Lisa Hall challenged in District 2 election
BERLIN — While neither Mayor Gee Williams nor District 4 Councilmember Elroy Brittingham will have anyone run against them on Oct. 9, Councilmember Lisa Hall’s District 2 seat is being challenged by newcomer Ronald Marney.
A 24-year old graduate of Stephen Decatur High School, Marney says his educational focus on town planning has given him the qualifications to run for office.
“I have a lot of experience in town development and believe I have a lot to offer,” he said.
Through his undergraduate studies at Salisbury University and graduate school at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Marney’s education has culminated in his certification by the American Planning Association, a professional organization focused on the development of communities. Marney has already been involved in Berlin planning, as he previously volunteered as an intern for Chuck Ward, planning and zoning director of Berlin.
Under Ward, Marney was involved in the rewriting of Berlin’s zoning code that was adopted late August.
He also said he has plenty of ideas to help build the community.
“I’m going to focus on getting our flooding situation under control,” Marney said. “Everyone in the town has lost a lot. I think it’s one of our town’s biggest issues.”
Referencing the 1,000-year-storm last month that caused thousands of dollars of damage to residents’ cars and properties, he said cleaning and maintaining ditches around town should be a strong focus to alleviate drainage problems.
Another issue Marney said he would pursue is improving the town’s energy performance.
Since he understands he is young and not well known around town, Marney is giving out his email address -- firstname.lastname@example.org. -- to anyone who wishes to ask him questions.
Hall, who is nearing the end of her first term on the council, says she is running again to take care of unfinished town business.
“I’m concerned about the stormwater issue,” she said.
While the town has spent the past four years concentrating on making improvements to Berlin’s electric utility department, according to Hall, she said stormwater problems were put on the backburner.
“I feel there are short-term things we can do now to help residents,” she said.
The town has been hesitant to take any action on the stormwater drainage issue until it receives the results of the University of Maryland study the town’s drainage. The report, and any deficiencies the study might find, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
She has advocated for the cleaning and regular maintenance of Berlin’s ditches, and additionally said the retention ponds also need attention.
Hall also wishes to shorten the regular Mayor and council meetings, saying that the public begins to lose interest after an hour and a half into session. Through her involvement with the Main Street Berlin organization, the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, taking classes at the Maryland Municipal League and her involvement in other community services, Hall said she has more than enough experience and time to run for another term.
“I’m retired now and available to participate in a lot of undertakings,” she said.
Hall also is taking questions via email. Her address is email@example.com.
Councilmember Brittingham, who is running unopposed, said he wishes to continue his 24 years of service on the council to take care of several town issues.
“Every time we have an election, we have a really heated issue that drives me to run for another term because I want it finished,” he said.
“Drainage is another big problem,” said Brittingham, who hopes the university study will allow the council to make major fixes.
Another issue Brittingham is adamant about fixing is the dispute between the Berlin Mayor and Council and the Berlin Fire Company.
In August, the town cut its funding to the fire company based on an alleged claim of harassment at the workplace. Heads of the fire company said the matter has been resolved and is of non-issue, while the town says it continues to receive complaints.
“I don’t want to be in this dispute, but when it comes down to a workplace problem like that this day in time, you have to follow the rules,” Brittingham said.
Brittingham also wishes to see the effort continue to build sidewalks for all town residents, with a focus on Flower Street.
“I push harder now than ever before for Flower Street because of the heavy traffic from the schools,” he said.
He said he expects sidewalks to run through Flower Street completely within two years.
Brittingham also is advocating using money from the Casino at Ocean Downs to move Berlin’s police station from its location in Town Hall on William Street to an area of land the town owns off Route 113 across from Uncle Willie’s.
“They don’t need to be downtown, and being on the highway would allow them to better respond to emergencies,” Brittingham said.
The deadline for voter registration has passed, but absentee ballots will be available until Oct. 5.
Only residents of District 2 are eligible to vote for the contended seat, which mostly encompasses town properties north to Broad Street and south to Buckingham Lane, stretching east from the western town limits to Route 113. Properties east of 113 and west of Decatur Street are also included in District 2, as far north as Meadow Street.
District 2 polling will take place Oct. 9 at Buckingham Presbyterian Church on 20 S. Main St. from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Voting for the seats held by Mayor Gee Williams and Councilmember Brittingham will not take place, as no one filed to run against each official.
For any questions about the election and to find out what properties fall in each district, call Mary Bohlen, deputy town administrator at 410-641-4314 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.