The spring election took an interesting turn this week with the sudden retirement announcement by the Ladysmith city administrator, who also pitched his hat into the ring of a city council alderman race.
City Administrator Al Christianson informed the city’s personnel committee Monday of his intention to retire effective April 3, days before the Tuesday, April 7 spring election. He currently is circulating candidacy papers to run for city alderman in District 4, where incumbent Jon Fields declared he would not seek re-election.
“It was hard,” Christianson said of the decision to retire. “I do like some of this position, but not all of it.”
Christianson, 66, the city administrator since Jan. 1, 1986, said he wants to spend more time on personal matters and yet stay somewhat involved in city functions. He said he is eligible for retirement, adding he has applied for state retirement and Social Security.
General law regulates “compatibility of office” matters when a public employee seeks political office, according to Wisconsin Elections Commission Public Information Officer Reid Magne. State rules require state employees to take a leave of absence if they seek state office but local rules apply in a municipal race, he said.
“There is no state law that says [a city employee] who wants to run has to resign or take a leave of absence while they are running,” Magne said.
That changes, however, if the public worker wins the election.
“You can’t be both the boss and the employee,” Magne said.
If Christianson wins a council seat, he would have to quit as administrator at the time of being sworn into office, according to Magne.
“That would be a compatibility of office issue where you can’t be both a boss and an employee at the same time,” Magne said. “At the time he would have to decide what he wanted do. Theoretically having won, he could decide he is going to take the oath of office and stay on in his [municipal] job, and then that [elected] office would be vacant. If he is sworn in, he would have to resign.”
Magne said a city employee like Christianson can remain employed by the municipality at the same time he is seeking elected office for the city where he works.
“He doesn’t have to do anything now,” Magne said. “If he runs and loses, and decides he still wants to still be involved with the city, he can remain as city administrator as long as the city council wants.”
Christianson expected the council to begin advertising the city administrator position soon. Several years ago, when Christianson also was mulling retirement, the city personnel committee revised its city administrator job description.
Christianson had informed city officials he would probably retire sometime in 2020, but an exact date remained in doubt until this week Monday, he added.
The election candidacy filing deadline in most cases was 5 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 7. In cases where a declaration of non-candidacy was not filed, this deadline was extended 72 hours to 5 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10. This applies in races for districts 2 and 4.
In city of Ladysmith races:
Mayor — Incumbent Alan Christianson is running unopposed.
District 2 — Incumbent Bill Morgan filed a campaign finance statement this week and now has until 5 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10 to file nomination papers.
District 4 — Incumbent Jon Fields is not seeking re-election. Al Christianson and Gerard Schueller filed campaign finance statements and now have until 5 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10 to file nomination papers.
District 6 — Incumbent Al Hraban is running unopposed.
Municipal Court Judge — Incumbent Terry Carter is running unopposed.
Rusk County Board
The following offices are up for re-election on the Rusk County Board.
District 1 — Incumbent Terry DuSell will face challenger Pete Boss.
District 2 — Incumbent Jerry Biller did not file for re-election.
District 3 — Incumbent Al Rathsack will run unopposed.
District 4 — Incumbent Tony Hauser will run unopposed.
District 5 — Incumbent Kathy Vacho did not file for re-election.
District 6 — Incumbent Bob Stout will run unopposed.
District 7 — Incumbent Randy Tatur did not file for re-election.
District 8 — Incumbent Lyle Lieffring will run unopposed.
District 9 — Incumbent Bill McBain will run unopposed.
District 10 — Incumbent Ken Pedersen will run unopposed.
District 11 — Incumbent Phil Schneider will run unopposed.
District 12 — Incumbent Roger Gierke will face challenger Jim Meyer.
District 13 — Incumbent Mark Schmitt is running unopposed.
District 14 — Incumbent Lisa Dobrowolski is running unopposed.
District 15 — Incumbent Tom Hanson is running unopposed.
District 16 — Incumbent Kathy Mai will not seek re-election.
District 17 — Incumbent Dave Willingham is running unopposed.
District 18 — Incumbent Mike Hraban is running unopposed.
District 19 — Incumbent Ken Brown is running unopposed.
There will be no names printed on ballots for county board seats in districts 2, 5, 7 and 16, where write-in candidates likely will be elected.
Ladysmith School Board — There are four seats up for re-election with incumbents Gerard Schueller, Melissa Rudack and Jeff Wallin and challenger Colleen Peters filing to run. Incumbent Linda Detra will not seek office. Three positions will be three-year terms and the fourth position will be a two-year term.
The spring election is April 7 with a primary election if necessary on Feb. 18.