BERLIN – Two
of three elections will be contested this fall in Berlin with one race attracting three
Three candidates will contend
for the District II Berlin Council seat, which will be vacated by Councilwoman
Ellen Lang, who plans to retire later this year.
Lang’s decision to leave the
District II seat guarantees fresh blood on the council after this election
cycle. Thom Gulyas, Lisa Hall, and Jason Walter will compete for that slot.
Councilman Elroy Brittingham is
running unopposed and will retain his District III Town Council seat.
The mayoral race remains between
interim Mayor Gee Williams and former Mayor Rex Hailey.
“I’m glad there’s a lot of
interest in it. I welcome the race. That’s what this country is built on,” said
Gulyas. “Obviously, they’re passionate about the items they’re talking about.
That’s a good thing. That’s a real good thing.”
Hall echoed Gulyas’ sentiment,
saying, “It’s good. It lets the citizens have a choice. It’s nice to have
people run and show interest in the town.”
Hailey said more citizens are
getting involved because they are unhappy.
“There’s more people getting
involved,” Hailey said. “When things are going well, people don’t get involved.
You want things to go well, but the ideal thing is for people to want to get
into government then too.”
Williams said the contested
races should increase voter interest in the election.
“I think it’s refreshing to see
this much interest in a council run. I think it’s very good for the town when
we have three people interested in serving the community,” Williams said.
“Hopefully, it’ll generate more interest in what’s going on and increase the
The council will have two new
members this year because Williams intends to vacate his council seat after the
election, whatever the outcome.
Although he intended originally
to resign the District 1 council slot earlier this summer after deciding to run
for the mayor’s seat officially, Berlin’s code does not allow Williams to
resign the seat before the Oct. 14 vote. This forces the town to hold a special
election after the regular election.
Williams said he does not
believe in keeping his council seat as a backup, should his bid for mayor fail.
“You should either win or you should lose,” Williams said.
The town council District II
race features all political newcomers. None have run for public office before.While Gulyas’ interest in running for council has been known for some time,
Hall and Walter were surprise entrants into the race.
filed to run on the last day, Sept. 8. In a press release, Walter indicates he
will take a conservative approach to the budget, keeping high-quality service
to residents while cutting expenses. According to the press release, he wants
to reduce the tax rate and ensure developers pay for upgrades to utilities
occasioned by an increase in users.
Walter said this week that he is
not a politician and has no greater political ambition than to serve on Berlin’s council.
With just five weeks to go
before the election, candidates are getting their campaigns off the ground.
“I’ve been too busy to have
one,” Williams said of his campaign for the mayoral seat. “I’m trying to take
care of my responsibilities as mayor first, and I’ll work in campaigning as
best I can.”
Meanwhile, Hailey has been out
knocking on doors, the traditional low-key Berlin campaign.
“It’s been going very well for
me. People are aggravated from the last four years so badly, people want a
change,” he said.