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Ocean City Council Election: 4 Clear Winners, 1 Tight Race

Ocean City Council Election: 4 Clear Winners, 1 Tight Race

By Vince Conti

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OCEAN CITY – With nine candidates vying for five seats on the City Council, a lot was at stake in the Tuesday, May 14, nonpartisan municipal elections. The council has a total of seven members.

Although the results will be unofficial until later this month, all of the races but one are unlikely to change with the final results.

The one razor-thin margin of victory that may still be at risk is in the Third Ward, where council incumbent Jody Levchuk was holding onto a two-vote margin over newcomer Amie Vaules, who had the support of Mayor Jay Gillian. With 781 votes reported, Levchuk had 391 and Vaules 389. There was one write-in vote.

There are provisional ballots still to be counted that could change the Third Ward results.

In the Second Ward, Keith Hartzell, who had served 16 years on the council, won back a seat by defeating Gillian-supported newcomer Paul Stryker in a 353 to 302 vote. Hartzell had stepped down from the council to run against Gillian for mayor in 2022. Gillian won that election.

In the only at-large seat that was open, Gillian-supported newcomer Sean Barnes won with 58% of the vote over former Councilman Michael DeVlieger. In a candidates forum held just before the election, DeVlieger accused Gillian of being in the pocket of developers. The at-large vote was 1,778 for Barnes to 1,261 for DeVlieger.

The Fourth Ward saw incumbent David Winslow, whom DeVlieger called a “pawn” of Gillian, retain his seat with a comfortable 512 to 380 vote win over former board of education member Cecilia Gallelli-Keyes.

An uncontested race in the First Ward saw voters send current council Vice President Terry Crowley back to the governing body with 96% of the vote.

Five candidates – Crowley, Stryker, Vaules, Winslow and Barnes – had the endorsement of FOCUS, a citizen organization founded in March. As it stands now, FOCUS-endorsed candidates managed to win two of the four contested races. FOCUS endorsed the Gillian-supported candidates.

Voter turnout was about one-third of the city’s 9,490 registered voters.

Contact the reporter, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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