When it comes to the mayor’s race, Berlin voters should head to the polls next week with one question in mind: Are major changes needed?
That’s ultimately what it comes down to for Berlin residents. If voters are generally happy with the town and its direction and confident in the job two-term incumbent Mayor Gee Williams has done the last eight years, they should re-elect him.
On the contrary, if they distrust the current mayor and feel he will lead the town in a manner that’s inconsistent with their vision for the future, voters should go with Lisa Hall, a two-term councilmember.
For what it’s worth, that’s essentially the situation nationally with the November presidential election when it comes to voting for the Democratic or Republican candidate.
While we may not agree with every single decision made over the last eight years, such as the funding mechanism for the town’s stormwater management program, we feel confident in supporting incumbent Williams for another term.
Williams has the experience, knowledge, passion and energy to successfully lead Berlin. He has the trust and respect of a majority of the community to continue to represent Berlin. The town needs his government familiarity and accessibility as it weighs key decisions in the near future, including, but not limited to, how to make the best use of its major investment at Berlin Falls Park, guiding future residential development to ensure the town doesn’t grow too fast and finding some sort of middle ground on the blockaded Harrison Avenue.
The mayor is a central figure in the Town of Berlin. The position sets the direction of the town, runs the twice monthly government meetings and works hand-in-hand with the town’s administrative director. The mayor’s position is also part cheerleader and Williams does that with skill.
Looking beyond her April drug charge in South Carolina that raised a lot of questions this week, Hall has been an effective councilmember over the last eight years. That’s why we regret her decision to run for mayor. In the years since she unofficially disclosed she was going to challenge Williams, she has fallen short on specific reasons why he should not be re-elected, aside from her personal feelings that he can’t be trusted and is heavily pro-development. She can point to several situations as examples of judgment issues in her mind, such as the planned location of the new police station and the costly situation involving a fence at the new Cannery development. No matter how credible her criticism of these moves and others, there’s a council that is supposed to be present to provide checks and balances for the mayor’s decisions. The mayor’s position can’t push through everything without the council’s majority support.
Hall was suited well for a council seat. Every government body, in our mind, needs a skeptic. A questioner is important for bringing out the full picture in discussions. She was effective in that role, but it’s evident she was frustrated at inability to gather the required three votes to stop the mayor’s endeavors.
Hall’s concerns about growth in Berlin should be shared by all residents. We have to be careful how we grow and every single discussion of annexation needs to be viewed with a scant eye. We like the position of being opposed to further annexation in the near future unless the case is proven after careful scrutiny it’s in the best interest of the town and its current residents.
There is a great love and adoration for the Town of Berlin for what it is — small, historic, quaint, peaceful and tightknit. It’s growing from a population standpoint, but it’s happening at a reasonable rate. It’s natural for more people to want to live in Berlin because it’s currently viewed as the model for small town charm and an example of Main Street renaissance.
We need to be careful to safeguard and maintain all these wonderful attributes. The incumbent Williams is best suited to lead the town forward in a polished and professional manner, monitoring the inevitable winds of change and making decisions based on the greater good of the diverse Berlin citizenry.
Council District 2: Both Jack Orris and Zackery Tyndall are to be commended for running for elected office. Both have run respectable campaigns and have represented themselves well along the way.
For too many years, there has been little interest among citizens in running for council seats. That’s still alive and well in District 3 where Councilman Elroy Brittingham hasn’t been opposed in decades and seemingly runs term after term because nobody else has the desire.
We think both Orris and Tyndall will make fine town elected officials and their futures are bright, but we give the edge to Orris in this race. He will bring a practical approach and fresh perspective to the council. He appears to be an independent type who will form his own opinions and openly question matters that conflict with his views on bettering the community. He has billed himself as a “scrutinizer” and that’s exactly what the council needs. An individual is needed on this council who is willing to bring their concerns out in public meetings so the citizens can understand varying viewpoints exist among their elected officials. Orris will not be intimidated on the council dais. We think he will represent his district well and be an excellent addition to the council.