Candidates Being Candid: OBA Forum 5/30/15

 chance to listen.The forum was mediated by longtime Ocean Beach resident, Paul Aronson. Gina Ragusa and Johnny Parham fielded anonymous written questions from the audience floor. Maria Silsdorf was keeper of the clock, making sure no speaker exceeded the allotted time in answering a question. This was not a debate. Candidates never directly addressed each other.Opening speeches were for the most part dry and rehearsed. Most of the men had been making published statements on social media over the past few weeks, and the audience seemed familiar with their platforms.Recent events however with two Ocean Beach police officers getting injured in the line of duty during last week’s Memorial Day mayhem did overshadow the initial statements.Deputy Mayor Greg Pace said he was “sickened by events of Memorial Day Weekend and it will not be the new normal.” While challenger Christopher Norris said what transpired “didn’t just happen last weekend.”Questions from the audience in some ways revealed more about the constituency then the candidate themselves. It seems the people of Ocean Beach demand more police enforcement, as it was a repeatedly visited topic. However some don’t want to pay the $909,000 a year it costs taxpayers to maintain the force.There was also some friction going on among the OBA officers themselves as the mediator interjected a few of his own lengthy questions about water meters into the dialogue. “No,” was Trustee Power’s answer, arousing laughter from the audience.A question about the salaries the Ocean Beach Board voted for themselves in 2013 after the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and further requesting justification for them left the men stone-faced as they uttered carefully phrased responses.Sometimes it was their unguarded statements that were the most compelling.One awkward question stating that Ocean Beach “ignores” the condition of its dunes got quite a rise out of Pace as he called the question “just ridiculous.”Perhaps Trustee Blake said it best when he said he was presently at his most “optimistic” for the welfare of the Village at this very moment in time.“I look to my left, I look to my right, and I look in the mirror.” I see good people all around me willing to serve.”OBA Candidate’s forum from left to right: Challenger Christopher Norris, Deputy Mayor Greg Pace, mediator Paul Aronson at podium, incumbent Trustees Matthew Blake, and Brian Power.Fire Island News takes no position of endorsement towards any candidates in this race. The Ocean Beach Village Election will be held Friday, June 5 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Ocean Beach Community House.