CHESAPEAKE CITY — The town has two new councilmen after Ed O’Hara and Randy McLennan took their oaths of office Monday, after being appointed to open seats.
The men were the second and third place finishers for the three open seats in the June 3 town election — Councilman Frank Vari was also re-elected with the most votes — and typically they would have been sworn in at the town’s July meeting.
However, one seat on the council was vacant prior to the town election after Councilwoman Rebecca Mann resigned in April. Then on June 4, the day after the election, Councilwoman Carolyn Blevins also submitted her resignation after failing to secure a new term.
With two open seats open on the five-member council, Mayor Rich Taylor proposed appointing the election’s winners to the seats in an unusually early arrangement to ensure input on town issues. On Monday, the three remaining council members unanimously approved their appointments.
Next month, the two men will have to take their oaths again, along with Vari, as they officially begin their two-year terms.
For all of the unusual proceedings, neither O’Hara or McLennan were perturbed by their early seatings in town. With the town’s sewer and trash contracts coming up for a vote later this month, they said they were welcome to get up to speed on the issues as soon as possible.
Some of that learning on the fly was evident as O’Hara abstained from voting on a new traffic enforcement contract with Maryland State Police.
The town began contracting with MSP rather than the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office last year to conduct periodic traffic enforcement details in town after complaining for years about a need to crack down on speeders.
On Monday, First Sgt. Joseph Catalano, assistant commander of the North East Barrack, and Senior Trooper Jason Proctor attended the town meeting to present the new contract and answer any questions that officials had.
The new one-year contract to end June 30, 2020, has a slightly higher maximum hourly rate of $88.93, compared to $88.35 last year, but remains otherwise unchanged in its terms.
“I think the feedback I get from people in town is that they like the change in police force, so I’m in favor of extending the contract,” Councilman Lee Adams said.
He was joined by his colleagues in voting 4-0 to approve, with O’Hara abstaining and saying, “I don’t know what I’m voting on … I need to know more.”
According to the monthly report for May, which Proctor said had fewer scheduled hours due to the impending end of the fiscal year’s funds, troopers continue to issue tickets at a fairly high clip.
In May, troopers conducted 94 traffic stops in town, issuing 54 citations and 92 warnings, Proctor reported. They also made one arrest for driving under the influence and responded to eight calls for service.
Comparatively, in May and June 2018 combined, sheriff’s deputies reported issuing 15 citations.