OCEAN CITY -- Former City Councilman Jim Mathias swept to victory in the Ocean City mayor's race yesterday, winning more than half the votes cast in a four-way race.
Mathias, 45, hugged family members and supporters as the results were read just before 8: 30 p.m.
"I'm very happy people believe in me," Mathias said. "I thank the people of Ocean City and I'll work hard for them."
Mathias, who owns a billiard parlor and T-shirt shop, resigned the council seat he had held since 1990 to run for mayor.
The municipal election, which also had 13 candidates for five City Council seats, drew a strong turnout, with 2,690 of the town's 5,693 registered voters casting ballots.
Mathias defeated George Feehley, who also resigned from the council to run for mayor, Margaret Pillas and John Staley.
In the crowd of about 250 that packed the Convention Center basement to hear the results was retiring Mayor Roland E. "Fish" Powell, who indicated he was pleased by the outcome.
"I believe we have a new, young, energetic mayor," Powell said. "I think it's a great night for Ocean City to have this much enthusiasm, this many candidates."
Three incumbent council members, Lee Duggan, Rick Meehan and Jim Hall, were returned to office and will join two new members, Nancy Howard and Glenn Steckman.
The large number of candidates -- 13 people running for five council seats, four vying for mayor -- brought a steady stream of voters to the town's only polling place at the Convention Center at 40th Street and Coastal Highway.
Candidates, their families and supporters began arriving at the Convention Center parking lot at 6 a.m., setting up campers, station wagons, trucks -- one candidate even had a white stretch limousine -- plastered with bumper stickers and campaign posters.
Most voters went into the basement of the center loaded with campaign bounty acquired on the short walk from the parking lot.
"There's a lot of interest in it," said mayoral candidate Staley. "It's a change. It's a chance to change the whole makeup of the City Council -- the mayor and the City Council."
"It's been a tough one," said Mary Adeline Bradford, chairman of the town's Board of Elections.
Pub Date: 10/16/96