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With Tears and Laughter, Newly Elected Council Members Take Their Seats in Ocean City

first_imgBarr said the encouragement he has received from his family, friends and the local community over the years allowed him to pursue his dreams. With his mother, Suzanne Barr, by his side, Barr was sworn in by state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, his close friend and mentor. Barr serves as a volunteer legislative aide to Van Drew, D-Cape May. “Man, if I would have told you 25 years ago we would be doing this, would you believe me?” Barr said, smiling. Bergman and other Council members said they are committed to completing a series of projects that will improve the city’s infrastructure. They include upgrades to the beaches and Boardwalk, new roadway and drainage projects to alleviate coastal flooding and a $20 million dredging program to unclog the shallow lagoons along the back bays. “Bobby, I am so unbelievably proud of you,” Van Drew said. “You are exceptional.” Karen Bergman, Michael DeVlieger and Tony Wilson, the other winners in Ocean City’s May 10 municipal election, also took the oath of office in front of hundreds of people at the historic Music Pier on the Boardwalk. McClellan, 41, a purchasing buyer for Cape May County, is Council’s only African-American. He said the community support he received over the years paved the way for him to become a councilman. However, his speech turned seriousThird Ward Councilman Tony Wilson is accompanied by his children Anthony and Julia during his swearing in by Municipal Court Judge Richard Russell.when he described Council’s commitment to public service and the ways the entire community can pitch in to make the city better. Barr, 34, who has used a wheelchair his entire life, said he hopes his election will inspire other disabled people to achieve their goals. He is an advocate for the disabled as a state representative on the Regional Family Support Planning Council of Cape May County. Van Drew said Barr has overcome “all odds” throughout his life and is an example of “American exceptionalism.” “You deserve the biggest round of applause on this stage,” Barr told his mother while fighting back tears.Second Ward Councilman Antwan McClellan, joined by his mother, Cola Mae, takes the oath of office from New York Supreme Court Justice Ronald HollieMcClellan also tearfully thanked his family, friends and supporters. He was sworn in by New York Supreme Court Justice Ronald Hollie. His mother, Cola Mae McClellan, joined him on stage when he took the oath of office. McClellan, shaking his head in amazement, simply smiled back. “This is America’s greatest family resort for a reason. I embody that,” McClellan said as the audience gave him a standing ovation.First Ward Councilman Michael DeVlieger is sworn in by U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo while his wife, Jennifer, and children Flynn and Reagan look on.DeVlieger, 49, an executive recruiter, was sworn in by U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, while his wife, Jennifer, and children Flynn and Reagan looked on. But beyond the dry moments focusing on construction projects, the meeting also included plenty of tears, laughter, moving tributes to family members and a few standing ovations. DeVlieger had a personal message for his children: “Your mother and I are firmly committed to raising you in this beautiful community,” he said. “Really, I am what the city of Ocean City is all about,” he said. The reorganization meeting also included the unanimous appointment of Peter Madden as Council’s new president and Wilson as the new vice president. Madden and Wilson will hold those leadership posts for the next 12 months. The heartfelt exchange between both men was one of the high points Friday of an emotional City Council reorganization meeting that included the swearing in of Barr and McClellan and three other newly elected members.Fourth Ward Councilman Bob Barr’s mother, Suzanne, embraces him while he is sworn in by state Sen. Jeff Van Drew. “I’ll do everything not to let you down and to live up to your expectations,” he said. “The lessons we’re teaching our kids about giving back to the community are invaluable,” he said. In a lighter moment, Wilson noted that his son poked fun of him for wearing a sky-blue jacket to the ceremony and that he had cried during McClellan’s emotional remarks. The audience responded to Van Drew’s remarks with a standing ovation. Later, Barr’s mother was given a standing ovation when Barr described how she has taken care of him and his brother, who also has cerebral palsy. Hundreds of people attended City Council’s reorganization meeting Friday at the Music Pier. Barr, sitting on the stage close to McClellan, said the two men would have “burst out laughing” if they had predicted 25 years ago they would one day serve together on City Council. DeVlieger, of the First Ward, McClellan, of the Second Ward, and Wilson, of the Third Ward, all ran unopposed to win their second, four-year term. Bergman will finish out the unexpired term of former At-Large Councilman Michael Allegretto through June 2018. After Allegretto resigned from Council last year to become the city’s director of community services, Bergman was appointed by Council to fill the seat until the election.Councilwoman At-Large Karen Bergman spoke of City Council’s transparency in its dealings with the public.Bergman, 55, the director of catering at the Flanders Hotel, was sworn in by Cape May County Surrogate M. Susan Sheppard.Speaking first among the Council members, Bergman told the audience she looks forward to working with the public “with honesty and integrity.” DeVlieger also thanked the residents of the First Ward for their support, noting that they turned out to vote for him even though he ran unopposed. Wilson, 47, who owns a local plumbing and heating company, was joined by his wife, Melissa, and children Anthony and Julia during his swearing in. Municipal Court Judge Richard Russell administered the oath. “I applaud the transparency of our governing body,” she said. Barr, a lifelong Ocean City resident whose election capped a remarkable achievement for a disabled man born with cerebral palsy, is the only new member to join Council. He won the Fourth Ward seat after incumbent Councilman Peter Guinosso decided not to seek re-election. By Donald WittkowskiBob Barr elicited roars of laughter and approval from the audience at the Music Pier when he looked at his longtime friend, Antwan McClellan, and asked him a question.last_img read more