BERLIN – Bill Todd is the first candidate to file in Berlin’s 2020 mayoral race.
Todd filed last week to run for mayor in October’s municipal election. Though three council candidates are already on the ballot, Todd is the first to file for the position that’s been held by Mayor Gee Williams for the last 12 years.
“I felt like this was the time,” Todd said. “I’ve been talking about it and thinking about it for a long time.”
Todd, who was born and raised in the area, has lived in Berlin for the past 10 years. Long associated with Burley Oak Brewing Co., he is now general manager of The Globe, which is set to reopen this summer. Todd says he’s always been interested in public service. He believes what he lacks in political experience he makes up for in passion.
“I love this town so much,” he said. “I don’t want to be anywhere else. I have a vested interest in making this place be the best it can be.”
As far as issues he’s concerned with, he points to the town’s budget, public safety and growth.
“I’d like to see the town grow responsibly,” he said. “I want to protect the beauty and integrity of the town while also keeping a keen and responsible eye toward the future.”
He also wants to put a heavy emphasis on arts and entertainment in town and address Heron Park.
“We have got to figure out a way to make that work,” he said.
According to Todd, the town’s demographic has changed slightly in recent years to include more young people. He wants to ensure their voices are heard and do more to encourage citizens to be involved and provide elected officials with input.
“If someone doesn’t agree with me that’s an opportunity for me to learn something,” he said. “I won’t be offended if someone doesn’t agree with me.”
Todd is the fourth candidate to file for the town’s Oct. 6 election. Though the filing deadline isn’t until September, Jack Orris has filed for the District 2 council seat currently held by Zackery Tyndall while Jay Knerr and Tony Weeg have filed to run for the at-large seat. No candidates have filed yet for the District 3 seat held by long-time incumbent Elroy Brittingham.
Despite COVID-19, the fall election is expected to be held as scheduled in October. In a report to town leaders Monday, Deputy Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said that as of now the town planned to hold the election as usual but to incorporate social distancing and face mask requirements.
Bohlen said she’d studied the town’s options and found that most municipalities were either postponing their elections, proceeding with elections but with social distancing requirements or doing mail-in voting.
For Berlin, she said the least disruptive option was to hold the election as scheduled but to hire a few additional poll workers to help enforce social distancing and mask requirements.
“Obviously we’ll use the same tactics that most of the retail establishments that you see have used, with tape on the floor and encouraging people to maintain social distance,” Bohlen said. “If face masks are still being required obviously our poll workers will wear them. We’ll require anyone coming in to vote to have one. If they don’t have one with them we’ll do our best to provide disposables to make the accommodation as easy as possible.”
She added that the town would also encourage absentee voting.
“Anyone who is a registered voter of the town meeting the minimum requirements can request an absentee ballot,” Bohlen said. “They do not actually have to come to the polls in person.”
The town will have two polling locations — Buckingham Presbyterian Church for District 1 and 2 voters and the Berlin Police Department for District 3 and 4 voters.