Schaefer idea a bit too late

A run for mayor in resort town requires a 4-month residency

deadline is Tuesday

Ocean City

Maryland Votes 2006 -- The Primary Election

September 14, 2006|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,Sun reporter

William Donald Schaefer for mayor of Ocean City?

The 84-year-old political veteran said yesterday that he might think about jumping into the resort's mayoral election now that he lost his race to remain state comptroller.

But Ocean City officials say Schaefer can't run -- because he can't meet a four-month town residency requirement in time for the candidate filing deadline Tuesday.

In a joking aside yesterday to reporters who came to mark the passing of the former Baltimore mayor and governor's 51-year political career, Schaefer suggested that he might be up for a run at the top spot at Maryland's favorite beach -- a beloved vacation getaway where he has owned property for years.

Opinion 2 years ago

But an opinion two years ago by the state attorney general's office says prospective candidates must be living "permanently or indefinitely" in Ocean City and have been a resident for four months.

Factors determining residency, the opinion makes clear, include where a person votes. Schaefer voted Tuesday in Baltimore.

Still, with the mayor's office and four Town Council slots on the ballot Oct. 17, Schaefer's musings yesterday quickly produced a buzz in the beach town, where fewer than 4,000 voters usually determine local races.

Rick Meehan, the former City Council president who has held the mayor's job since June when former Mayor James N. Mathias was appointed to the House of Delegates, is the only candidate to file in the mayor's race -- a seat that is open every two years.

"It would be an interesting challenge," Meehan said yesterday. "I know he loves Ocean City, but he'd have to be a resident. He certainly was not on my list of potential opponents."

Schaefer warmed immediately to the idea when it was proposed in a staff meeting yesterday, said longtime Schaefer spokesman Michael D. Golden. He said staff members would look into residency requirements.

`His eyes lit up'

"We brought it to the boss, and his eyes lit up," Golden said. "He's down there a lot, a week at a time and weekends. He's always said being mayor was the best job. It's a natural. He'd be great."

Roland E. "Fish" Powell, the longtime Ocean City mayor who credits Schaefer with boosting the resort during his two terms as governor, said he doubts that Schaefer intends to run.

"I wouldn't be surprised at anything the governor decides to do, but I don't hardly think he'd be serious about this," said Powell. "On the other hand, he's well-loved down here. Don't ever underestimate him or count him out."

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