Williams, Hailey Busy Campaigning For Mayor

BERLIN – With less than a week and a half to go before the mayoral election in Berlin, candidates are continuing their low-key campaigns for the town’s highest office by knocking on doors and making telephone calls.

Candidates for office in Berlin must weather a compressed campaign season, with just a month between the filing deadline and election. 

Campaign signs for both the mayoral and town council candidates are now all over town, sprouting almost overnight from private yards and businesses.

Aside from the signs, each candidate has said he will attempt to make personal contact with as many voters as possible before Election Day.

 “I’ve got signs all over,” said mayoral candidate Rex Hailey, who served two-terms as Mayor from 1996 to 2004. “I’ve been going door-to-door. It takes a lot longer that way…people just want to hear from you, and we have a lot of new people in town.”

Interim Mayor Gee Williams is going door-to-door and making telephone calls, referring to his efforts as “spare time” campaigning. Williams works full-time for the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore and has served as mayor since the untimely death of Mayor Tom Cardinale, who defeated Hailey four years ago in a landslide.

According to Hailey, people are most upset about the higher cost of living in town over the least four years, particularly over the problems with the power plant and electric costs. The electric rate went from the cheapest to the most expensive in four years, Hailey said.

“Everyone’s went up but ours went up the most,” Hailey said.

Hailey feels that the previous administration made mistakes in leaving key positions, such as head of public works and superintendent of planning and zoning, open for too long.

People are also angry, Hailey said, that Williams was rude to people asking questions on electric rates at a council meeting. A mayor “has to listen to people and be sympathetic and respectful,” Hailey said.

According to Williams, the electric rates are important to Berliners, but he is encountering a diverse array of concerns in his discussions with voters, from the need for more recreation facilities to environmentally responsible growth to a well-defined comprehensive plan and even a master plan.

Voters’ concerns tend to be personal, related to neighborhood, age, job and economic status, Williams said.

“They don’t want to go back to the way things used to be. I’m talking about when Rex Hailey was mayor,” Williams said. “They have a choice between going forward and going back. Staying where we are is not really an option.”