Port group’s secret-ballot rejection of attempt to give ex officio members voting rights blasted by mayor, aldermen
Port Washington Main Street Inc. on Tuesday voted by secret ballot not to adopt a recommendation of the Common Council to allow the ex officio members of its board to become voting members.
The 7-2 vote angered city officials, who had lobbied for the recommendation.
“We weren’t even given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote,” Ald. Dan Becker said during the Common Council meeting that followed the Main Street board’s meeting. “It just shocked me.”
The council’s resolution called for the executive directors of Port Main Street, Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Council, as well as the city planner, to be full members of each other’s board of directors.
The Chamber has adopted the resolution, but the Tourism Council has not yet considered the matter.
After the vote, Main Street board member Harry Schaumburg said the ex officio members should not consider the vote a rejection of them or their work.
“The decision on this is in no way a reflection on the ex officio members, on their contributions,” he said. “I think we need to go on record and say this is not what we’re voting on.”
The ex officio members — Tourism Director Kathy Tank, Chamber Director Lisa Crivello and City Planner Randy Tetzlaff — have all been active on the Main Street board and as volunteers, board member Maria Kiesow noted.
Aldermen had lobbied hard for the recommendation to be adopted, appearing before the Main Street board in August to appeal for its approval.
Becker appeared at the Main Street board meeting Tuesday night to again lobby for its approval, saying, “It will only make this board stronger. The more people you have at the table, not just to express their opinion but to vote, the better. It’s great they all participate.”
Mayor Tom Mlada, a member of the Main Street board who was not present when the vote was taken, blasted the decision.
“It was an opportunity for the board to do the right thing, and it failed,” he said. “They took that opportunity tonight and flushed it down the toilet.”
Mlada said approving the measure would have rewarded the ex officio members for their hard work and dedication, saying they play a vital role and bring a valuable perspective to the Main Street board as well as coordinate efforts between the agencies, something that should be rewarded with voting rights.
“I think the losers were not just the three individuals who have been pouring themselves into Main Street for years now and have set a bar for collaboration and cooperation,” he said.
It would have made the Main Street board a better board, Mlada said.
“When we don’t have the best board possible, we don’t have the best program possible,” he said.
“For me, it’s a defeat that’s hard to stomach.”