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OP leadership gives crash course to board hopefuls

By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer

Ocean Pines Board Director Doug Parks

The Ocean Pines Search Committee continued its engagement with residents on April 28 as it searched for more applicants to throw their hats in the ring for the three Ocean Pines Board of Directors seats up for grabs later this year.

Much of the virtual discussion dealt with the nuts and bolts of applying and what board members can expect and what’s expected of them. But the board also spent a chunk of the hour-long talk talking about bullying.

“I’m kind of curious about all the bad publicity the board gets around here. I hear people talk negatively about the board and I don’t understand where it’s coming from,” said resident Gary Murray, who did not specify if he was applying.

“All the referendums that are out there right now — it’s like a lot of people are talking on social media about ‘no, no, no, no, no’ and I just don’t understand why people can’t read each one individually and vote what they think as opposed to what they’re told. I don’t know if it’s a history of some kind of reaction between the board and the members, and how do we resolve that?”

Director Doug Parks answered that it’s impossible to please everyone.

“I would offer for any prospective candidates that you better have thick skin,” he said. “That’s really one of the prerequisites. You’re going to get a lot of guff. You’re going to get a lot of disagreement. If you fold up and wilt like a flower, then you’re probably not really maybe committed to doing this.”

Murray shifted his questioning slightly, staying on bullying but pivoting on the source of it: the board itself. Making clear that he “wants to be my own thinker,” Murray asked, what does a director do if the board starts to push them around?

“You’re looking at someone who doesn’t get bullied,” Parks stated. “I might have to tell somebody something they don’t want to hear but I’m not going to compromise myself either.”

Regarding disagreements, Parks referenced famed educator Stephen Covey’s words that many people listen with the intent to reply, not understand.

“Listen first (to concerns) … with the intent to understand,” Parks told Murray.

Murray added that one of the bases of his questions were whispers he’s heard that new directors are pressured into going along with the status quo.

Newcomer Amy Peck refuted that claim, saying that, if anything, the board has been helpful in her early days as a director.

“There was a lot of expertise on the board and I felt very comfortable going to Doug and asking budget questions and going to (President) Colette (Horn) and saying ‘Here’s a draft of my motion. How does it look? Did I do this right?’ I think (those criticisms are) something that you hear a lot (with) people talking maybe on social media but I didn’t find that was the case at all,” Peck said.

Fellow Director Josette Wheatley concurred.

Both Peck and Wheatley were appointed their seats to fill vacancies in October.

Horn eventually chimed in herself with her take on what she sees in social media and “mainstream press” regarding the board’s demeanor.

“I know that (there is this) narrative … that the board doesn’t get along, that there are factions, cabals, whatever you want to call them, that there is pressure,” Horn said. “In the five years I’ve been on the board I did not experience that as a new director. I do not see that particularly. There are times when we have disagreements among ourselves. But we try to stick to the topic and issues of disagreement. We try not to personalize. We’re not about pressuring, attacking, personalizing the decisions we make.”

“The responsibility we have is to make sure we weigh both sides of every question, listen to both sides of every argument.”

The Ocean Pines Search Committee is tasked with finding at least five applicants to challenge for director seats held by Larry Perrone, Wheatley and Peck.

Currently, the deadline to apply is 4 p.m. on Tuesday. However, if five applicants are not found by then, the deadline will be extended to Jun 17.