BERLIN – Berlin Mayor Tom Cardinale will definitely run for re-election this fall, he said this week.
“I haven’t made it official. I haven’t made it a secret either,” Cardinale said of his election plans.
Cardinale, elected to office in 2004, said he has several goals he wants to accomplish before leaving elected office.
“My goal is to make sure Berlin has a good policy towards growth. I want to maintain the historical integrity of Berlin,” he said. “I want to do all I can to ensure the town is fiscally sound.”
The town’s financial position has improved, Cardinale said, and he wants to continue that improvement by watching spending and being careful with growth, not by raising taxes.
“I got some gas left,” Cardinale said. “My wife is the one that’s pushing me the hardest. She said, you’ve started something, you’ve got to continue it.”
Although Cardinale has mentioned running for a second term off the public stage, his intentions have not been known to most of the townspeople. Many have speculated that he would not run again.
Cardinale said he asked himself two questions when deciding to continue his political career.
“Could I support any of the people I’ve heard are going to run for office? I’d say no,” said Cardinale, who did not identify those potential rivals.
The mayor also asked himself whether he has had more good than bad days in office. The answer, he said, is yes.
Although it’s early in the election year, the 2008 election may continue a slowly increasing trend of contested elections in Berlin. The 2004 mayoral election, in which Cardinale defeated incumbent Mayor Rex Hailey, was the first contested mayoral contest in years. In 2006, Williams ran for re-election to the town council, and was challenged by Marge Coyman, in the only contested race that year.
Council members Dean Burrell and Paula Lynch ran for re-election unopposed that year.
“For decades, getting people interested in running for public office in Berlin has been like pulling teeth,” said Council Vice President Gee Williams. “There have been few contested elections.”
Williams said the probable competition for the mayor’s seat is a healthy sign for the town.
“It’s definitely a new wrinkle in Berlin,” Williams said. “Especially in local positions it’s a position of public service really. There’s a lot of responsibility and very little authority.”
Cardinale said it’s good for the town for seats to be contested.
“As for who else is going to run, so be it. That’s democracy in action,” Cardinale said. “I encourage people to run. I hope they do. That’s what’s good for government. That’s what’s good for the town.”
Cardinale added, “If the people are satisfied with the job I’m doing, and I hope they are, they’ll say, Tom, we want to give you another four years.”
One rumored rival for the mayor’s seat has been Williams, who said this week he is not intending to challenge for the spot.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “I cannot do the job I need to do for my current employer and also do what’s necessary to do a proper job as mayor. There’s only so many hours in the day.”
Williams said he has been approached by townspeople about running for mayor and was flattered by the suggestion, but did not consider it.
“I have a very rewarding position now,” he said, referring to his post as public affairs director for the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore.
Another rumor had Williams interested in the new deputy administrative director slot, but that is also not true, Williams said, although he was asked to consider that as well.
Williams has two years left on his town council term.
Although there are nine months to go before Berlin’s 2008 mayoral and town council election, speculation is also emerging over two town council seats.
District II Councilwoman Ellen Lang and District III Councilman Elroy Brittingham are up for re-election in the fall.
“I don’t think I want to talk about what I’m thinking about doing,” said Lang. “I think it’s very early to be talking about it.”
Brittingham also said he had made no decisions.
“I haven’t made up my mind yet,” said Brittingham. “It’s too far in advance for me to decide.”
Berlin businessman Thom Gulyas is a potential candidate in District II.
“I’m still investigating that opportunity,” said Gulyas, the son of Worcester County Commissioner Louise Gulyas.
Gulyas, widely seen in town as a near certain town council candidate, is known as a vocal observer at town meetings.
“Some strong decisions need to be made by people who have some open minds and new vision,” he said. “There need to be some tough questions asked.”
While friends and supporters have thrown around the idea of a mayoral run, Gulyas prefers to aim for the town council.
“I’d like to see some new blood up there, I really would,” said Gulyas. “I’d like to see more folks run. … Somebody needs to step up.”