Berlin Councilmembers Sworn In

Berlin Councilmembers Sworn In
Pictured, from left, are Council members Steve Green, Jack Orris and Dean Burrell, Mayor Zack Tyndall, Council members Jay Knerr and Shaneka Nichols and Town Administrator Mary Bohlen. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

BERLIN– Successful candidates in Berlin’s municipal election began their tenure this week after being sworn in by Mayor Zack Tyndall.

On Tuesday, new Councilman Steve Green and returning Councilmen Dean Burrell and Jay Knerr were sworn in. Burrell was quickly reelected as vice president of the council following an endorsement by Tyndall.

“I don’t have a vote in the matter but my colleague Vice President Burrell and I have worked well together over the past two years and then as councilmembers as well so I do respect and value your opinion,” Tyndall said.


Jay Knerr is pictured at Tuesday’s swearing in ceremony.

This week’s council meeting, held Tuesday because of the holiday Monday, began with Tyndall swearing in Burrell, Knerr and Green and recognizing Troy Purnell, who previously held Green’s seat, for his 14 years of service as a councilman.

When it came time for council comments at the end of the meeting, those elected in the Oct. 4 election took the opportunity to thank their constituents. While Green and Knerr were unopposed, Burrell defeated challenger Tony Weeg by two votes in a tightly contested race in which just 72 of the 888 voters in District 4 cast ballots.

Burrell thanked the public for returning him to the District 4 seat.

“This election was the first time that a vote had been cast against me sitting here since I’ve been here,” he said.  “It really took some getting used to but those of you that encouraged me and had those uplifting comments I want each of you to know that they are and will be greatly appreciated. This election, this was believe it or not absolutely new to me. I’ve been sitting here almost forever. It was a learning experience and now that I have the confirmation of those folks of District 4 I will continue to do my best to support you and all of the citizens of the Town of Berlin.”

Green offered his congratulations to Burrell and Knerr as well as Weeg.


Steve Green, joined by family, is pictured at Tuesday’s swearing in ceremony.

“Not a lot of people file for office,” he said. “We all know Tony’s a force for good. I look forward to him staying involved.”

Green went on to thank the volunteers on the town’s elections committee who’d made the municipal election possible and thanked Purnell for his 14 years of service to the town. He assured citizens he would be accessible to them moving forward.

“I want to let them know I’m open and available at all times,” he said.

Resident Sara Hambury suggested the fact that the police station was the District 4 polling location might have had a negative impact on voter turnout. Mayor Zack Tyndall said using the police station as a polling location was a temporary measure. Previously, District 4 voters cast ballots at the multi-purpose building. He said that once a community center is established in that neighborhood, voting could take place there.

Resident Mary Hedlesky said she agreed with Hambury about the police station potentially deterring some residents from voting. She asked why the town’s election wasn’t on the same day as the national election in November.

“Traditionally municipalities have always voted separate from the national elections,” Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said. “If we did vote on the same day as the national election, it’s still not part of the election. It’d be separate.”


Dean Burrell, joined by family, is pictured at Tuesday’s swearing in ceremony.

She added that the town had inquired with Worcester County about doing that in the past but that it hadn’t been possible.

“I do intend to talk to them about it again,” Bohlen said. “In the past we’ve been told it’s something they could not accommodate.”

Tyndall said it was important to note that there had been elections at the police station in the past and voters had turned out for those.

“You have to look at it in the scope of what occurred,” he said, adding that in this year’s election, two candidates had been unopposed and the only true contest was in District 4. “That does limit voter turnout as well.”

Bohlen added that the weather on the day of the election had been cold and rainy.

“That had an impact as well,” she said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.