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Meet the Worcester County commissioner candidates - Delmarva Daily Times

This 2014 election of the Worcester County Board of Commissioners is a landmark election, one where three veteran commissioners are stepping down: Judy Boggs of Ocean Pines, Jim Purnell of Berlin and Louise Gulyas of Ocean City. Voters will now pick new candidates to fill the Ocean Pines and Berlin seats.

Commissioners Virgil Shockley of Snow Hill and Bud Church of West Ocean City are defending their incumbency to challengers.

There are also three candidates running unopposed, giving them the job — and its $25,000 salary — just by virtue of signing up as a candidate. They include incumbents Merrill Lockfaw of Pocomoke City and Jim Bunting of Bishopville, and Joe Mitrecic, the new Ocean City representative.


Merrill W. Lockfaw, Jr., (R)is running unopposed for a second term. He was first elected in 2010.


Diana Purnell (D)

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I am a Berlin resident wife, mother, local business owner, community leader, family and youth advocate.

What made you decide to run for county commissioner?

I was encouraged to run for the District 2 Commissioner seat by many in our community. I live, worship and work in District 2. My passion for our community and knowing the dynamics of the community and its concerns propelled me to run for Worcester County Commissioner.

What do you see as the most important issue facing Worcester County right now?

I believe the most important issue is education. Education is the foundation which great communities are built. Communities with consistently higher graduation rates tend to have lower crime rates. Empowering our youth from early childhood through college by educating them is how we change Worcester County for the better.

Where would you like to see Worcester County in four years?

In four years, I would like to see Worcester County with more year-round jobs and small business owners, as the one of the best in the nation in education, and Worcester Technical High School living up to its fullest potential.

Why should people vote for you?

I believe that people should vote for me because as leader in my community, I have worked with town, county and state leaders to effect positive change for our county. As a commissioner I would continue to work diligently for Worcester County from within the system.

What would voters be surprised to learn about you?

People would be surprised to learn that I think outside of the box. Just because a solution has not been found within the system doesn’t mean that one doesn’t exist. By working with my fellow Commissioners, I am confident that we will solve the issues we face throughout the next four years.

Lorraine Purnell-Ayres (R)

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I enjoy reading, fishing, crabbing and gardening. At 18, in 1971, I made up my mind never to vote. I felt one’s vote would never make a difference (you know the battle in Vietnam, young men dying and no declaration of war). While filing in my brother-in-law's law firm, I met a past partner, Judge Allen, of Baltimore. He asked me my age. After my response, he said, “well, you can vote for me.” I laughed and stated I had no intentions of ever voting. He then informed me of how the vote affected the price of the food on my breakfast table.

What made you decide to run for county commissioner?

Upon reviewing The Daily Times article (“White Men Dominate Leadership,” Sept. 8, 2013) pertaining to the minority plight in Worcester County, I found it necessary to run for the minority district position, whether or not (incumbent) James Purnell ran or left the position vacant.

In 1983, as President of the Worcester County NAACP, I, along with Professor David Honig of Howard University, documented the disparity of whites and minorities in Worcester County with the completion of the survey published as “Worcester County, Maryland: A Dream Deferred.”

The article more or less demonstrated that a “minority district” truly does not make a difference. I run today because I beg the difference. Mr. James Purnell held the position for almost thirty years and we, persons of color and females, are almost back to were we where in 1983.

What do you see as the most important issue facing Worcester County right now?

Our spending in most categories has gotten out of hand. The county is top-heavy and has dual standards. Hiring practices place minorities (race and females) in positions without the possibility of promotion to the top.

Where would you like to see Worcester County in four years?

I would very much like to see a county where there is equality and opportunity for all.

Why should people vote for you?

A vote for Lorraine Purnell-Ayres is a vote for equality, an individual with versatile experience, an entrepreneur who has worked as an advocate.

I have dispensed services, I have fought for others rights, I have supervised others for the courtroom and the Maryland State Department of Public Safety. I have scruples and am a servant and do not wish to reign; but, working hand and hand with one another we can make Worcester County a better place to live.

What would voters be surprised to learn about you?

That I come from humble beginnings. My father could not read or write and my mother was a high school graduate. I have eight siblings. My father told each of us that if we wanted a higher education he would work to assure we had that opportunity.

When I returned home from Detroit with a master's degree and no prospect of employment, my father gave me three acres of cucumbers to work and told me he figured I could use a little money. When I was in “undergrad” and about to quit my studies, my father said that that summer I would work where I would work the rest of my life.

No Ocean City for me, he said, you will go to the factory, the chicken factory, the best paying employment in the area. Needless to say, after that summer, there was no problem as to what I would rather do. Father and mother taught each of us not to be afraid of hard work and we must do what we have to do as long as it is honest.


Michael Maykrantz (D)

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m 46 years old and live in West Ocean City with my wife and three children. I am a firefighter/paramedic with the Ocean City Fire Department where I have worked for 25 years. I’m also the vice president of The West Ocean City Association. I have volunteered for many organizations in the community and served with many civic groups over the years. I have more detailed information on my website www.MichaelMaykrantz.com.

What made you decide to run for County Commissioner?

Over the years I witnessed the Ocean City area change and a shift in the growth, particularly in West Ocean City. In the 10-year period between the 2000 and 2010 Census, the population increased 34 percent, which is around 6,000 people living in that area. What was once just an incorporated area of Worcester County was evolving into more of a community, but lacked many of the services and infrastructure.

The absence of a paramedic crew at the West Ocean City Firehouse, undersized roadways, very little safety consideration for pedestrians due to lack of sidewalks, bike lanes and crosswalks, inadequate street lighting, stagnant recycling program, incomplete public water system for fire hydrants, and the list went on.

The more I talked to people in the community, the more I heard about these same issues of importance. Instead of complaining about what wasn’t being done, I decided to run so that I could be part of a team to start making tangible improvements in the West OC, Berlin and South Point communities.

What do you see as the most important issue facing Worcester County right now?

I feel the most important issue is that of growth. We have to responsibly manage it while offering economic stability for the citizens of this county. People and businesses are still struggling.

The population continues to grow, which will increase the demand for essential services, such as public safety. Property values are slow to recover, therefore the taxable base hasn’t increased tremendously to bring additional revenue into the county. We have to maintain the current tax rate and limit over-regulation, with the goal of keeping the cost of living as affordable as possible.

I believe in Smart Growth, which is sustainable, and supports existing communities by directing infill development to areas where some infrastructure currently exists and can be enhanced. This saves the county and taxpayers money, creates more work opportunities and addresses some of our housing issues. It also preserves valuable natural resources which is important to every resident and visitor to Worcester County.

Where would you like to see Worcester County in four years?

I would like to see Worcester County further down the line on things such as public safety, health and education, work opportunities, housing needs, alternative energy sources, recycling efforts and government transparency.

Specific to Ocean City, West Ocean City, Berlin, and Ocean Pines, I would like to see progress towards a comprehensive plan developed to tie those communities together, and share some of the services and infrastructure costs. It may be expanded transportation, public water and sewer, walkable streets or even a recreation complex/Community center. They all have similar needs, so it makes sense not to duplicate costs and efforts.

Why should people vote for you?

People should vote for me because I have a fresh perspective and vision for the direction Worcester County could grow successfully into the next several decades.

The actions we take now will lay the groundwork for the type of community we want to leave for the next generation. We certainly want to be prosperous, but we don’t want that to come at the cost of losing our identity as a county or our quality of life as resident.

I’m not a career politician. I’m a citizen who is offering the people a choice that they didn’t have in the last election, to vote who is going to be their voice. I’m committed to the community, dedicated to progress and I hope the people will give me the honor of serving them.

What would voters be surprised to learn about you?

I was on my opponent’s campaign team in a previous election.

James “Bud” Church (R)

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was first elected as a county commissioner in 2002. I am a past chairman of the Tri-County Council. For 10 years I served on the Worcester County Board of Education, eight of those years as president.

I am president of Coldwell Banker Bud Church Realty Inc. I am married to the love of my life. My two children have blessed me with five grandchildren. I enjoy hunting and fishing with my wife and grandkids.

What made you decide to run for County Commissioner?

In 2002, the state legislature created a new voting district in Worcester County. When I saw the new district map, I said, “Bud Church, this is your opportunity to continue to protect and make a positive difference in Worcester County.” I threw my hat in the ring and the rest is history.

What do you see as the most important issue facing Worcester County right now?

The most important issue facing Worcester County is the state of Maryland. The state of Maryland has to understand you can’t tax your way out of a recession or tax your way to prosperity. It’s like a man standing in a bucket trying to lift himself. It can’t be done.

Within the last week, the state of Maryland announced that their projected revenues are a half a billion dollars short going into 2015. The state of Maryland has already raided every piggy bank they could to balance their last several budgets.

For example, Worcester County received about $5.2 million to $5.5 million from highway user fees in past years. That amount dropped to about $249,000. That’s our money they are using to help balance the state budget.

I will, to the best of my ability, oppose and fight against the state of Maryland’s endless taxing of our citizens and their excessive regulations against our citizens.

Why should people vote for you?

I have the expertise, knowledge, and proven track record for getting positive results. I fully understand and accept the responsibility of being a public servant.

I have waded through the technicalities of financial budgeting to understand the needs of local families. It takes years of dedication and experience to comprehend the subtleties of managing the growth and development of Worcester County.

Our community is rapidly expanding and the three specific areas I will continue to address are: improving public education, expanding emergency services, and preserving private property rights.

Where would you like to see Worcester County in four years?

Bill Badger, who heads our Economic Development Department, has a vision that we the county commissioners share to bring high-tech, high-paying jobs to Worcester County.

My hope is that we can tap into the Wallops Island space program to develop jobs for our Worcester County citizens.

I would hope that over the next four years we could bring more jobs to our growing medical facilities. It’s my goal to bring a growing job base that will support our county with a non-smokestack industry that will allow our children and grandchildren to work in Worcester County.

What would voters be surprised to learn about you?

As much as my wife teases me that I “sleep in my tie and suit” some of my best down time is at my farm in my work clothes riding my tractor, planting trees (we are up to 4,000 since I bought the farm), gardening with my wife or taking long walks in the woods, especially after a snow storm. I really do enjoy leaving my suit and tie in the closet for my old jeans and boots.


Ted Elder (R)

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am 63 years old, a school bus contractor and business owner in Worcester County. I have lived in Worcester County most of my adult life. I've been married 46 years to my wife, Joyce. We have three children, four grandchildren, a great-grandchild and another on the way to arrive soon. All, of age, have attended or are attending Worcester County schools. I live rurally in Whaleyville.

What made you decide to run for County Commissioner?

I had run for this same office four years ago, narrowly missed being elected. I want to make a difference for the average citizen of the county by streamlining processes for permits, etc. I also want to work with the other Commissioners to bring good jobs to the county. I was strongly urged to run for this office by many people.

What do you see as the most important issue facing Worcester County right now?

The most important issue facing Worcester County now would be staying financially stable.

Why should people vote for you?

Voters should choose me because of my strong work ethic, my honesty and integrity in dealing with people, but most of all for my deep caring for individuals.

Where would you like to see Worcester County in four years?

In four years I would like to see Worcester County financially stable, attracting good businesses and leading the state in opportunities.

What would voters be surprised to learn about you?

I have never flown on a commercial airline or been out of the United States.

Virgil Shockley (D)

Tell us a little about yourself.

Virgil L. Shockley, 61, has been in the farming and poultry business for 45 years. For the past 27 years, he has been a Worcester County school bus contractor. He is a 1971 graduate of Snow Hill High and a 1976 graduate of UMES.

In 1979, he co-founded the Snow Hill Youth Soccer League, serving as a coach until the time of his election in 1998. He was an active member in the Jaycees for many years, during which time he served as Membership Chairman. He is currently a member of the Worcester County Farm Bureau, where he served as National Affairs Chairman for several years.

What made you decide to run for County Commissioner?

I wanted to make sure my children had a safe place to live, a good education and enjoyed a good quality of life in the county that is our home.

What do you see as the most important issue facing Worcester County right now?

Dealing with unfunded state mandates. Getting state highway user funding back for use within the county. We were getting $5.2 million in FY08, but in FY15 we will get $450,000. Maintaining the services that are needed for county residents while keeping taxes low.

Why should people vote for you?

I am experienced in dealing with county budgets, working with state and federal officials and persistent when it comes to getting what the county needs, such as, the Route 12 and 113 stop light. I work hard at getting the job done and I use common sense.

Where would you like to see Worcester County in four years?

I would like to see the county do everything it can for the expansion of the Wallops Flight Facility. I would like to get broadband services provided to everyone. This will be a huge help in economic development. I would like to see a tourist train running from Berlin to Snow Hill.

What would voters be surprised to learn about you?

In 1975, I was part of the bowling team that won the State Duckpin Bowling Championship and then placed third in the Nationals. I am really good at cornhole and enjoy playing with family and friends.


Tom Wilson (D)

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was raised and lived most of my life in the Washington, D.C., area. I attended Catholic University of America. My wife Patrice and I moved to Ocean Pines in 2002 after I retired from the federal government.

After retirement, I became involved in the local community working with several nonprofit organizations. I have been on the board of Diakonia for almost six years and finished a two-year term as president this year. I have done volunteer work for the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore and am Treasurer of the Lower Shore Land Trust helping to preserve the beauty and rural heritage of our Lower Shore.

What made you decide to run for County Commissioner?

Through my involvement with local organizations, I have seen so many areas where we can do better! I have considerable experience in government at all levels and in bringing people together over common concerns. I have a strong background in financial management. I think I can use my skills, knowledge and experience to help provide a strong voice for Ocean Pines and a better Worcester for everyone.

What do you see as the most important issue facing Worcester County right now?

The most important issue in the Ocean Pines area right now is Route 589.

Traffic congestion is growing every year and significantly more development is slated for the corridor. I’m confident I can work with the county and the state to get funding to widen this road which provides a critical transportation link in Northern Worcester County.

The other major issue is the state of our economy in Worcester County. We have the lowest average wage of any jurisdiction in the state and, from November to April each year, the highest unemployment rate. The predictable result is a high level of food and housing insecurity and a depressed tax base. We need to work harder to attract good, year-round businesses.

Where would you like to see Worcester County in four years?

I would like to see Worcester with a strong and growing year-round economy, with an improved transportation network in the Ocean Pines/Ocean City area and with an efficient, cost-effective and transparent county government that serves all the people in Worcester County.

Why should people vote for you?

I am a fiscal conservative with a strong record of getting things done. I have demonstrated, at Diakonia, my ability to work with the state government to bring money to Worcester County. I can work with a broad spectrum of people and organizations as demonstrated by my endorsement by both the Worcester County Teachers Association and by the Coastal Association of Realtors. I believe I can use my long experience in budget and program analysis to sharpen the focus of the Worcester County budget and help bring efficiency and transparency to our county government.

What would voters be surprised to learn about you?

I served for 5 years as the Chief Financial Officer of the Peace Corps and for almost 20 years with the African Development Foundation working to create jobs and strengthen local institutions in more than 20 countries in Africa.

Chip Bertino (R)

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My wife Susan and I have been married 27 years. We have three children and two grandchildren. We moved to Worcester County in 1991. Each of our children has graduated from Worcester County Public Schools.

I am a small business owner, having launched The Courier newspaper in 2000. I am a member and past president of the Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce. I was a board member and past treasurer of the Worcester County Veterans Memorial at Ocean Pines. I am co-author of the book, “My Time, My Service,” a collection of biographies of those honored at the Veterans Memorial. I was a member of the Route 589 Stakeholders Advisory Group.

What made you decide to run for public office?

When Commissioner Judy Boggs announced last October that she was retiring at the end of her term, I felt it was important for the Ocean Pines district to continue to have strong representation at the county level.

With my years of experience learning about and educating myself on the workings of county government, having attended countless public hearings and listening intently to staff recommendations made to commissioners as well commissioner deliberations, I feel I am qualified to emerge from the sidelines and enter the conversation to represent the Ocean Pines district with a strong, knowledgeable voice.

Why should voters choose you?

I am a local small business owner who has experienced firsthand the marketplace challenges in a sluggish economy. Pursuing an entrepreneurial philosophy to seek solutions to challenges and to forge opportunities and relationships where they may not at first appear obvious is important. Taxpayers deserve and expect an efficient, economical and conservatively managed county.

For many years I’ve attended county commissioners meetings; listening to commissioner deliberations, public hearings and staff recommendations. I’ve written and published hundreds of stories on issues related to wastewater, procurement, budget and finance, zoning, economic development, infrastructure, education and bond issues.

Because of this experience I’ve become familiar with the complex issues that come before commissioner as well as county staff, department heads and advisory committees. I am prepared to represent the Ocean Pines district with a strong voice at the county level. As someone who values the importance of communication, I will continue the practice of holding regular town meetings to engage our community in issues of importance.

What do you see as the most important issue facing Worcester County right now?

A tight grip must be held on county spending. Many in the Ocean Pines district and the county as a whole are still suffering from the effects of the recession. County residents deserve and expect an efficiently-run, conservatively-managed county government. The burden to county taxpayers must not be increased and when appropriate, decreased.

A new Showell Elementary School needs to be constructed. Each of my children attended Showell; each was taught in the trailers in the back of the school.

However, it is the responsibility of a commissioner to scrutinize and question the construction cost estimates. Our community requires a new school that enhances learning and maximizes student academic achievement. When it comes to education I believe county taxpayer money should be spent on technology to raise student academic levels and to ensure we have the most qualified teachers in the classroom; not on an ornate building.

Where would you like to see Worcester County in four years?

In four years I’d like to see a new Showell Elementary School at or near completion. And I want to see the county on a solid financial footing.

What would voters be surprised to learn about you?

That for all the many hours I’ve spent attending commissioner meetings and Ocean Pines Association board meetings, the process of government fascinates me.


Madison “Jim” Bunting (R) is running unopposed for a second term. He was first elected in 2010.


Joe Mitrecic (R) is running unopposed for his first term. He is leaving the Ocean City Council halfway through his third term to join the commissioners.

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