OCNJDaily.com talked with Mayor Jay Gillian about his focus on Ocean City’s neglected infrastructure over the past eight years.The discussion follows in this question-and-answer format.Over the past eight years, why has so much of your focus been on infrastructure?Even before I took office, it was the one thing I heard from everybody: fix our roads, help us with flooding, take care of our beach and Boardwalk, dredge our bay, take care of our town. City Council members brought me the same requests – that’s what we heard from every Ward. At some point during my first term, when the interest rates were at a historic low, we thought, “What if we increase our annual capital plan to get the job done right?” That’s what we have done.Is this responsible, and can Ocean City taxpayers afford it?Yes and yes. Any major investment starts with a financial analysis, and the city is fortunate to have one of the best and most responsible finance departments you could ask for. From the start, we made it clear that this amount of work would not come free. But we came up with a sensible plan that asks taxpayers to pay small annual increases for an unprecedented level of work. Independent ratings agencies have rewarded our conservative approach with an AA bond rating, which helps us get low interest rates when we finance these projects.How much will it cost?On a $500,000 home, taxpayers can expect to pay about an extra $50 each year for the next six years. But as we return to a maintenance mode to sustain our road, drainage, dredging and other programs, capital spending will decrease and debt service payments will level off and ultimately decrease as well.After infrastructure, what are your greatest accomplishments?First, restoring the residents of Pecks Beach Village to their homes, and cleaning up the city after Superstorm Sandy. Next, working with City Council in a positive way on every issue. We don’t always agree, but we always work together to do what’s best for the taxpayers. Lastly, my outreach through town hall meetings, appearances at Council Ward meetings, my weekly Mayor’s letter and direct phone calls when questions and comments come into City Hall. Taxpayers, residents and guests know that the Mayor’s office and the City Team are available to address their concerns 24/7.What do you want the voters to know about you that we have not discussed?I enjoy rolling up my sleeves and getting the work done. I do not see myself as a politician – I’m a problem-solver, guided by common sense. I surround myself with the best, and as a team, we embrace the challenge of making Ocean City an even better place to live.
Throughout Dame Vera’s career she has demonstrated a constant commitment to ensuring victims of crime have the best possible experience of the criminal justice system. I look forward to working with her to build on the foundations laid by Baroness Newlove’s unwavering dedication to improve how we support victims and witnesses. engaging with victims to build up a picture of how support services are working and how they could be improved promoting the interests of victims and witnesses encouraging good practice in their treatment keeping the operation of the Victims’ Code under review Dame Vera Baird’s appointment will last for 3 years and her role will involve: I am delighted to be appointed Victims’ Commissioner, it is an honour to have the chance to work with victims and witnesses to ensure that their voices are heard everywhere it matters. I will be their champion, and I will work with government and the Criminal Justice agencies to implement the Victims’ Code when it has been updated, to bring national guidelines to local victim services which are delivered so well by my colleague Police and Crime Commissioner’s and to make the justice system responsive to victim needs, whilst ensuring fair trials. I will be very sad to leave my role as a Police and Crime Commissioner and my super staff, and all we achieved together with Northumbria Police. This new role will help me to build on my experience of victim and witness needs that I gained as a PCC and when I was in government. Dame Vera Baird said: Justice Minister Edward Argar said: The role of the Victims’ Commissioner is greatly valued across the justice system, and its importance has only strengthened under the tireless work of Baroness Newlove. Since the role was established in 2010, this government has driven vital improvements – from establishing the Victims Panel, revising the Victims’ Code, and last year publishing the first-ever cross-government Victims Strategy. I very much look forward to working with Dame Vera in continuing to drive the best possible support for victims across every stage of the justice system. The role of the Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses (Victims’ Commissioner) has been in existence since 2010 and is a statutory role. The role is independent of government and appointed through an open recruitment exercise. In September 2018 the first ever cross-government Victims Strategy was published. It was the first-time government have looked in such detail and in such a joined-up way at how we treat victims in the wake of crime. The Victims Strategy brings together, for the first time, funding which government and agencies spend on supporting victims of crime, which is roughly £200 million a year. Baroness Newlove said: Dame Vera’s responsibilities will include promoting the interests of victims and witnesses, ensuring that their voices are heard and holding government to account on delivery of its commitments.As Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Northumbria since 2012, Dame Vera has taken an active role in promoting the views of victims, also serving as the Association of Police and Crime Commissioner’s lead for supporting victims and reducing harm.Justice Secretary David Gauke said: I am delighted Dame Vera has been appointed to succeed me. Throughout the past six years I have had the opportunity to work closely with Vera in her capacity as Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria and as chair of the Victim Portfolio Group in the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners. Vera is a passionate and articulate advocate for victims, particularly the most vulnerable. She brings to this post huge experience and understanding of the criminal justice system, both as a lawyer and a former Solicitor General. I know she will work tirelessly and be a powerful voice for victims. I look forward to supporting her in the years to come. Notes to editors