Annual directors election brings one incumbent and three newcomers to contest
By Greg Ellison
(June 10, 2021) Ocean Pines Board candidate David Hardy is looking to translate nearly half a century of military and federal government experience into managing the community’s budget expenditures, while also soliciting wider input from homeowners.
“We’re a rule of the majority with respect to the minority,” he said. “You have to ensure everyone feels like they participate at some level.”
Hardy, the latest of four candidates to enter the fray, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1974 and spent more than half a dozen years on active duty in the U.S., Europe and North Africa.
After this, Hardy transitioned into an active reservist role for over 14 years.
“I was in a command position and responsible for the people, materials, and equipment, as well as the mission,” he said.
During this era, Hardy’s sites of service expanded to include Central America and Canada.
“At the same time … I managed to work in private industry,” he said.
Following over a decade in private industry, Hardy gained employment in the federal civilian service.
“I work in contracts and acquisitions for the government, “ he said.
After beginning as a civilian employee with the Department of the Army, Hardy later worked for the Department of Defense, followed by an eight-year stint at the Department of Energy.
“I managed programs at the National Labs,” he said.
In more recent years, Hardy has been employed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Harford County.
“I’m a systems engineer and I manage contracts and acquisitions,” he said. “So, I know how to manage money in a manner that is responsible.”
While Hardy has yet to determine a precise retirement date, in anticipation of that day Hardy purchased property in Ocean Pines three years ago.
“I’m slowly moving my butt to Ocean Pines and I’ll get there fulltime eventually,” he said.
Hardy and his spouse of nearly two decades, Edie, have lived part-time in the Pines to this point.
In addition to both his military and governmental background, Hardy ‘s resume includes six years serving on town council in Framingham, Massachusetts.
“We created and approved the town budget,” he said. “Unlike our federal government, or some limited state governments, where it seems to be a fulltime job, it really was a part-time endeavor.”
Starting in the late 1980s, Hardy served two terms on the Framingham council, which managed a budget in the $100 million range for a population, at that time, of roughly 40,000 people.
“It was called a town but had the population of a small city,” he said. “As the town got bigger, we had a meeting council where we had probably about 500 meeting members.”
Hardy said the municipal government stint imparted a crucial lesson.
“You have to get the job done as expeditiously as you can, but you’ve got to respect all participants,” he said.
During his time in the Pines, Hardy, has felt the larger community lacks involvement in financial decisions.
“As a resident, I don’t feel I have input to the annual budget and what projects are done,” he said.
Hardy also questioned how the association allocated more than $1 million in Payroll Protection Program funds awarded by the Small Business Administration.
“That seemed to get spent awful quick,” he said. “Maybe it was totally legitimate, but I believe in total transparency.”
Hardy found the situation reversed in terms of expectations while working in federal government agencies.
“It’s a totally different animal,” he said. “I was reminded, you’re not spending your money, you’re spending the taxpayers.”
Hot button Pines issues Hardy is focused on includes addressing short-term rentals.
“I believe … that the county has policies which are excellent and address all of the concerns,” he said. “It’s an issue of enforcement.”
While cognizant of community concerns over inconsiderate short-term visitors, Hardy cautioned that some perspective must be applied.
“Some of these problems are caused by a very small percentage, if you can even call it a percentage,” he said.
Hardy stressed that it’s important to avoid condemning the majority of responsible homeowners who provide short-term accommodations.
“I don’t want that to happen in any community that I live in,” he said.
Hardy believes that the core issue boils down to what level of assistance Worcester County could use to improve enforcement of rental regulations.
“If the county is saying they need help, we need to find out how to help them,” he said. “It’s not necessarily simply creating more rules and another oversight board.”
Although fully supportive of instituting a work group to analyze county rental rules, Hardy opposes establishing more restrictive regulations.
“There’s got to be a way to do it without being onerous,” he said.
Fiscal transparency is another major platform Hardy is championing.
“Should seven people have authority to decide how to spend $1 million alone?” he said.
In past budget dealings, Hardy said the overwhelming bulk of capital projects were funded annually.
“They decide how much money to spend on everything and then they move forward,” he said. “They don’t, in the middle of the year, have additional capital projects that they can approve.”
In contrast to his current pursuit, Hardy said being involved in politics was discouraged when he was in the military and employed by government agencies.
“You’re not allowed to be political,” he said. “I‘m not a political animal, but I want to be involved in my community in an apolitical manner.”
The other OPA Board 2021 candidates are Stuart Lakernick, Frank Daly and Rick Farr.
Stuart Lakernick, who finished third in the 2020 board election, announced his current candidacy in February for the pair of open board seats.
Lakernick, a Philadelphia-based chiropractic functional neurologist, is also the husband of former OPA Board member Esther Diller.
After filing earlier this year, Lakernick admitted weighing another election run for several months before making his decision.
Speaking in February, Lakernick cited “unhealthy dynamics” with current board membership and a lack of diverse viewpoints as primary motivators for his candidacy.
“Having a board with differences in opinions is good and can work in unity for what’s best for our association,” he said.
Incumbent Frank Daly jumped in the candidate pool in early April.
Daly, who is winding down an initial stint on the board after being elected in 2018, is seeking another three-year term to continue what he characterized as a commitment to assure long-term financial stability for the association.
“We have to make sure that we can sustain what we have done in the short term over the long run,” he said in April.
Daly, who was born in Pennsylvania and reared in Cleveland, made an initial unsuccessful board bid in 2016, finishing fourth out of 11 candidates vying for three open seats.
Following the 2016 setback, Daly served as chairperson for the Ocean Pines Comprehensive Planning Committee before staging a successful board run in 2018.
After consulting with his spouse in early April, Daly unveiled plans to pursue re-election for another term.
“Over the last three years, a lot has been accomplished,” he said. “We don’t have any dilapidated facilities anymore [and] we have a stable assessment.”
Despite improved management of association amenities in recent years, Daly said in April work remains to establish succession-planning parameters to ensure continuity of operations as board members or the general manager position changes.
Daly stated his primary motivation for seeking another board term is an aversion to stepping away from long-term planning efforts.
“Just to make sure that the community is on solid footing, that the progress we made is not a one-and-done situation,” he said. “A lot of the easy problems have been taken care of, but now we have big problems, like drainage.”
The candidate pool expanded further in late April when retired Air Force MSgt. Rick Farr entered the race.
Speaking in April, Farr, who purchased property in the Pines roughly two decades ago and transitioned to full-time residency two years back, said he has consistently monitored association operations.
“I’ve followed it all along and more recently even closer,” he said.
In 2007, Farr retired from the Air Force with 22-years of service here and abroad and quickly moved to the corporate realm inside D.C.
“I’m on my second career as an executive in human resources,” he said.
Since 2019, Farr has worked remotely as a HR executive while living full-time in the Pines.
“I plan on retiring there within 10 years,” he said.
Now ensconced year-round in Ocean Pines, Farr said in April his motivation to join the board is to provide “fresh ideas.”
“When I purchased property in 1999, things were well taken care of,” he said. “Properties were looking nice and it seems over a period of time some of that has declined.”
Another priority Farr keyed on in April is providing greater board transparency to improve community involvement.
“When there are closed-door meetings, that just defeats the entire purpose and puts a black eye on the board,” he said. “They may be doing things totally legit, but when you don’t have open transparency … or discussion in meeting minutes of what transpired, you’ve already created the doubt.”
Farr also advocated board accountability to counter any perception of malfeasance.
“We work at the pleasure of the people that vote us in, and we want to make sure their voices are heard,” he said. “There needs to be more oversight on the board.”
The first OPA Board candidate forum was slated for June 9, with a second installment set for June 19 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Assateague Room in the Ocean Pines Community Center.
Ballots are due by Aug. 11 to be followed by a vote count on Aug. 13 beginning at 10 a.m.
The OPA Annual Homeowners Meeting takes place on Aug. 14 with time and venue yet to be announced.
For questions about the election, or to submit questions for the candidate forum email email@example.com.