BERLIN– With the election still five months away, three candidates have already filed to run for town council seats in Berlin.
Town staff confirmed this week that Councilman Jay Knerr filed for the at-large seat while resident Steve Green filed for the District 1 seat and resident Tony Weeg filed for the District 4 seat. Deputy Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said that while the filing deadline isn’t until September it’s not entirely unusual for candidates to sign up months in advance.
“It varies,” she said. “Some years we’ve gotten one or two this early.”
Bohlen noted that while Knerr, Green and Weeg have filed, they’re not yet certified. The board of elections, which is still short one member, has to certify the candidates.
Bohlen said any citizen interested in filing for council should contact her at town hall. Those with questions about voter registration status should visit vote.org.
“If they are registered to vote in Worcester County at their current address then they’re registered for the town,” she said. “It’s not a separate registration.”
Seats up for grabs in this year’s Oct. 4 election are the at-large position, the District 1 position and the District 4 position. Knerr, who defeated Weeg in 2020 to get the at-large seat, said he was eager to continue the work he’d started.
“For the past several years Berlin has been on a solid growth trend,” he said. “As a council member I have been concerned about growth getting out of control with repeated large scale developments and annexation request. Preserving the integrity of our town for our residents is paramount. Building our capital reserves and replacing ancient infrastructure is a must. For the past year and a half, since I was elected, I have been working towards that goal. I would like the opportunity to continue representing the residents of our town and keep with that endeavor. Taxes low, town finances in check, keeping the balance between residents and tourism, replacing aging infrastructure, stabilizing the growth of our town, are the priorities. I look forward to serving as your At Large Council Member for the next four years.”
In what will be his first political campaign, Green is seeking the seat currently held by Councilman Troy Purnell. Purnell confirmed this week he was not seeking reelection.
“It’s time. It’s been 14 years,” he said, adding that he thought Green was the ideal candidate to replace him. “He’ll do a great job.”
Green said he wanted to apply his small business experience and perspective as a longtime Berlin resident to elected office.
“I am running for the District 1 council seat because I know in my heart I will bring passion, knowledge, dedication, professionalism and experience to the position,” he said. “Though I have not held elected office previously, I have lived in Berlin for more than 20 years of my life, been raised here and raising a family here now and have been involved in leadership positions within community organizations providing me the experience of working together with individuals toward a common goal. I know about accountability and the balance between responsible leadership and having the guts to make difficult decisions. I know how to work with people. I find great joy in partnering with others to accomplish meaningful goals and objectives.”
In District 4, incumbent Councilman Dean Burrell has not filed yet but said he would be seeking reelection. Weeg says he’s running to help spur along some key Berlin projects he believes in and to bring a spirit of teamwork back to town hall.
“Communication in town hall is one thing that has to become far more congenial and productive,” he said. “There is a certain air of surprise, and lack of teamwork that has become the norm in our council meetings and that has to stop. We need to make sure that we do not lose steam or direction on the community center. We also have a slew of developers, and land grabs happening all around us and we need to make sure that we have a clear path on our future, and what the bounds of our town look like. I think that keeping Berlin, Berlin, and retaining a way of life is crucial to the success of the town from a resident, business, and visitor standpoint. I also believe that we need to revisit the short-term rental legislation and accommodate special circumstances in town where it does make sense to have a second building on your property that is livable, and shareable with a visitor to our town. I also think we need clear direction with the layout and contents of our parks –we have a 100% community funded skatepark coming, and we need to come together on a location, and move forward to give the kids this awesome town feature. I know that I can bring a process efficiency mindset, and a wealth of computer and communication knowledge that does not exist in the chambers today.”