By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
(Sept. 22, 2022) Barring unforeseen issues, Berlin Councilmember Jay Knerr will see four more years on the council.
Knerr had been preparing to run against Adrian Bowen, but Bowen dropped out of the race suddenly last week. Knerr, who won the at-large seat that Thom Gulyas vacated in 2020, now runs unopposed.
Knerr owns the Kite Loft’s two locations in Ocean City. He’s lived in the area since 1982 and in the Town of Berlin since 2000, he said.
“My wife and I have loved every minute of it,” he said. “We raised our daughter here and it’s simply a wonderful place to live.”
He may only have two years of experience on the council, but Knerr has been a fixture in Worcester County for years — both in government and a member of different communities.
He has served as president of both the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce and the Ocean City Development Corporation. He is a member of the Atlantic General Hospital Board of Trustees. He’s been involved in the Ocean City Paramedic Foundation. He also chaired the Worcester County Planning Commission.
“I bring a wealth of experience to this position,” Knerr said. “In the past two years, we’ve done a lot of good things. Stormwater issues, we’ve stabilized the town’s finances. We have brought new businesses into Berlin. Just a lot of good things have happened and it’s why people are moving here. They want to live in Berlin.”
Looking ahead, Knerr said one of the biggest challenges facing Berlin is its aging infrastructure, in that it costs “a lot of money” and it needs to be worked on. He’d like to see the town work on its reserves for capital improvement so there can finally be movement on that end.
He also wants to see the town stabilize its police force by offering competitive pay and benefits, something he described as an ongoing issue.
Above all, Knerr wants to have a solid grasp not just on the extent to which Berlin grows, but how it grows.
“There are a lot of developers who want to come in and control big tracts of land,” he said. “We need to watch that and how it affects the town. It’ll trigger us to have to expand water and sewer access, which is a costly endeavor. We must do the right thing by town residents.”
Running unopposed means he doesn’t have to worry about making himself out to be more attractive than another candidate, but regardless, Knerr looks at his career in the area and sees himself as the man for this job.
“I’ll refer back to my experience,” he said. “The amount of time I’ve given to this area, community and the boards I’ve been on have given me a resume of skills that enable me to do this job quite effectively.”