Janesville11.2°

Edgerton elections a real brainteaser

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
April 6, 2010
— The outcome of today’s Edgerton mayoral and aldermanic elections could complicate things.

Matt McIntyre and Chris Lund—both council incumbents representing District 2—are facing off in a bid for the mayor’s seat. In addition to running for mayor, Lund is seeking re-election to his council seat and faces Marvin Charleston in that bid. McIntyre's council seat isn't up for election this year.


What’s clear: One council member will become mayor, and his empty seat on the council will need to be filled for one year.


What’s not clear: Who’ll fill it.


In the simplest scenario, McIntyre would win his mayoral bid, and Lund, the mayoral race loser, would win his separate bid for alderman. That would leave McIntyre’s second district seat open for alderman runner-up Marvin Charleston.


If Lund wins both races, he’s said he’d likely take the mayoral post. That still would leave an aldermanic berth for Charleston.


But what if Lund loses in both elections? That would put Charleston on the council, McIntyre in the mayor’s seat and leave McIntyre’s council seat open.


“I’m trying not to think about that. I’m just trying to get through tomorrow night. But it better not happen,” Lund told the Gazette on Monday.


Even if Lund loses both elections, he still could end up on the council, taking over McIntyre’s seat.


City Clerk Cindy Hegglund said it’s more complicated than that.


“A lot of people think the second runner-up candidate automatically gets handed an open seat, but that’s not the way that it works,” Hegglund said.


In the past, the Edgerton City Council has solicited interested members of the public for any aldermanic vacancy, Hegglund said.


Under that method, she said, anyone in the aldermanic district interested in the open seat could submit a letter of interest. The council would interview all candidates in open session.


“I’d like to see it continue that way,” Lund said. “It’s always worked well, and I’d be willing to participate in that process either way.”


The Gazette could not reach McIntyre and Charleston on Monday for comment.


Hegglund said interviews for open seats sometimes yield the first glimpse of someone—essentially a dark horse candidate—who seeks to serve as alderperson without running a campaign.


“Some people just don’t want to go through the electoral process, but they want to give being alderperson a try on a one-year term, just to see what it’s all about,” she said.


It’s also possible the council could leave the seat unfilled for a year, although Hegglund said that would be unlikely.


Ultimately, Hegglund said, appointment to fill an open council seat must come through a majority vote by the council. She said that vote might not come until the city’s new mayor takes office April 20.


Alderman Ken Westby knows what it’s like to petition for a vacant seat on Edgerton’s city council.


After two years as a District 3 alderman, Westby lost a re-election bid in 2009.


Later in 2009, when alderperson Carrie Strahota vacated her council seat to move to another city, Westby petitioned for the open post. The council interviewed Westby alongside another candidate, ultimately appointing Westby to the open seat.


“They hit me with some hard questions. It was like a tough job interview, and in my 35 years of work experience, I never had a job interview,” Westby said.


If the council makes an appointment to fill a vacancy, Westby said council members should weigh prior experience with a candidate’s sense of dedication.


“It’s not just sitting there a couple of hours a few times a month. It takes more time than that,” he said. “The question is, are you going to give this city what it takes?”



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