“It has been a fun six years,” said Gordon Wood, whose term as Ocean View mayor concluded on Tuesday. “The Town was a mess. Now it’s tidy, and that’s a good thing.”
Wood, who grew up in Ocean View and Millville in his youth, went on to become a chemical engineer, lawyer and counsel on a congressional committee.
“I grew up here — I had every advantage anybody could ever have. I was raised with the idea that you have an obligation to give back,” he said.
Wood said that, although the Town was dealing with some turmoil in 2008, he was not afraid to join the council. Rather, he looked at his service as an opportunity.
“When you get to my point… as an experienced engineer and an experienced lawyer, you don’t see new problems. You see variations of old problems. So you enter into it with a lot of experience,” he said. “You learn a whole lot of things. The first thing you learn is: don’t ever hesitate talking to anybody. You never lose anything by talking to somebody. The second thing is, let everybody talk.”
Wood credits Town Manager Dianne Vogel for much of the Town’s new “tidy” state.
“Now we have a truly excellent town manager, a reason why it’s tidy. ‘Great’ would not be an exaggeration. You have to like her and respect her — I sure do.”
He added that all of the Town’s employees have done an exemplary job.
“We have a great bunch of people,” he said.
Wood says he’s proud of the current construction of the Town’s new Public Works building, which is being built on land leased by the Freeman Companies.
“It’s the single best piece of property in our town for a public works building, because it’s right near our main building. I’m proud of the fact that I went to Michelle Freeman and told her, ‘Michelle, you have something I want and I don’t want to pay for it.’ We went round and round constructively and politely.
“She finally asked me, ‘How many acres do you need — two or three?’ And I said, ‘One.’ Now the building is there. It saved the Town a lot of money, and it’s not in our park. I’m very proud of that.”
Wood said the Ocean View Historical Society is also an asset to the Town, and he hopes residents and the council will continue to support it.
“They’ve made a difference in our town,” he said. “I am proud of having been an active advocate and supporter. I say to the council: Continue a fair level of support.”
There are a few things Wood said he wished he had been able to do during his tenure as mayor.
“Things you didn’t do are just as important as things you did. We tried hard to get Ocean View onto the State health program, and we failed. I sat down at my desk and said, ‘We can’t fail at this. We need to do this. We need to do it right,’” he said. “Tom Sheeran and myself called every town in the state that we could get through to, and asked, ‘Are you in the program? If not, would you like to be?’ Every town that wasn’t in the program that we asked but one, to the best of my recollection, said, ‘Yes.’
“Thanks to Gerald [Hocker] and Ron [Gray], we’ve gotten word back that the next bond bill will include a provision for us to participate.”
Wood thanked his wife, Pat, for her support of his time spent as mayor.
“When you’re mayor, you get help from a lot of people. But I got help from a very special person — my wife. My wife is special. She put up with my time spent elsewhere,” he said. “You need a good antenna. Pat was a great antenna for what was going on around town. I think people know her more than they know me.”
In his retirement from the council, Wood said he plans to finish writing a book about his paternal grandfather and travel with his wife.
“I have a lot of other things I want to do,” he said, adding that he and Pat will be traveling to Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece. “Pat and I travel a lot — we haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on our bucket list. We are just the two luckiest people in the world. I’ve said that for years.”
Although he will be off the council, Wood said he will remain an active social member of the Millville Volunteer Fire Company and push for legislation that would allow all Delaware municipalities to support their fire companies through its charter.
“I will work hard with our legislature to allow all towns at their choice to have a similar type program.”
Wood said he is a proud resident of the town and hopes it continues to prosper.
“This is our town! I liked it over 70 years ago, and I like it now. I am proud of Ocean View. I am proud of my record as mayor. I am proud of this council,” he said. “Don’t we have a great town? We really do.”
On Tuesday, April 22, Walter Curran was sworn in as the town’s new mayor, and Tom Sheeran was sworn in as District 3 councilman. Both terms are for three years.