December 23, 2020 – West Bend, WI – This week the West Bend Common Council made a decision not to fill the vacant District 6 aldermanic seat and let the public decide its next representative in the April 2021 Spring Election.
The seat became vacant in November 2020 following the death of alderman Steve Hoogester. According to police in Door County, Hoogester died in a hunting-related accident on Sunday, November 22.
The council had three options on how it could fill the post including making an appointment following an application process, hold a special election or let the election process play out and fill the seat following the April 2021 election.
“Practically speaking, since District 6 is up for election this spring a special election would run concurrent with that election and wouldn’t get someone in sooner than the actual election would,” said city attorney Ian Prust.
District 8 alderwoman Meghann Kennedy made a motion to leave the position vacant.
“I know we have at least one candidate and it seems normal to have that election run as is,” she said. “If we had a special election that would run in tandem, so I would motion to leave the seat vacant until District 6 constituents have the chance to vote and decide who they would like to represent them.”
District 2 alderman Mark Allen posed a friendly statement be added. “People in District 6 can contact any alderman and the aldermen will fill their needs for representation,” said Allen.
If the January 5, 2021 candidacy deadline arrives and there is only one candidate running for the seat, attorney Prust said the council is free to revise the process at any time and even appoint the lone candidate to fill the seat ahead of the April election.
Alderman Allen then questioned whether that would upend someone if they opted to file a write-in campaign. He said the council should not pull the trigger too quickly on a decision.
“It is not a done deal and we shouldn’t take it as a reason to make an appointment. It is either something we want to go ahead and do now or we wait for the process,” he said.
Alderman Dolnick questioned whether paperwork was needed for a write-in as well. Allen said the registered write-in process was more difficult than simply filing candidacy by the January 5 deadline but it was possible.
The council then voted unanimously to leave the seat vacant and let the taxpayers in District 6 decide their next representative in the Spring Election on April 6, 2021.
So far one candidate, Tracy Ahrens has filed all the necessary paperwork including the campaign registration, declaration of candidacy and required signatures.
Early word is another candidate is expected to file in District 6 before the upcoming deadline.
Josh McCutcheon previously filed to run in District 6 however he withdrew his application after the mayor asked that he be appointed to fill a vacancy on the Library Board.
On Tuesday, December 22 Chris Thompson pulled papers to run in District 2.