BERLIN – Former Berlin Mayor Rex
Hailey filed to run for mayor earlier this year with no fanfare and plans to
run a low key campaign, despite this week’s addition of interim Mayor Gee
Williams to the race.
“At least I know who I’m going
against now,” Hailey said. “I knew someone would run. We’ve just been waiting
to see who that person would be.”
Hailey, mayor of Berlin between 1996 and
2004, also spent seven years on the Berlin Council and a year on the Board of
Zoning Appeals before that.
He lost his first contested
mayoral race to Berlin
newcomer Tom Cardinale in 2004. Cardinale died unexpectedly in May. Williams,
previously vice president of the council, then took over as interim mayor.
In Hailey’s view, Cardinale’s
administration did not fare well.
“Nothing got done. Money was
spent, huge amounts of money, trying to see the electric company,” Hailey said.
While Cardinale ran on a promise
to end flooding problems, the issue persists, Hailey said.
“None of those were ever fixed,”
An Army Corps of Engineers
report on flooding solutions was finalized in recent months and a committee
formed to study the options for effectiveness, practicality and cost.
“We’ve lost all our department
heads and they weren’t ever replaced,” Hailey said this week. “We’re running a
business with nobody at the head of each department.”
While the finance department
director post has sat empty for some time, word from town hall had Cardinale
concentrating on a different structure for town financial administration.
Berlin is currently looking for a
finance director at Williams’ direction. The town of Berlin also recently hired a new Planning and
Zoning director, a post which sat empty for months after Stacey Weisner
resigned last summer, while the town looked at candidates.
Hailey pointed out that Public
Works only has an acting superintendent and said that the electric line crew
head has not been replaced.
With Administrative Director
Linda Bambary retiring in the fall, the town will really be without experience,
“Town employees don’t know what
is going on anymore. There’s not enough people running things,” Hailey said.
The town has borrowed money
instead of getting state aid, Hailey contends, losing more money. Berlin needs to get back
on track with grants.
“We need to get the town’s
finances straightened out. We need people there knowing what they’re doing and
who to go to,” Hailey said.
Hailey also criticized Williams’
schedule, saying that half a day in the office every week is not enough time to
take care of a mayor’s duties.
Williams has said he also spends
evenings and weekends on mayoral work.
More citizens need to get out
and vote, said Hailey, who hopes that people become involved with the election.
“We have to get everyone out,” he said.
Hailey will get his message out
the old fashioned way.
“I’ll knock on doors. That’s
what you have to do in Berlin,”
Berlin needs a clear vision of where
it is going and what the town needs to do to get there, according to Hailey.
Everyone must be treated with respect, and his or her complaints listened to,
Hailey said he welcomes
competition from Williams.
“You don’t get a lot of messages
out. People don’t pay much attention when one person is running. They take it
for granted. It’s all over with and don’t get involved,” said Hailey. “You want
to have a choice."