BERLIN – Lisa Hall won the District II Berlin Town Council seat Tuesday, beating out nearest rival Thom Gulyas by 33 votes.
The District II votes broke down to 167 for Hall, 134 for Gulyas and 93 for Jason Walter.
“I never thought about winning until tonight. I just wanted to get out in the community and make them aware of the issues,” Hall said from her living room, where she had awaited the results with family and friends. She figured her chance of winning at 50-50, she said.
Gulyas, favored in the three-way race for the District II town council seat because of his name recognition, business experience in town and his mass mailers, was philosophical over his defeat.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed, as anyone would be,” Gulyas said. “I really wish it had turned out better. I know I would have been a much needed asset to the town of Berlin.”
Walter, who ran a low-profile campaign and did not attend the candidate forum held last Friday, did not respond to a request for an interview.
Berlin Mayor Gee Williams, who endorsed Walter’s candidacy, said voters faced a difficult decision in that district.
“I felt there were three good people there. All three care about the town. I’m sure it was a tough choice,” Williams said.
The defeated candidates must move on, Gulyas said.
“I congratulate all the citizens and my opponents for getting people involved in the future of this town,” Gulyas said.
County Commissioner Louise Gulyas, Thom Gulyas’ mother, said she lost her own first political race years ago for Ocean City Council by a landslide.
“He’ll still be involved,” Louise Gulyas said. “He ran a very fine race. They all did…I’m just glad it’s over.”
At the Globe on election night, Williams spoke to Gulyas after the vote results were announced about getting together to discuss how Gulyas could be involved in working with the town.
Hall only jumped into Berlin’s public eye in late August, when she called for and organized a community meeting on soaring electric bills.
That meeting prompted her candidacy for the District II council seat, vacated this year by outgoing Council member Ellen Lang. Her goal was simply to get people involved.
“If you want change in your government, you have to change yourself, and participate in your government,” Hall said.
Hall urged townsfolk to attend one town meeting of some kind every month, such as the Board of Zoning Appeals or the Berlin Planning Commission. “You don’t have to come to a Mayor and Council meeting,” Hall said.
Hall attributed her election success to pounding the pavement and knocking on doors. Only two homes refused to talk to her.
Her campaign was focused on informing the public, not offering quick fixes.
“I did not promise anybody anything. I gave them facts and figures,” Hall said.
One promise she did make, to donate her $2,000 a year council salary back to Berlin to pay down the electric system debt, she will keep, Hall said.
Lang said Tuesday night that Hall could call her at any time with questions.
Councilwoman Paula Lynch said she looks forward to forging a relationship with council’s new addition.
“I don’t know Mrs. Hall but I’m sure she’s someone we can all work with,” said Lynch.
Gulyas congratulated Hall by sending her flowers the day after the election.
“All I can hope is she’s going to do a very good job for us,” said Gulyas.
Hall said, “I’m just looking forward to working with everyone. I’m looking forward to learning about municipal government.”