How to fill an office

Town of Fredonia voters will decide Tuesday whether to change clerk, treasurer from elected to appointed posts
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press Staff

With Tuesday’s election dominated by state elections and their national implications, there’s one important local ballot item in the Town of Fredonia.

That’s whether the town clerk and treasurer positions should be elected by the town’s voters or appointed by the Town Board.

The Town Board passed an ordinance in June to change the clerk and treasurer positions from elected to appointed. But their decision must be approved by a majority of town electors in Tuesday’s election.

The ballot question asks: “Shall the persons holding the office of town clerk and town treasurer in the Town of Fredonia be appointed by the Town Board?”

Under the ordinance, a majority of the board can appoint a clerk and treasurer for a term to not exceed three years and reappoint the same person for multiple terms. Removal from office can be for cause.

The salary of the positions will be set by the Town Board.

A “yes” vote by the majority of voters would make the positions appointed. A “no” vote means they would remain elected.

Arguments in favor of making the positions appointed include: a wider pool of applicants, including those already employed as clerk or treasurer in other municipalities, would be eligible for appointed positions since being elected requires town residency; the Town Board can look at the qualifications of an appointed person while they cannot require training or work experience of an elected person; an appointed person can be fired for cause or not have their term renewed when it ends whereas an elected person can be removed only by recall or through an election.

The primary argument in favor of keeping the position elected is that voters would retain direct control over who serves in those positions.

In a letter to the editor in this week’s Ozaukee Press, Town Chairman Rich Mueller equated elections to a “beauty contest” where qualifications might count for less than personal connections or popularity.

“The positions have grown to where the clerk and treasurer positions do need a specific set of skills in order to do a good job,” he wrote.

The town’s current clerk is Bob Eichner. The current treasurer is Jean Wills​.

In his letter, Mueller said “the Town Board is 100% behind” Eichner and Wills and indicated they would be appointed to the jobs if the referendum passes.

According to the Wisconsin Towns Association web site, of 1,255 towns in Wisconsin there are currently 188 appointed clerks, 122 appointed treasurers, 101 appointed clerk-treasurers and 106 elected clerk-treasurers.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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