By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
(Sept. 22, 2022) Tony Weeg’s passion for a skate park in Berlin has practically made his name synonymous with the term and now, the 49-year-old husband and father of three is hoping he can demonstrate to the residents of District 4 that his local passion and business acumen translate to politics.
“I hope to show that there’s a different type of politician out there,” Weeg said while noting what he sees as a dearth of transparency in the local government. “One who’s not just there for a title but one who’s there to actually do things and get involved, spearhead projects and see them through. I see the people up there today making good decisions. Sometimes I don’t agree with their decisions but most of the time I like what they decide on. But I don’t see anyone taking the initiative for them. I want to bring about change in that way.”
Weeg’s background is in software development, photography and videography. He is also the president of 501(c)(3) nonprofit We Heart Berlin. These careers, he said, give him the right mix of know-how to confront the communication issues he sees at council meetings.
“I’m a nerd. I was billed as a computer developer,” he said. “Communication and computers and everything technological are like riding a bike for me. I can teach people how to use those technologies for our benefit.”
This will be Weeg’s second go-round at running for the Berlin Town Council. In 2020, he lost to current at-large Councilmember Jay Knerr for the vacancy left by Thom Gulyas. He looks at that loss as a valuable teaching moment.
“Two years ago I knew I could help but I didn’t know how to explain it,” Weeg said. “I didn’t know how I’d be able to apply my talents to town meetings …“My loss to Jay Knerr gave me the fire to create the non-profit (We Heart Berlin) and start the projects I wanted to see happen two years ago. All of these things were on my website as things that I wanted to accomplish and we just started knocking them off the list. When I get into council, I don’t see my fervor or my fire or desire to make things happen to lessen. In fact, I think they’ll ramp up.”
Some people around Berlin argue that stormwater management is one of — if not the biggest — issues facing the town, and Weeg tends to agree. While he didn’t commit to saying he’d vote to raise taxes, he pointed out that taxes ought to be raised for necessities, which stormwater management is.
“In the past, various councils have been hesitant to raise taxes because it might not get spent on infrastructure and we know darn well that we have infrastructure needs that are going to need funding in the future,” Weeg said. “To say that nobody will raise taxes … I would personally never put some sort of promise like that out there. I don’t know what we’re going to face. But I can say that I’m not into raising taxes for anything frivolous. I’m not into raising taxes for anything that wouldn’t be an absolute need for the town and something that helps everybody.”
Weeg also pointed to the grant request process as needing a closer look, disagreeing with what he sees as asking for “too big of a piece of the pie” as Plan A and investing no effort into backup plans. He lamented the failed request for $1 million for a playground at Stephen Decatur Park, saying that the money could have been broken up with upgrades to the park and other investments, such as a skate park.
He’d also like to see more communication and cooperation from Mayor Zack Tyndall to the rest of the council, saying that he’s unsure if he’d be able to change anything but he would “certainly be there to ask for it even harder than it’s been asked for before.”
“I think communication is the one thing I harp on the most because I think it’s the most important,” Weeg said. “When we have councilmembers and people coming to council meetings who are blindsided by things, that shows me that we have a lack of communication. We can head that off at the pass with certain, simple things that make communication easier. Then we move forward as a town in lockstep versus moving forward as a town being blindsided and not knowing what’s going on in the ivory tower.”