Purnell “Carefully” Mulling Berlin Council Run

BERLIN – Rumors pegging developer Troy Purnell as a candidate for the vacant District One Berlin Town Council seat are almost true, with Purnell saying this week that he is thinking about a town council run but has not made up his mind yet.

“I have not decided,” Purnell said. “I’m considering it carefully. I think I could do a good job or I wouldn’t be considering it.”

Questions have been raised over potential conflicts of interest between Purnell’s extensive development projects inside and bordering Berlin and decisions facing the town council on growth and infrastructure.

Purnell, for example, needs water and wastewater capacity for some projects, which has not been assigned yet. He has also pursued annexation into the town of a large piece of property on the north border. That is all part of his decision making process, Purnell said.

Purnell said he plans to speak with Phil Cropper, who filed to run for the District One seat last month, and find out where he is coming from before making a decision on his own candidacy.

When asked whether he had given himself a deadline for a decision, Purnell said he would know by 5 p.m. Monday, the deadline for filing to run.

With Purnell on the fence, one rumored candidate has opted out of the race as Marge Coyman will not make another attempt at the District One seat, which she lost in 2006 to Gee Williams by just 35 votes.

Coyman said this week that she fully supports candidate Cropper after meeting with him and having a lengthy conversation about town issues.

“I was considering it because it was open,” Coyman said this week. “But then I spoke to Phil Cropper and was very impressed with him. He’s got a bit of a learning curve, but he’s very efficiently doing everything he needs to do.”

Coyman said she agrees with Cropper’s positions and saw no need to campaign for office herself. Those positions, she said, include a concern over too much growth, fiscal responsibility and openness and honesty in government.

“He has a good sense of what Berlin offers. He’d like to keep it as quaint and as small as we can,” Coyman said.

Coyman ran against then incumbent Williams in 2006, gaining 41 percent of the vote (80 votes) to Williams’ 59 percent (115). She also received one write-in vote for the at-large town council position in that election.

At the time of her defeat, she did not rule out running for town office in the years to come, and she had not changed that position this week.

“Maybe I’ll be involved in town politics in the future. Right now, I’m very glad he [Cropper] came forward,” Coyman said. “I told him go with it. No way was I going to try to challenge him on it. He’s just what I wanted to see.” 

Candidates have until 5 p.m. on Nov. 10 to file their candidacy for the council seat. The special election will be Dec. 16.

Williams officially vacated his town council post Oct. 27 when he was sworn in as duly elected mayor of Berlin, leaving that seat open until the special election results are official.

Williams had been interim mayor of Berlin since early May, taking over after Mayor Tom Cardinale’s unexpected death. Under the Berlin town code, the special election could not be scheduled until Berlin’s general election was finished and the seat officially empty.

As of yesterday, Cropper is the only official contender for the open seat.