six months.
Dr. Steven Fenichel, a dermatologist, is running against Tony Wilson, owner of Wilson's Plumbing and Heating.
"I'm not looking at this as a six-month term. I'm not putting my toes in the water to see how it feels. I'm not looking at this as a trial run," Wilson said. "It's going to be a 54-month term."
Fenichel said he is taking one election at a time.
"If I feel like I'm pounding my head against a wall, I don't know I'd want to try for a four-year term," Fenichel said. "Then six months would be enough to see how much effectiveness I would have."
Council in January appointed former Councilman John Flood to fill Sheppard's term through the general election. Flood is not seeking election in November, the only race in Ocean City.
Ocean City normally has nonpartisan elections in May.
The 3rd Ward stretches from 12th to 26th streets and includes parts of the Boardwalk and downtown.
Wilson, a graduate of Ocean City High School and LaSalle University, belongs to the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce and the civic group the Exchange Club.
Fenichel, a graduate of Vineland High School, has helped screen members of the Ocean City Beach Patrol for signs of skin cancer. Mayor Jay Gillian appointed Fenichel to the city's Ethics Commission.
Both candidates said the 3rd Ward needs more attention paid to road and drainage improvements and lagoon dredging.
"A lot of folks I talked to expressed an interest that dredging take place. They can't use their boat slips," Wilson said. "At mid-tide, we can't get our boat out either."
Wilson said if elected he will keep taxes in check while maintaining the services Ocean City residents have come to expect.
"People are very happy with Ocean City. They just want to make sure their tax dollars are used wisely," he said.
Fenichel agreed lagoon dredging needs attention in Ocean City. He said he would make sure that any dredging would address potential environmental contamination contained in the spoils.
Fenichel said he is using his candidacy to bring attention to pollution at the nearby B.L. England power plant. The plant in Beesleys Point is one of southern New Jersey's biggest polluters, the annual Toxics Release Inventory compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency says.
The plant's air emissions typically blow over Ocean City, given the prevailing winds.
"People in Beesleys Point would never host that plant if they didn't have that tall chimney," Fenichel said.
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