Ocean City Patch sent a series of questions to each candidate in this year's elections. The questions listed below are listed as sent, and each answer is published as received, with corrections for minor errors.
The subject of today's "Meet the Candidate" profile is Eric Sauder.
Why are you running?
After years of community activism, I have come to realize that the only way to effect change is from within.
There are so many opportunities to improve our city that are not explored. What we need is a “can do” attitude. What we say we can’t do is often defined by what we didn’t want to do, what we didn’t do or what we never tried to do. I believe you only accomplish what you set out to do.
What sets me apart as a candidate is my vision for Ocean City. I see it thriving not only as a first class resort, but as a vibrant year-round community.
As a citizen of Ocean City, I want to have a meaningful choice in this election. I want to give you a choice as well. As an independent candidate – not tied to any special interest – I am free to represent all residents and taxpayers in this community. This town …and this vote are yours.
What do you feel are the most pressing issues?
Our first priority should be to try to restore our year-round population and business community. We need to aggressively market Ocean City not only as a great place to vacation, but as a great place to live – zoning for and building the kind of housing that will be attractive and affordable to younger families and retirees. We need to stop zoning for profitability and start zoning for viability.
It is unbelievable that out of a $70 million annual budget, we can’t find money to address our basic needs. We need to take a long, hard look at how we spend money.
City departments must justify their needs with enough public information to allow both public officials and taxpayers to fairly evaluate their requests and to explore less costly alternatives.
In the last several years, we have watched our infrastructure deteriorate. Finally, in the fourth year of this administration and the eighth year of our incumbent council candidates, we are beginning to address our huge infrastructure and maintenance needs with a capital plan that borrows $50 million dollars over the next five years. We need to catch up, but the key is to allocate adequate funds out of the annual budget for infrastructure and maintenance on an annual basis.
“We are all working together as a team” is a phrase often repeated by our current administration. But American democracy is based on a system of checks and balances.
Divergent opinions and interests from people of goodwill need a place at the table. We have a wealth of expertise and experience among our citizens that is largely untapped. They must be heard.
What changes would you make to what the current council is doing?
The problem I have with the current council is with its agenda. It has been preoccupied with zoning and building ordinances designed to create business opportunities for real estate and development to the exclusion of almost everything else. There are other issues critical to the viability of our community that must be our first priority.
Our population has dropped from around 17,000 to 11,000 as of the last census. There has been little new commercial investment. If Ocean City is to survive as a community and remain a first class vacation resort, we have to address those issues.
What are some of the positive things you believe the current council is doing?
I am relieved that we are finally beginning to address our neglected infrastructure and flooding problems (in at least some of our neighborhoods). Yet there is so much more to do. I can only hope, going forward, that we address basic infrastructure maintenance within the annual budget. As the saying goes “a stitch in time saves nine.”
What do you bring to council that no one else can bring. i.e. strengths, experience, etc?
Independence. A fresh point of view. Honesty, integrity, and a genuine passion to see Ocean City thrive as both a first class resort and a vibrant community. When I look at Ocean City I think of what we can do to improve our town as opposed to how we can profit from it. This is the place you and I call home. Instead of taking from it we need to give back to Ocean City and plan and build for its future.
What is your political background? What offices have you held/run for in the past?
The funny thing about it is I have never been all that interested in politics. I’m not a politician. I am someone who cares deeply about Ocean City. That is why I have been involved as a political activist and why I am now a candidate for council.
I want to have a meaningful choice in this election. I want to give you a choice as well.
* Former Audit Officer for bank holding company and Systems Analyst for Case New Holland
* Resident of Ocean City for past 10 years and family property owner since 1963
* Active in community organizations and as a community advocate
* Frequent attendee at City Council, Planning Board and Zoning Board meetings
* First entered political arena when working on last council campaign
* Father of three children – two sons and one daughter