New Slate Of Worcester Commissioners Sworn In

New Slate Of Worcester Commissioners Sworn In
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SNOW HILL – Worcester County’s new commissioners took their seats this week and chose District 6 Commissioner Jim Bunting to serve as their leader.

On Tuesday, Worcester County’s four newly elected commissioners joined three incumbents to be sworn in as Worcester County Commissioners. Afterward, in a closed session, they chose Bunting to replace Commissioner Bud Church as president. Merrill Lockfaw was elected vice president.

“You’re going to have a great leadership team,” Church said as he handed the gavel to Bunting. “I’m glad to get my weekends back.”

Each of the commissioners used their first meeting together as an opportunity to comment on the privilege of serving as a county representative.

Commissioner Diana Purnell thanked the voters that elected her and encouraged citizens to share their concerns with her.

“My phone is always available and most of you know where my door is,” she said.

Commissioner Joe Mitrecic, who replaced 16-year Commissioner Louise Gulyas, said he had been anxious to begin his role as a county commissioner as soon as he found out he would not face any opposition in the election.

“Running unopposed is great but when you are unopposed you know you’re there you and just want to get started …” he said. “I have some pretty big shoes to fill but I feel that I’m up to the task as long as I have your support.”

Newly elected Chip Bertino, chosen to replace 12-year Commissioner Judy Boggs, joked that after years of covering county meetings as a newspaper publisher, he was enjoying a more comfortable seat on the dais. He went on to thank his supporters.

“I have the honor of sitting in this seat because of the faith and confidence placed in me by Ocean Pines,” he said. “I will do my best to do what’s in the best interest of my community and our county.”

Bertino encouraged the crowd filling the commissioners’ chambers to take the opportunity to meet Worcester County’s staff while they were in Snow Hill.

“If you haven’t had a chance to meet these people who are working on our behalf, introduce yourself,” he said. “You may even want to say thank you for all they do on our behalf.”

District 4 Commissioner Ted Elder prefaced his remarks by pointing out that he was a man of few words but thanked his family for supporting him in his third bid to be elected commissioner.

“Nobody up here has had a longer or harder path to get to this seat than I have,” he said. “I wish to thank my family who’s stood behind me this whole time and pushed me. I wouldn’t be here without them. I pledge to do my very best for the county and to be answerable to anyone at any time.”

Bunting, who defeated former Commissioner Linda Busick in the June primary and was unopposed in November, said he was looking forward to his second term as a commissioner.

“It was an honor four years ago to be elected and I think this second four years is even sweeter,” he said.

Lockfaw, Pocomoke’s representative who was unopposed, said he would enjoy working to protect Worcester County for future generations.

“This is a great task we have been elected to,” he said.

Church, now the most senior commissioner, closed out the remarks by saying how excited he was to watch the new commissioners begin their duties and by expressing his appreciation for the commissioners no longer serving. Church, who defeated Democrat Michael Maykrantz handily in the General Election, credited Jim Purnell, Boggs, Gulyas and Virgil Shockley for their contributions during their time as commissioners but said he was excited to begin working with four new personalities.

“I know there’s going to be a learning curve,” he said. “Being in politics is not always that much fun. I know they’re going to make the right decisions in the long run. I’m looking forward to the next four years.”