Voters in North Beach have a chance to change their minds about the choice they made four years ago, because the contest for mayor of the Calvert County town is a rematch of the 1998 race.
Incumbent Mayor Mark Frazer won that election and this year is seeking a second four-year term. His opponent is the man he beat in 1998: former mayor Dan Hartley, who served one term after being elected in 1994.
Under North Beach's nonpartisan form of government, residents elect a mayor and six members of the Town Council. Frazer is running with a slate of six council candidates; Hartley has not fielded a slate.
Frazer served two terms on the Calvert County Board of Commissioners before running for the North Beach post. Frazer and
Hartley are asking voters to judge them on their respective records in the town's top office.
With Frazer as mayor, North Beach opened a new welcome center that has been heralded as a symbol of the town's effort to become a more attractive tourist destination. Frazer said he would continue to work on two high-priority initiatives: restoring the town's wetlands and revitalizing its waterfront property.
"I think the voters have had a chance to see what has occurred in North Beach over the last four years," Frazer said.
He said his goal would be to "solidify the improvements that have been made over the past four years."
"I'm not anticipating new initiatives in the coming four years," Frazer said. "I will continue to work on the three-part project of wetlands restoration, nature and hiking trail construction, and the establishment of a history and nature center."
Citing his accomplishments as mayor, Hartley said he had extended the town's signature boardwalk north to 7th Street. Hartley, a Calvert County employee, maintained he would finish the long-planned boardwalk extension to the town line at the north end of Atlantic Avenue.
When he announced his candidacy, Hartley said the election "will determine whether North Beach is going to be run to benefit the people who live here and pay the taxes or for outside interests who want to buy up all the property, intensively develop it and bring in gambling."
"I guess the difference is what we want North Beach to be," Hartley said, adding that he opposes the "massive extent" to which the administration has focused on tourism.
"We'll welcome tourism but not when we have to close off streets several times during the summertime," he said. "When we can't get to businesses, I believe some citizens are unhappy about it."
He said, "I think we need to put our emphasis on what we have . . . what it used to be -- a quiet little bayfront town with outstanding antique stores, outstanding personality of the people and a nice quiet town to live in. What I don't want is an Ocean City on the Bay."