Bergen grew up on the mainland in Northfield and lives in Linwood. He attended Mainland Regional High School and the College of William and Mary, working the Ocean City Beach Patrol during summers.
He swam competitively through college and first met his wife, Maryellen, when she was a member of the William and Mary women's team. The Bergens have three children: Katy, a junior at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a former stringer for the Sentinel; Jack, a Mainland Regional senior and member of the Ocean City Beach Patrol; and Emily, a Mainland junior and aspiring longboarder.
When he's not working, Bergen can often be found surfing on the north end. If you don't already know him, you might recognize him by the boards he shapes and fiberglasses. They're the only ones with the two leash cups on the nose (part of what he describes as a foolish experiment to invent a contraption to swim a longboard through storm surf). His quest to shape the perfect board continues.
When they're not wet, the Bergens are on a quest to climb to the highest point of every state in the nation. You can read an account of their travels here.
In a 25-year career at the National Geographic Society, Cape Cod Publishing Company and The Press of Atlantic City, Bergen has been a reporter, sportswriter, bureau chief, weekend section editor, founder of a startup publication, website manager, entertainment editor, features editor, city editor and news desk editor. He's excited to be part of a company that's making a commitment to journalism and growing. He joined Patch in November 2010.
At Patch, we promise always to report the facts as objectively as possible and otherwise adhere to the principles of good journalism. However, we also acknowledge that true impartiality is impossible because human beings have beliefs. So in the spirit of simple honesty, our policy is to encourage our editors to reveal their beliefs to the extent they feel comfortable. This disclosure is not a license for them to inject their beliefs into stories or to dictate coverage according to them. In fact, the intent is the opposite: we hope that the knowledge that their beliefs are on the record will cause them to be ever mindful to write, report and edit in a fair, balanced way. And if you ever see evidence that we failed in this mission, please let us know.
How would you describe your political beliefs?
Like most New Jerseyans, I've never been registered or affiliated with a political party. I generally vote Democratic, though I do cross party lines, notably in the 2nd Congressional District, where Democrats have put up a mind-numbing collection of unviable candidates (anybody remember Derek Hunsberger?) to run against the nine-term incumbent Frank LoBiondo. I've become increasingly frustrated with party politics and feel that gamesmanship and frat-boy loyalty often trump the common good. I love the concept of the tea party movement ... but the actual candidates? I can't imagine ever casting a vote in that column.
And when you get down to local elections, does anybody really know what it means to be associated with one party or another? I believe Ocean City's nonpartisan elections are appropriate.
How religious would you consider yourself? (casual, observant, devout, non religious)
I guess you should call me a "relapsed Catholic." I was raised Protestant and spent the start of my adult life as your garden-variety heathen. I married and had children with a good Irish Catholic girl ... but remained a heathen. But a funny thing happens when you live enough life: You experience enough to realize that there are greater forces at work than yourself. You begin to have faith. I completed RCIA (Roman Catholic Initiation for Adults) classes in 2000 at the age of 37. And, no, I would never dream of being self-righteous about my religion. I have enough of my own sins to worry about.
Local Hot-Button Issues
What do you think are the most important issues facing the community?
Where do you stand on each of these issues?
Certainly Ocean City faces the same issue that every other town in New Jersey does: Gov. Chris Christie and his mandatory 2 percent cap on municipal tax increases. I love the idea of a public official who's willing to do more than talk about cutting spending and waste. But is that Christie?
It seems to me that he's talking tough but passing an awful lot of the pain to towns through major cuts in municipal and school aid.
But the most important issues Ocean City faces will always be those that preserve the character of a really special place. Will the city be able to find continued funding for beach replenishment projects? Will the new causeway provide safe transport to and from the island? Will the city be able to continue to fund and promote the events that make the resort so special?
While these are all debatable issues in a context of state and national budgets, they're no-brainers for the folks around here: Ocean City should be preserved at all costs.