POCOMOKE CITY -- For Sharon Beyma, the April City Council election was the final straw -- it was time to blog.
Beyma, a Pocomoke City resident, supported District 4 candidate Stephanie Burke, who campaigned on a message of change and transparency in city government. Burke lost after 178 absentee ballots tipped the scale of the split 58-58 in-person vote in favor of her opponent, incumbent Tracey Cottman. Only four absentee ballots were filed for Burke.
"I've lived in Pocomoke City 30 years now," Beyma said. "I've raised two kids here and I'm just really tired with what I've seen happen here over and over again. It all came to a head with what I saw happen this last election."
Beyma, the former director of administrative services for the Worcester County Health Department started her blog, titled "Seeking Sunshine in Pocomoke," later that month. Through the forum she hopes to "enable open, honest, thoughtful discussion of what it takes to have open, transparent, accountable local government, both in general and specifically with regard to Pocomoke City." It's published at seekingsunshineinpocomoke .blogspot.com.
"When you get to be my age, you want to be able to say what you think and not be fearful," she said. "I think a lot of people in this town are fearful about speaking out."
Beyma, a certified public accountant, moved to Pocomoke City in the late 1970s with her husband who worked for NASA at Wallops Island.
In 1993, she took a job at town hall as the finance director. Beyma said her time working for Pocomoke city was an "eye opener" as she learned how things were done. She resigned in 1995 because, she "did not see eye to eye with the city manager."
"Sometimes the best lessons you learn are from making mistakes," Beyma said. "It was a mistake to take the job and another mistake not to leave sooner."
After resigning, she ran twice for the District 5 City Council seat, and was unsuccessful both times. A few years later, Beyma worked for the Worcester County Health Department and served there for more than a decade before she recently retired.
Now, fresh with time on her hands, she is back to tackling the things she thinks are wrong with the small town.
"I don't see any forethought for the city," Beyma said. "I see 'how do I stay in this position and maintain the power I have' but I don't see how to move forward -- and there is such a potential here -- but the current officials are stifling that potential because of their unwillingness to fully involve all people in town."
Beyma wants the Pocomoke City to utilize its Web site, posting meeting agendas, budgets and other town documents for public review The town should start broadcasting its council meetings, she said, either over the Internet or on TV, so that people who can't make it to town hall will have a chance to watch and increase public accountability for officials. And, in light of the recent election, Beyma wants the town to have a stronger, more autonomous board of elections and reassess the rules governing absentee ballots.
"I think there needs to be program put in place where people who might influence the absentee vote in the wrong way is minimized," she said. "I don't think you will ever get rid of it at all."
you can visit Sharons blog @ http://seekingsunshineinpocomoke.blogspot.com/