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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Secret election coup attempt fails

election day ploy to thwart the re-election bid of Mayor Gee Williams via a
surprise write-in campaign failed on Tuesday, as Williams claimed a 335-122
victory in what was originally an uncontested race. What became known Tuesday
morning, however, was that a quiet push to write-in former Councilwoman Ellen
Lang for mayor was under way and that the effort appeared to have been well
planned. Meanwhile, other municipal races took place without much drama.

Deputy Town
Administrator Mary Bohlen reported that District 2 Councilmember Lisa Hall beat
newcomer and former planning department intern Ronald Marney, 169-68, and
District 3 Councilmember Elroy Brittingham received 38 votes of confidence as
he ran unopposed.

The official
District 2 battle was between Hall and Marney, but write-ins Kirk Burbage and
Allen R. Mumford each received two votes, while Thomas Taylor Lynch and Thomas
Sholtis each earned one vote.

The winners will
serve four-year terms and that includes Williams, who expressed some post-election
relief. "

I’m grateful for
the support I received and that people came out to vote on what I see is a
referendum on Berlin’s future," Williams said.

Williams had
initially thought his return as mayor was essentially guaranteed, since no one
had stepped up to run against him, but the emergence of the write-in campaign
prompted him and his supporters to increase their efforts to get people to the

Because of the
running battle between town government and the Berlin Fire Company over how the
company addressed charges of harassment in the workplace earlier this year, the
assumption by many was that the fire company had orchestrated the mini-coup
attempt. Fire company officials on Wednesday, however, denied any role in the
write-in effort.

"The Berlin
Fire Company does not represent or support anything in the political
arena," said fire company President David A. Fitzgerald.

Lang issued a
similar statement.

“I have never
been contacted by the Berlin Fire Company in regard to this issue. I never campaigned
for the office and I never asked a single person to vote for me,” Lang said.

But a person
familiar with local politics and who wished to remain anonymous recalled
meeting with Lang to see if she was aware that an effort was being made to
launch a write-in movement. "When I play back our conversation in my head,
all she kept talking about was the fire company," said the source, who
added that Lang knew of the write-in campaign.

The fire company
continues to maintain that it has done everything the town has asked of it,
while town officials dispute that assertion, leaving the two sides at
loggerheads. In the summer, the council officially cut its annual funding to
the company, an estimated $600,000, because of what officials said was the
company’s failure to comply with its requirements.

The company’s
denials of political involvement notwithstanding, Williams put the blame on the
fire company in a statement on Wednesday.

“The company’s
actions were underhanded and did not demonstrate a positive way to choose
leaders. It should be an open campaign so people can make informed decisions. I
believe the outcome indicates that responsibility, respect and the truth are
still very important in our community."

After taking a
moment to reflecting on everything that occurred on Tuesday, Mayor Williams
stated "There is a lot of work ahead and I’m looking forward to work with
the council on trying to fulfill as much of Berlin’s potential as we can during
the next four years."