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Condos appointed to Lake Geneva council

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Kathleen Foody
August 25, 2009
— When Lake Geneva Mayor Bill Chesen was elected in April, he vowed to put the bitterness of the campaign against former mayor Spyro "Speedo" Condos behind him.

The city council's decision Monday night to fill a vacancy with Condos might make that more difficult.


After nearly two tense hours of citizen comments and discussion among city officials, Condos was selected to take over the seat left open when 1st District Alderman Gary Dunham resigned earlier this month.


The council first rejected, 4-3, a resolution to hold a special election, then voted, 4-2, to appoint Condos, also with a 4-2 vote. Alderman Frank Marsala said he would not vote on anything but holding an election and abstained from the appointment vote.


"Citizens in this city have just a couple opportunities to be heard directly: referendums and elections, and I can't imagine anyone on this council wants to deprive residents of their right to do that," Marsala said.


Dunham resigned Aug. 7, and the city council failed to raise a quorum during two previous meetings to discuss filling his seat. Aldermen Mary Jo Fesenmaier, Penny Roehrer and Tom Spellman were absent from both meetings. Roehrer and Fesenmaier were excused from each.


Spellman was not excused, but maintained that he sent an excuse for the second meeting.


The three aldermen were joined by Alderman Arleen Krohn in voting for Condos to fill the vacant seat.


Council members and City Attorney Dan Draper explained that past mayoral nominations for approval did not follow city statutes and that the city council could either call for a special election or make an appointment in the case of a vacancy.


The council chambers appeared to be split between citizens who supported Condos being appointed and those who supported holding a special election for the 1st District seat. Each side broke out in applause several times during the meeting and there was frequent muttering when people took the microphone to read their prepared statements.


Roehrer said she did not see a good reason to go against city tradition and hold a special election. Past appointments had worked out fine, she said.


Alderman Todd Krause said residents of his district had spoken strongly in support of a special election.


"We have the latitude to do that and we need to do that," he said before a vote was taken.


Chesen left his seat at the front of the chamber before a vote was taken and addressed the council from one of the microphones.


"The history of this council has always been ‘we want a referendum' for every boulevard … Here's a time where the statutes say you can have a vote, let the people in the district have their say, and you don't want a referendum," he said.


Chesen said he has drafted a complaint against the aldermen alleging illegal meetings and walking quorums, and he plans to file it with the Walworth County District Attorney's Office.


"I'm very much aware of what's going on and what's occurred," he said. "The meetings that have taken place … I'm just very disappointed in my council members."


Fesenmaier said she supported Condos because he had high energy and seemed to understand the fiscal situation of the city the best of all the people who expressed interest in the seat.



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