Ocean City Today

Worcester Commissioners elect new president and VP

Diana Purnell first female African-American selected; Elder second in command
By Brian Gilliland | Dec 07, 2017
Photo by: Kim Moses Diana Purnell and Ted Elder

(Dec. 8, 2017) Central and Western Worcester County representatives Diana Purnell and Ted Elder assumed the roles of commissioner president and vice president on Tuesday, with Purnell moving up from vice president, and Elder replacing Purnell as vice president.

Purnell takes over for Jim Bunting, who has served as president since this board’s term started in 2014.

Purnell is not the first woman president on the board of county commissioners, both Jeanne Lynch and Louise Gulyas served before, according to Kim Moses, county public information officer. Nor is she the first of African-American heritage, as James Purnell also served in the role, but Diana Purnell is the first woman of African American heritage to serve as president of the Worcester County Commissioners.

“Thank you for your support,” she said. “It takes seven of us. Seven opinions to do the job that needs to be done.”

Purnell said she had a goal in mind, and that was for the board to be uniform in its opinions.

“I intend for us to be tight — in here and out of here,” she said.

Elder thanked the other members of the board for their confidence.

“I look forward to living up to your expectations,” he said.

Purnell was elected as a county commissioner in 2014. She is a voting member of the Tri-County Council for the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland, and as a member of the Social Services Board and the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council. She also is the first African-American woman to be elected commissioner.

Purnell is the former executive director of the Berlin Community Improvement Association and past-president of the Worcester County Commission for Women. She is an active member of the Atlantic General Hospital Foundation Board, the Worcester County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and St. John’s United Methodist Church. Purnell and her husband, Gabe, live in Berlin. The couple has two daughters, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Theodore “Ted” J. Elder was elected as a county commissioner in 2014. Elder is a voting member of the Tri-County Council for the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland and the Health Planning Advisory Council.

Elder has been a Worcester County bus contractor for 25 years and has been president of the Bus Contractor’s Association for the past 20 years. He filled in as a teacher for one term at the Worcester Technical High School. Elder has been a successful county business owner/operator since 1982. Prior to owning his own business, he managed a local service station.

Elder and his wife, Joyce, live in Whaleyville. The couple has three children, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

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