BERLIN – Four years after his first foray into the political arena, resident Jack Orris became the first candidate to file in this year’s town election.
Orris, who ran against Councilman Zack Tyndall in the 2016 election, filed in February to once again seek the District 2 seat.
“I’m ready to go,” Orris said. “I dusted myself off and got back into it and I’m still ready to make a difference and serve the people of Berlin.”
Orris, a Worcester County Health Department employee who has lived in Berlin since 2006, says the key issues in town four years ago remain concerns now.
“The big issues then were more transparency and less annexation,” he said. “In the four years since then, not a whole lot has changed in that area.”
As far as transparency, Orris said he wanted to really look at the way the town operated.
“As you know we had the biggest tax increase in Berlin’s history last year,” he said. “I’m very curious to see why we operate the way we do and work with the mayor and council to change things.”
A major change he’d like to see involves the budget process.
“Currently we set our tax rate and then we do the budget,” Orris said. “My plan is to change that—reverse it basically—to set the budget by a specific process of looking for opportunities to save first, reassessing fees second… To me it makes more sense to see where you can save first instead of setting the tax rate and trying to aim for it.”
Orris said taxes would always be an issue but he also thought Berlin would need to work on parking and growth. Orris believes officials should take a look at the parking study done in 2018 to review it and see if any improvements could be implemented. He thinks the town’s recent growth will likely continue.
“I think we should continue to grow steadily, responsibly, but not at the expense of our charm,” Orris said. “I think with the recent coronavirus developments we have seen the community come together in regards to the schools closing and children’s needs. I think that just solidifies the fact that the biggest and best part of our charm are in fact Berliners, the people of Berlin.”
Orris, one of a handful of citizens regularly in attendance at town council meetings, is vice chair of the Heron Park Advisory Committee. Aware that some residents repeatedly suggest the town sell the property, he acknowledged that there were options to explore in that regard.
“Obviously that is not where we envisioned that property to be right now when we started with that committee,” he said. “I will say I’m willing to discuss revenue generating opportunities for the front part of the property.”
In addition to the revenue generating opportunities, Orris said he’d also be open to considering selling a portion of the property.
When asked why voters should consider him this year when he didn’t win in 2016, Orris said he’d learned a lot in four years.
“I’ve grown in my knowledge of the town and I think what I have to offer is someone who would scrutinize the budget line by line,” he said. “We have to rein in spending, we have to address the budget.”
He added that he didn’t plan to simply criticize spending but wanted to help come up with better practices.
“It’s one thing to just talk about problems, it’s another thing to come up with the solutions,” he said.
Orris suggests anyone who wants to learn more about his views visit his website, orrisforoffice.com.