City Council Candidate Jody Levchuk Ready to Go to Work
By MADDY VITALEJody Levchuk, who co-owns Jilly’s Boardwalk shops in Ocean City, is running for the Third Ward City Council seat and is passionate about why he wants to enter the political arena to represent the town he loves.He is running against incumbent Third Ward Councilman Tony Wilson in the May 12 municipal election, which will be conducted by mail-in ballots only because of the coronavirus pandemic restrictions.“I believe in having a thriving town from the beach to the bay. I believe in the people of Ocean City. As a businessman, I am capable of understanding about capital planning and improvements to the city,” Levchuk, 43, said in an interview.In the wake of the pandemic, Levchuk said he often talks to his neighbors about what concerns them most.“I am just doing the one-on-one phone calls with neighbors,” he said. “I believe if you are an elected official you need to be responsive. You need to talk to and know your neighbors and understand what is important to them.”If elected, his top priority would be to help other business owners.As a business owner, he emphasized, he wants other merchants to survive the pandemic.“Reopening, restoring and rebuilding are my goals. Superstorm Sandy was devastating to so many and in many ways COVID-19 has brought a whole other unpreceded wrath upon our city,” Levchuck said.“It has done so much damage. We have dozens of mom-and-pop shops, realtors, builders and barbers — businesses that fear of going under,” Levchuk said. “I’m also really thinking about the out-of-work folks and the single families.”Jody Levchuk (left), owner of Jilly’s Candy Factory, says he is very civic minded. In 2018 he received a commendation from the American Legion Post 524 from post member Jerry Bonner. (Photo provided by Doug Otto)He would like to provide his business acumen to the community members who need guidance.“There will be phases of businesses reopening and that will be challenging,” he said. “Of course, everyone wants to do that responsibly. People in our local government need to have the ability to deal with these issues.”He added, “Where I come in, people need to be the conduit for the state and federal relief. Everything from unemployment benefits to small business loans, We need to help. There needs to be a good hub for that and that is where our local government comes in.”Levchuk’s parents, Jill and Paul Levchuk, opened the first Jilly’s shop and moved to Ocean City 43 years ago. They raised Jody and his brother, Randy, a co-owner in the family business, in the resort.He was inspired to run for office because of his family. He and his wife, Jill, are raising their daughters, Leni, 7, and 5-year-old Jordyn, both of whom attend the Ocean City Primary School.“I want them to grow up in the same safe, prosperous Ocean City that I grew up in. My wife and I spend a lot of time instilling community in the kids,” he noted.One of the topics of concern that has come up in town is a large piece of property that is next to the Ocean City Community Center and formerly served as the home of the Perry-Egan Chevrolet dealership. Mayor Jay Gillian and City Council have discussed acquiring the lot and preserving it for open space.“This is a very hot topic and people are concerned about it. This has been going on for a few years,” Levchuk said. “It would be healthy to have town hall meetings virtually or using social distancing to discuss the future of the property.”He continued, “It is an extremely important part of the town and I want to know what is important to the homeowners, the residents, the children. Let’s hear them, and let’s see them.”In early March, Jody Levchuk, along with some of his employees, participated in the shopping extravaganza Market Madness at the Flanders Hotel.Levchuk also touched upon the idea of BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle). The city has an ordinance prohibiting BYOB at restaurants. Ocean City voters overwhelmingly rejected a 2012 referendum to allow BYOB for restaurant patrons“Because we have been wildly successful as a town without it, I see no reason to think about it at this time,” he said of allowing BYOB in the dry town.Levchuk is a graduate of the Seton Hall University Stillman School of Business. He is a board member with the New Jersey Amusement Association and is an active member of the Ocean City Boardwalk Merchants Association.While running the Jilly’s Boardwalk businesses, he also actively participates in community events and contributes to the Humane Society of Ocean City, the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Ocean City Parent Teacher Association.Levchuk explained why he believes he would be the best candidate for the job of Third Ward City Councilman.“I understand Ocean City. I believe we have the best resort community in the state, if not the country. And I think there is a reason for that. We work very hard to keep it that way.”And the Levchuk family’s reputation, he said, speaks for itself.“We have been running a resort business in the community for three generations. I know what a grind seasonal business is, and we need to focus on reopening as soon as we can,” he said, referring to the post-coronavirus recovery.He continued, “I am a people person and a problem solver. I am used to being in front of thousands of tourists and working with many employees. I am a person who solves problems. I am ready to go to work on Council.”Contact Third Ward City Council candidate Jody Levchuk with any questions or to organize a virtual gathering at (609) 350-8363. For more information visit www.Jody4council.comThis Easter, Jody Levchuk, shown with his children, Jordyn, 5, and Leni, 7, came up with a plan to help families with their own Easter Egg Hunts in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo courtesy JASM Consulting) Jody Levchuk is accompanied by his wife, Jill, and daughters, Jordyn, 5, and Leni, 7, while handing in his nominating petitions to City Clerk Melissa Rasner in early March before the pandemic restrictions.