Response to Mayor Williams Comments - Berlin, MD
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Recent internet postings and media reports quote Mayor Gee Williams accusing the Berlin Fire Company of backing a write-in campaign against the Mayor in this past Tuesday’s town election. The Mayor’s accusation is false. The fire company has not participated in support of any political campaigns, as is our formal policy. Individual members of the fire company may participate in political campaigns as they choose, as is their constitutional right. Mayor Williams should recognize the distinction. The fire company’s policy of non-involvement in elections is clear and longstanding. In situations where fire company members have been candidates for elected office, no organizational support has been provided to them. When those candidates made use of our facilities, they were required to pay rent just any other person or group would. Of further concern is the fact that individuals were approached by candidates at the polls, asked their names and asked to disclose for whom they voted – and going so far as to take pictures – merely because they wore a fire company tag or had a fire company sticker on their vehicle. No candidate should be entitled to press any voter for such information. On the matter of the annual town Christmas parade, the fire company has supported the efforts of the Lions Club for many years, providing vehicles and generators for the parade and incurring significant expense for fuel and other costs. The recent decision by the Mayor and Council to remove all funding has forced the fire company to review all of its non-emergency expenditures, which includes participation at parades including the Berlin Christmas parade. The fire company informed the Lions Club, (prior to the takeover of the Christmas parade by the Mayor), that we could not afford to commit as much support as in previous years. Despite our budget problem, the Berlin Fire Company has committed to providing a vehicle for Santa and one additional vehicle in the parade. To be clear, Mayor Williams has not made a specific request to the Berlin Fire Company for anything more than what it has already offered for the parade. Just this week, Mayor Williams declined the Fire Company’s invitation to attend our general membership meeting to discuss the parade. We have proudly served the Town of Berlin and the surrounding area for the past 102 years. Even during this budget crisis, we stand committed to protecting the health, safety and property of this community.
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