Ocean View Town Council candidate Jerry Mueller informed the Coastal Point on Wednesday morning, March 25, that he was dropping out of the race for the town’s District Four council seat, citing personal reasons.
“The ugliness of the campaign has affected my personal life, so I need to drop out for personal reasons,” Mueller said early Wednesday.
Later Wednesday morning, the Coastal Point received information indicating that Mueller had been arrested by Ocean View police on Tuesday, March 24, about 6 p.m. Police said they were dispatched to the residence Mueller shares with his wife, in response to a call from Mueller. They said Muller had told the dispatcher that he was in a verbal altercation with his wife, who he subsequently told police wanted him not to leave the residence.
“While at the scene, police discovered and seized suspected marijuana and drug paraphernalia,” Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin said. “An investigation revealed that the drugs and paraphernalia did belong to Mr. Mueller.”
Court documents obtained from Justice of the Peace Court by the Coastal Point on Wednesday indicated that McLaughlin had been talking with Mueller at the home while another officer was talking with his wife. The officer reported that Mueller’s wife said “she wanted to show me something, as she was unsure of what the items were.”
The officer said Mueller’s wife led him to the garage, where she opened a top drawer in a file cabinet, exposing what appeared to be three partially-smoked marijuana cigarettes, which police said they later determined belonged to Mueller.
Police arrested Mueller and charged him with once count each of Maintaining a Dwelling for Keeping Controlled Substances, Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
Police said they seized 42.5 grams of suspected marijuana seeds and 5.6 grams of suspected ground marijuana, as well as rolling papers.
Mueller was released on $2,750 unsecured bond, pending arraignment in the Sussex County Court of Common Pleas. McLaughlin declined further comment on the case, citing that their investigation of the incident was ongoing.
Mueller declined on Wednesday afternoon to comment about the incident.
As of Coastal Point press time on March 25, Ocean View officials said they had not received official notification from Mueller stating his intention to drop out of the town council race. Town Manager Conway Gregory said town staff and the town solicitor were reviewing the procedures that would be followed if Mueller dropped out, leaving Bob Lawless as the lone candidate on the ballot.
Gregory said that the town, in the past, has not held elections unless there was more than one candidate running, but he emphasized that the need to hold elections this year was still being reviewed. It is possible that elections may still need to take place.
The election is set for Saturday, April 11, with voting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Ocean View Town Hall.
UPDATE: The Ocean View Board of Supervisors of Elections will hold a special public meeting at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 3, to declare the election of a candidate pursuant to state law. The agenda for the meeting includes "certification of the election of a candidate where the number of qualified candidates is equal to the number of seats up for election," which, in the case of this year's town council election, would be one seat. Town officials noted, "This item is subject to the outcome of the proceedings to be conducted on April 1, 2009." The town is expecting to hear from state election officials on Wednesday about whether there is a legal requirement for them to hold voting on April 11 if there is only one candidate. Both meetings will be held in the town hall, located at 32 West Avenue.
UPDATE - April 2, 2009: The Ocean View Board of Supervisors of Elections on April 1 dismissed a complaint made by Councilman Perry Mitchell that argued that Lawless had improperly garnered support from local Republicans in his campaign for the Ocean View District 4 council seat. Lawless was found not to have violated any of the town's or state's election laws and is now the only candidate for the seat. The Ocean View Board of Supervisors of Elections is set to meet again on April 3, as noted above, to determine whether an election will be held at all, now that there is officially only one candidate.
Pick up next week’s issue of the Coastal Point for more on this story and the impact on the 2009 Ocean View Town Council elections.