SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Commissioners unanimously selected Diana Purnell to serve as their president this week.
On Tuesday the commissioners approved the selection of Purnell, the first African American woman to serve as a commissioner in Worcester County, to take the role of president of the board. Ted Elder was voted vice president.
“It’s definitely an honor to hand this gavel over to you,” said Commissioner Jim Bunting, who has served as president for the past three years.
Purnell, who lives in Berlin, was elected as the District 2 commissioner in 2014. She’s the former executive director of the Berlin Community Improvement Association and past president of the Worcester County Commission for Women.
“I thank you guys for your support,” Purnell said Tuesday. “I thank you for pushing me to take the next step.”
She stressed that it would take all of the commissioners to run the county effectively.
“It takes seven of us to operate this county correctly,” she said. “It takes seven opinions, seven of us to do the job that needs to be done to have a strong county. I intend during my tenure to make sure that we are as tight as anybody can be.”
Purnell’s election was followed by a unanimous vote for Elder to serve as vice president.
“I just want to thank my fellow commissioners for their confidence in me,” Elder said. “I look forward to living up to their expectations and doing what’s best for the county and serving the people in the county.”
Commissioner Chip Bertino took a moment to thank Bunting for his work as president the past three years.
“Those of us who do the people’s work often do so without recognition and sometimes overlooked,” he said. “It’s not uncommon for people, for taxpayers, to think of county government as a monolithic entity that is without feeling and is faceless. I think all of us in this room and in this building know that’s not the case.”
He said Bunting had accomplished a lot as president and had worked toward what he felt was best for the county. Bertino said that with his fellow commissioners’ support, Bunting had built a good relationship with the board of education and had helped improve the county’s budget.
“I don’t think anybody can question his intent,” Bertino said. “His intent has always been to do what’s in the best interest of the county taxpayers, the people who work for county government, and everyone who calls Worcester County home. Anyone who’s in a leadership positon strives I believe to leave their charge in better shape than when they found it. To that end I do believe Jim accomplished that.”
Bunting said was proud to hand the gavel to Purnell.
“It’s been a good three years,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed being president but it’s time for somebody else to have the positon.”
He thanked county employees for the assistance and support they’d provided him.
“I found out we have one of the best staffs,” he said. “I couldn’t have made the three years be what it was without your help.”