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Could Berlin election mirror four years ago?

Berlin Board of Supervisors of Elections Chairman Lou Creter, left, and board member John Briddell on Tuesday review applications by three incumbent candidates for the Berlin Town Council.

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(July 12, 2018) Four years ago the Town of Berlin election was canceled because the three council seats up for election were unopposed.

That year, Troy Purnell and Dean Burrell held onto the seats for District 1 and District 4, respectively, and newcomer Thom Gulyas won the At Large seat vacated by retiring Councilwoman Paula Lynch.

This year, the same three men have filed — Purnell, Burrell and Gulyas — and all three are again unopposed.

“I never dare to speculate, but typically, by now, if there are people who are interested in running I hear from them,” Administrative Services Director Mary Bohlen said during a Berlin Board of Supervisors of Elections meeting Tuesday night. “I haven’t heard from anyone. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything, so, only time will tell.”

Bohlen said town elections were canceled twice, most recently four years ago.

“If no one but the incumbents file, then we will cancel the election and they are considered winners by default,” she said. “That’s always a possibility. It doesn’t happen until you get to that 25th of September. You can’t make that determination [until then].”

Sept. 25 is the deadline for write-in candidates to file. Write-in candidates will not appear on the ballot, but are eligible for election.

The voter registration deadline is Aug. 31 and candidates who wish to appear on the ballot must file by Sept. 4, Bohlen said.

Election Day, if held, is scheduled Oct. 2.

Also scheduled Sept. 25 is the deadline for candidates to withdraw.

“That’s something that we put in a number of years ago, when we actually had a candidate who requested to withdraw two days before the election,” Bohlen said. “And that was at a time when we were still using the old voting machines, so there actually had to be workers come from the county to set those machines up.

“At that point his name was basically written in stone. We couldn’t possibly pull it off the ballot. All that we could do was say that we wouldn’t count any votes toward him,” she said.

“He had reasons to withdraw — he had all sorts of reasons,” Bohlen continued, adding the withdraw now had to be done in writing because of the previous incident. “Part of what happened with that particular circumstance was the individual’s wife called a sitting council member and said, ‘He doesn’t want to run anymore.’”

Bohlen then apparently got a call from the elected official, asking if the candidate’s name could simply be removed from the ballot.

“It doesn’t work that way!” she said with a laugh. “So, we put a few more rules into place to make it a little more official.”

Because only two of the four members of the elections board, Chairman Lou Creter and John Briddell, attended the meeting Tuesday, the three incumbent candidate applications were not officially certified.

Creter and Briddell signed off, but Bohlen said she would have at least one more board member certify the applications before they are considered validated.

The Berlin Board of Supervisors of Elections is scheduled to meet again on Sept. 4.