By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
(Oct. 6, 2022) On a wet, dreary day that turned out less than 75 voters in a district with more than 700, incumbent Berlin Town Councilmember Dean Burrell fended off challenger Tony Weeg by just two votes.
The remnants of a nor’easter that spun off from Hurricane Ian, having pounded the mid-Atlantic coast for the better part of a week, could have had something to do with the low turnout. Delayed schools and flooding around Berlin and Ocean City may have bumped the election from the forefront of many voters’ minds.
When the votes were all tallied up Tuesday night, Burrell had edged Weeg 37 to 35.
Burrell and Weeg greeted those who came out to the Berlin Police Department on Decatur Street, chatting with each other all the while. They had been there since 7 in the morning, they said around 4 p.m.
While their contest was good-natured in spirit, Burrell and Weeg were true opposites on one issue: how town government functions. Weeg has called for changes in transparency and how the mayor and Town Council interact with each other, while Burrell has said talk of more transparency worries him.
“When folks talk about transparency and making things more transparent, I get concerned, because if the opposite of transparency is things being unclear, hazy, just not the way it should be, but I know for my involvement with the mayor and council of the town of Berlin, those folks, we are a council that are people who would not stand for things not being done right,” Burrell said.
“Sometimes our decisions in the town and the council come into question but I believe each person on that council when they cast a vote, they’re doing what they feel is best for the town of Berlin.”
“No, we don’t always agree but that is expected because we’re all different — from different backgrounds and life experiences. I would be suspicious of a council that always agreed and always had those discussions but I know that folks on that council make decisions on what they feel is in the best interest of the town of Berlin and that is expected.”
Burrell will be sworn in alongside incumbent Jay Knerr and newcomer Steve Green for the at-large and District 1 seats, respectively, during Monday’s Berlin and Town Council meeting. The latter two ran unopposed.
Knerr, who owns the Kite Loft in Ocean City, has said he intends to keep pushing for new infrastructure, stabilizing the police force with better pay and controlling the town’s growth.
“In the past two years we’ve done a lot of good things,” Knerr said of his first half-term after taking over for Thom Gulyas, who gave up his seat when moved out of Berlin. “Stormwater issues, we’ve stabilized the town’s finances — we have brought new businesses into Berlin. Just a lot of good things have happened and it’s why people are moving here. They want to live in Berlin.”
Green, who comes from a newspaper background, ran on a platform of being committed and informed from the unique position of his professional background — both as a media observer and businessman.
As a small-business owner for the last 25 years, Green said he’s “very aware and feels it” when budget and tax changes are made.
“As a councilperson, I’m informed, assessable (and) committed,” he said in an interview last month. “Berlin is small enough that anyone can call me or approach me and I’ll listen to their concerns.”