UPDATE: Wagner not seeking reelection; endorses Guinosso

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OCEAN CITY — City Councilman Roy Wagner announced he would not seek reelection this spring after serving on City Council for eight years. In his place, Wagner is endorsing Pete Guinosso for the 4th Ward seat.

Wagner made the announcement Friday afternoon from Our Lady of Good Counsel at 40th Street and Central Avenue.

“The big announcement for me is, I’ve decided not to run,” he started.

Wagner has served for eight years on City Council and before that, four years on the Zoning Board.

“This is not an easy decision, but I have to take into account my family, which are scattered all over the 50 states, my investments … and the two terms are just right for me,” he said.

Wagner said he is only “semi-retiring” as he will participate fully as a citizen, as well as going to church and doing housework for his wife.

“I believe I have done my yeoman’s part of the work of listening to them and voting consistently for their best interests,” Wagner said.

“Because I have so much experience in the 4th Ward, I naturally would want to have a person succeeding me to be independent, knowledgeable and an energetic representative,” he said before giving his endorsement of Guinosso.

Wagner said Guinosso, who is currently in his fourth year serving on the Planning Board, was a proven citizen activist.

“He’s on the ecumenical council, he’s active in the food cupboard and when the former mayor was here, he served on the mayor’s community based advisory committee and also the mayor’s budget task force and then and still is an officer of Fairness in Taxes,” he said. Wagner said that Guinosso does research and is a meaningful citizen commenter at City Council meetings.

“He has time, he has experience and he has the tools necessary for the 4th Ward,” Wagner said.

Guinosso, 71, lives on Central Avenue with his wife, Cathy. They have four sons.

Guinosso grew up in Philadelphia. He worked for UPS as a district engineering manager for 35 years before retiring in 1997. In 2000, Guinosso and his wife, who have owned property in the city since the 1970s, moved to Ocean City full-time.

Guinosso said that if elected, his goals coincide with what Wagner has been doing on council: taxes, infrastructure and overdevelopment.

“I think the fourth one on my list is now transparency, openness of government,” he said.

According to Guinosso, the citizens need to have a better understanding of how government works.

He said he also wants to focus on fixing up the city’s infrastructure, especially in areas of poor drainage and damaged roadways.

“In the 4th Ward, we definitely need that,” Guinosso said. “We’re nowhere near correcting the problem.

“With the amount of money that we’re putting into roads … that is not enough.”

As a member of the Planning Board, which is currently undertaking the city’s master plan reexamination, Guinosso said he is concerned that Ocean City has lost 25 percent of its population.

“The emphasis now seems to be, how many new single family homes we can develop in Ocean City so we can bring the people back in,” he said. “They don’t want to move into a duplex.”

He said it’s also important to look at development in areas that are prone to flooding. But more important, he said, is affordability.

“When you look at the numbers, an average house in Ocean City is … about $650,000,” Guinosso said.

He said the average income in Ocean City is about $58,000 and compared that to the average income statewide of $68,000, while the average home cost statewide is $300,000.

“So you can see the disparity there,” Guinosso said. “The cost of housing is so high that it’s hard for them to make that adjustment.”

Guinosso said he would also like to see taxes lowered.

“Can we get lower? Can we have the same services with lower taxes?” he asked.

Ocean City’s nonpartisan municipal elections will be May 8. Candidates must submit a petition to the City Clerk by March 5. According to City Clerk Linda MacIntyre, each candidate is required to submit a petition with signatures in the amount of at least 1 percent of the registered voters in the ward, but not less than 25 signatures. Councilman John Kemenosh, 1st Ward; Councilwoman Karen Bergman, 2nd Ward; and Councilman Tony Wilson; 3rd Ward are also up for reelection this year.

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