Clerks seeing few candidates thus far
Everyone has an opinion on how his or her tax dollars should be spent.
Those opinions seem to get sharper during a recession, when every dollar counts.
But so far, opinions don’t seem to be translating into candidates for local elections, area clerks said.
“It’s a tough time to get into local politics,” said Lori Stottler, Rock County clerk and a member of the Janesville School Board. “It’s kind of like signing up for a bad rash or a root canal.”
Nomination papers for April elections are due Jan. 5, but candidates have had weeks to take out papers and gather signatures.
Several municipalities report that few people other than incumbents have taken out nomination papers so far.
In Janesville, four people have taken out papers to run for three city council seats. Three of those people are incumbents, and the fourth, K. Andreah Briarmoon, has run in the last five elections.
That compares to nine candidates for four seats in 2009, 11 candidates for three seats in 2008 and eight candidates for four seats in 2007.
City Clerk Jean Wulf believes a lack of incumbents running in 2007 and 2008 might have attracted more candidates those years.
In Milton, two of the three city council incumbents—Lynda Clark and David Adams—have said they intend to run again.
The third, Fred Hookham, said he doesn’t intend to run, and no non-incumbents have taken out forms.
That’s disturbing to council member Brett Frazier. The city could decide the future of several facilities in 2010, including the fire station, public works building and police station. He wants residents to have a choice in who votes on those issues, he said.
“These issues that affect people directly, they’re decided by six people,” he said. “That’s more direct than anything that happens at the federal level.”
Milton Clerk Nancy Zastrow said she would have expected more candidates because five people applied to fill the city council spot vacated by Mayor Tom Chesmore last year.
She thought the promise of $1,200 a year also might entice some potential candidates.
But Dan Thompson, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, said he wouldn’t be surprised to see fewer candidates this April. Most board positions, if they pay anything, barely cover babysitting expenses, he said.
Meanwhile, people have other things on their mind, he said.
“When the economy’s bad, people have to work more hours (and) they’re more concerned about making commitments that maybe they can’t keep,” he said.
A lack of contested elections often results in low voter turnout, something Stottler is trying to fight this year as part of her certified public management program.
She hopes people look past the difficulties and step up to make a difference for their communities, she said.
“When you see good roads, good jobs, clean water, those are the paybacks,” she said. “Those are the things you can say for the rest of your life, ‘I had something to do with that.’”
AT A GLANCE
Here’s a list of people who have taken out nomination papers as of Wednesday in Janesville, Milton and Edgerton:
- Janesville City Council: The seats held by Tom McDonald, Yuri Rashkin and Kathy Voskuil are up for election. They all have taken out papers. K. Andreah Briarmoon, 339 S. Locust St., also has taken out papers.
- Janesville School Board: The seats held by Tim Cullen, Diedre Richard and Peter D. Severson are up for election. Cullen has said he will not run again. Richard; Severson; Karl Dommershausen, 2419 Plymouth Ave.; Rene Bue, 3021 Palmer Drive No. 10; and Kristin Hesselbacher, 1210 N. Martin Road, have taken out papers.
- Milton City Council: The seats held by David Adams, Lynda Clark and Fred Hookham are up for election. Adams and Clark have said they intend to run again; Hookham does not intend to run again. No non-incumbent has taken out papers.
- Milton School Board: The seats held by Rob Roy and Jan Bue-Wells are up for election. Bue-Wells has filed a declaration of non-candidacy. Roy and Betsy Lubke, 949 Bowers Lake Road, Milton, had taken out papers as of Friday. The school district is closed this week for winter break.
- Edgerton City Council: The seats held by Ron Webb, Chris Lund and Ken Westby are up for election. Webb and Westby have taken out papers.
The mayor’s seat also is up for election, and Mayor Erik Thompson has filed a declaration of non-candidacy. Lund and Alderman Matt McIntyre have taken out papers for the position.
- Edgerton School Board: The seats held by Brian Donnelly, Amy Richardson and Jeff Smrecek are up for election. Donnelly and Smrecek don’t intend to run. Richardson; James Salimes, 9208 N. County H, Edgerton; John Falligant, 335 Craig Road, Edgerton; and Sara Stinski, 857 Bliven Road, Edgerton, have filed nomination papers.
TO BECOME A CANDIDATE
Candidates for the April elections must register by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5.
Candidates for school board or municipal government must submit a campaign registration form, declaration of candidacy and nomination papers containing between 20 and 200 signatures, depending on the size of your community, according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Some school board elections do not require nomination papers.
Contact your local municipal clerk or school district office for more information.