Trustee helps push for law on how to fill vacant seats

Fredonia official testifies before Senate committee in effort to rewrite state statute

Josh Haas
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press Staff

It’s not every day a Fredonia village trustee gets to help write state legislation and testify before a state Senate committee.

But Josh Haas did this week, testifying Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues.

The proposed legislation would rewrite state statutes on how to fill vacancies on city councils and village boards.

Haas said he discovered the state law was confusing when the Village Board was looking at replacing former trustee Neil Wagner, who resigned last year.

“When we were going through the process of replacing him, I looked at the state statute and after reading it I was very confused on what the statute actually said,” Haas said.

Haas eventually contacted state Sen. Duey Stroebel and Rep. Rob Brooks about rewriting the statute.

Stroebel recently introduced the legislation in the Senate. Brooks will introduce it in the Assembly if it passes the Senate.

On Tuesday, Haas testified before the committee. 

Haas said a couple amendments were introduced and after those are written in, he expects it to pass through the Senate.

“There seems to be lots of support for it,” he said.

The rewritten legislation clarifies the dates governing when special elections can be held to fill board vacancies.

Under the amended legislation:

If a vacancy occurs before Dec. 1, the seat will be filled in the next spring election.

If the vacancy occurs after Dec. 1, the seat will be filled in the next fall election.

If a vacancy occurs before May 1, the seat will be filled in the coming fall election.

If the vacancy occurs after May 1, the seat will be filled in the first general election the following year.

The bill also allows a city council or village board to fill a vacancy by appointment, a special election or they can allow the seat to remain unfilled until the next election.

“It gives the councils more flexibility,” Haas said.

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