By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(May 2, 2019) Paula Gray, 72, who came within a couple of dozen votes of gaining a seat on the Ocean Pines Board of Directors last year, will try again this election, having filed for office on Monday.
Gray grew up in Baltimore City, earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, worked for the federal government as a contractual employee for nine years and worked as a railroad yard master for 31 years. She moved to Ocean Pines with her husband of 40 years three years ago.
The 1,526 votes she received in last year’s contest, was 23 votes short of the 1,549 collected by Esther Diller in her successful campaign.
“[We] need more people on the board who realize they are responsible to the people here in Ocean Pines,” Gray said. “They’re supposed to know what’s going on and they’re supposed to do this. We don’t know why Bailey left,” she said of the February departure of General Manager John Bailey.
The reason given publicly was that it was mutual decision between Bailey and the board.
Gray plans to run with three objectives for her campaign: provide “true transparency” for residents, promote voter confidence in younger residents and offer residents a chance to receive answers during board meetings.
“We have a board meeting where you can’t ask a question. That’s obscene,” Gray said. “You can make a comment, but if you make the comment in the form of a question they don’t answer. I just wanted to have people start to think. You’re not getting answers … you can go to meetings, you can say things, you can ask things … they’ll tell you to send an email.
“A board is nothing more than an arm of the people who live here,” she continued.
To combat this, Gray suggested the installation of an ombudsman group, which could be two to five people who would collect questions from residents, compile them and present them to the board.
Gray also pointed out the low response rate from residents regarding a communitywide survey mailed last August, noting that the majority of people who did respond were 55 or older.
“[My younger neighbors] don’t participate in anything because they don’t believe, first, that they’re going to have an impact,” Gray said. “Second, with all the brouhaha about the budget these days, it was done mostly by people who were well over 60.”
A lack of interest in the association’s operations will have a negative impact, Gray said.
“If we don’t do anything to stop this stagnation of participating, we’re not going to have a Pines,” Gray said. “We only pay $987 (in assessments). The Pines will fail because we are not attending to what needs to be done.”
The last day for file for candidacy is May 10.