By Joe Bachman
After lengthy- and at times heated- debate, city leaders on Tuesday opted to keep the city clerk position an elected one.
Consideration of a charter ordinance failed to pass with a 3-6 vote.
The consideration was made initially in light of the resignation of former City Clerk Shane Blaser, who left his position in December of last year. Although talks of this consideration have been on the table since October when Shane gave his original notice, it wasn’t brought to the full attention of the council until now.
“In this case we’re taking away a position to vote for,” said Alderman Tom Rayome, who opposed turning the position into an appointed one.
“It was expressed to me that if the clerk was appointed, there would be a conflict of interest regarding the election, because you are taking the person that runs the elections and making them accountable to an elected official,” said Steve Koth, alderman for the city’s fifth district, who shared Rayome’s sentiment.
But Mayor Zach Vruwink argued Wisconsin Rapids was in the minority, as one of only 14 cities in the state which have an an elected city clerk.
Vruwink added the position of city clerk does not make policy, which means there is no potential for conflict of interest.
Aldermen Todd Ferkey and Scott Kellogg sided with the mayor.
“I just want some type of accountability to this body,” Ferkey said, added an elected position wouldn’t have the same accountability to the council as one who would be appointed with a full job description of duties.
Kellogg said he was moved by Vruwink’s statistic that the majority of the state’s city clerks were appointed. He also said the position should be accountable to the council.
After the motion failed, Vruwink said the city would advertise an application process for those interested in the position.