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Purnell officially steps aside

By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer

Former Berlin Councilmember Troy Purnell accepts a mayor’s citation for his 12 years of service to District 1.

(Oct. 13, 2022) Troy Purnell could be found where he’s usually found every other week two nights ago, at the Berlin Mayor and Town Council Meeting. But instead of sitting on the panel of elected officials at the front of the room, he was in the crowd, for the first time in 12 years.

The former councilmember for Berlin’s District 1 decided earlier this year not to run for reelection. On Tuesday, first-time councilmember Steve Green took over his long-time friend’s seat.

“I’ve done my time,” Purnell said heading into the meeting. “Steve and I are pretty good friends and I thought he’d be a really good fit. People suggested running to him and I said if he did, I won’t. I couldn’t think of a better person to hop in my shoes.”

Purnell was first elected in 2008, taking over for Gee Williams, who was assuming the role of mayor after former Mayor Tom Cardinale died in office.

When asked about his accomplishments and effectiveness as a councilmember, Purnell kept his response modest and reached back to his first year when a sidewalk was approved and installed on Broad Street.

He brought up an ongoing “struggle” as well — monitoring any potential new taxes.

Others, however, highlighted the know-how he brought to the council and the way he looked out for town employees.

“Troy definitely brought a level of experience, or type, that was a little different,” town administrator Mary Bohlen said. “He had considerably more knowledge in the development and construction fields which afforded the council a different perspective. He had knowledge that was valuable to town projects and he was often able to confirm or identify potential ways to approach things differently.”

Green praised Purnell for supporting incremental property tax increases to fund annual employee raises, fund infrastructure repairs and establish a rainy day fund. He cited Purnell’s vote against last year’s budget on the grounds that an employee raise of 5 percent wasn’t enough.

“(He believed) 10 percent … was necessary,” Green wrote in an email. “I respect that position and his willingness to stand on his own. I will need to learn much more about the budget to determine whether his opposition was the right call, but I have always admired his support for the town employees and seeing the big picture as far as the expenses necessary to manage and operate our historic town. I’m excited to switch positions with Troy, and I suspect he won’t be shy about expressing his concerns with me as they arise, just as I hope all constituents will be.”

As for his future, the Ocean City-based Realtor said it’ll be business as usual in his professional life, but that he’ll continue to attend Town Council meetings.

“I’ll just be enjoying my time and enjoying the people we work with in Berlin,” he said. “I’ll still be keeping an on it.”