Windsor looks for write-in candidate for council

Published 9:00 am Sunday, June 30, 2024

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The Windsor Town Council has three members whose terms are expiring at the end of this year, but there will be only two council candidates on the ballot this November. This could pave the way for a write-in candidate to win and serve on the council in the third open seat.

Town Council members whose terms expire Dec. 31 include Walter Bernacki, Jake Redd and Marlin W. Sharp.

Redd and Sharp have opted to run for reelection and are the two qualified candidates that will be on the ballot.

Bernacki announced in February that he would not be seeking reelection.

Isle of Wight County Director of Elections and General Registrar Lisa Betterton indicated that this was the first time she had encountered the scenario of having more Windsor Town Council seats up for election than qualified candidates on the ballot. She researched how the situation needed to be handled and provided the following information.

“Due to there being three seats up for election, the ballot will state ‘vote for no more than three,’ even though there will be only two candidates listed,” she stated. “If someone in the town should decide to run for the third seat, they will have to run a write-in campaign. Voters can vote for the two Town Council candidates and then put the name of the write-in on the Write-In line.

“I have spoken to (Windsor Town Manager) William Saunders, and we are hoping someone will show an interest in running as a write-in,” she continued. “If not, any name written in, even as a joke, could be the third Town Council member. If that person declines, the town council will have to appoint someone and call for a special election at a later date, hopefully November 2025.”

In February, Bernacki offered a two-part insight into what prompted him to conclude his time of service on the council at the end of this calendar year, including alluding to a potential post-retirement move away from the area.

“My parents are getting elderly, and they live nearby, so I’m finding that, like a lot of people today, (I) have (to) cut back on some other things to take care of family,” he said. “Being a Christian and a Biblical guy, even in the Bible it mentions to take care of mothers, your family, respect them, and so that was part of the decision.

“The other part of it was, probably within the next four years or a little sooner, I’m set to retire, and I didn’t want to get into another term and then all of a sudden have to leave during the middle of the term or any part of that term,” he said. “I don’t think that’s fair to the citizens, and it would have potentially put the council one person down in some potentially critical decisions at the time that may come up and things of that nature.”

He made an appeal in February to people who might be interested in serving on the council, encouraging them to do the work necessary to get onto the ballot.

“I was hopeful, and I had mentioned to a couple people that I thought would be good candidates that, ‘Hey, this might be interesting if you want to try to serve the town that way,’” Bernacki said in a June 20 interview. “Obviously, they decided not to, which is their decision. I understand that it does take some time, and there is some dedication to some additional meetings, like work sessions and special meetings that are needed. … I can understand in today’s world, because of the economy and other factors out there, there’s a lot of (two-income families), and if they’ve got kids and a situation like I’m in with one of my family members, it takes some time, and it’s a big decision. So as much as I was hopeful, I can understand.”

However, he made another appeal, directing it to those who may be interested in being a write-in candidate.

“I appeal to anyone in the community that has an interest in helping to serve the community and direct it forward in the future to maybe talk to their neighbors, use social media or what other avenues that are out there to at least express, ‘Hey, I didn’t jump up initially in time to get my name on the official ballot, but if you want to write my name in, then go ahead,’ and maybe that person would be fortunate enough to get elected,” he said.

Bernacki did indicate that he would be open to another year of service, if it proved necessary.

He said that “if the situation occurs where there is no write-in that meets the requirement and that (seat) is open, if the town needed me for an additional year just until we could all go out and seek individuals interested to maybe run in the next election, I could hang on for one more year to keep assisting with them if they so choose as a council, because ultimately that’s their decision.”