Approval of referendum by 87-63 margin ends longtime practice of election to fill seat
The Town of Port Washington will have an appointed town clerk beginning next spring.
Residents on Tuesday voted 87-63 to approve a referendum calling for the town to appoint, rather than elect the clerk.
Town Chairman Jim Melichar, who was vocal in his support of the referendum, said he was pleasantly surprised by the vote.
“I’ve heard more opposition toward it,” he said. “But it must have resonated among town residents.
“I feel good it passed. It’s good to have stability in the position and not have to worry about someone winning or losing an election.”
An appointed clerk will likely bring continuity to the post, Melichar added, something that’s important because of the amount of time it takes for someone to learn the position and its responsibilities.
“Jenny (Schlenvogt, the current clerk) puts a lot of time and effort into her job,” he said.
“The Town of Port Washington can’t leave itself open to a lot of hit-and-miss work. It needs the clerk there. The town might be small, but in the future, when development starts coming back, I think we’re going to have issues as big as the city.”
In accordance with the referendum, Schlenvogt will serve the remainder of her term, which ends next April.
The Town Board will then appoint a new clerk for a term of no more than three years.
Board members will have to determine the procedure to be used in appointing the clerk before that time, Melichar said.
This was the second time the issue of appointing the clerk was put to a referendum vote. A referendum on the question in 2010 failed, 343-319.
Although only 150 town residents cast votes Tuesday, Melichar said that was a pretty good turnout. Normally when there are only unopposed candidates on the ballot, 80 to 90 people vote, he said.
“I think the referendum was on the minds of people,” he said. “I feel confident the people who cared about the issue and were informed, turned out and voted.”
The town referendum was not the only local election on the ballot.
In the City of Port Washington, three aldermen running unopposed for their seats were re-elected. They are Paul Neumyer in the 2nd District, Doug Biggs in the 4th District and Dave Larson in the 6th District.
In the Port Washington-Saukville School District, Marchell Longstaff, who ran unopposed, was elected to a Town of Port Washington seat on the School Board being vacated by Kim Wood.
Two incumbents, Brian McCutcheon of the City of Port Washington, and Sara McCutcheon of the Village of Saukville, ran unopposed and were re-elected.