BERLIN — With three seats up for grabs this fall on the Berlin Mayor and Council and the filing deadline less than two weeks away, only one candidate has officially announced her intentions.
“Thus far [Councilwoman] Lisa Hall has filed as a candidate,” confirmed Deputy Town Administrator Mary Bohlen.
Hall is entering the race as an incumbent as the District 2 representative. District 3, currently represented by Elroy Brittingham, and the Office of the Mayor, currently Gee Williams, will also be open this election.
Last fall, Hall made it clear that she would like to see an active election with all seats, even her own, contested. At the time, she predicted that, “next year will be another good election.” Williams, who has not yet filed but admitted that he is “certainly thinking about it,” agreed with Hall this week that a contested election benefits all
“I never discourage anyone from running for public office,” he said.
Berlin’s last election in 2010, where Districts 1, 4, and the At-Large seat were open, was uncontested with incumbents Troy Purnell, Dean Burrell and Paula Lynch re-elected. Voter turnout was 4 percent.
Such a low turnout is typical when an election is uncontested, according to Bohlen.
“That tends to be the norm when it’s just the incumbents running,” she said.
The election prior to that in 2008 was much livelier with seats contested. Voter interest was significantly higher, coming in at 31-percent turnout. Bohlen noted contested elections in Berlin are more common than uncontested ones.
“In my experience, I would say that it happens more often than not, some years more than others,” she said.
Hall reiterated her desire to have a contested election earlier this week, but admitted it seems difficult to get residents to seek office.
“I guess if anyone wanted to, they would have done it already,” she said.
However, Bohlen stressed that there is still plenty of time for a resident to put their name in the hat.
“The advertisement just went out officially last week. This is normal,” she said.
Bohlen added that some interest in filing has been expressed besides Hall, though no one has made an official move to do so yet.
The filing deadline for candidates is Sept. 10, with the election Oct. 9.
For more information on filing, contact Bohlen at 410-641-4314 or at firstname.lastname@example.org