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Council names Ehrlich president, plans to appoint alderman PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 20 September 2017 19:01

Port officials pick longtime alderman as leader, decide to fill vacancy five months before election

    As the makeup of the Port Washington Common Council continues to change, aldermen on Tuesday unanimously elected longtime Ald. Mike Ehrlich as council president, succeeding former Ald. Doug Biggs, and set in place a process to replace Biggs, whose resignation was effective Sept. 15.
    The council has undergone significant changes since two longtime aldermen were ousted in a spring election held in the wake of controversy over development in the city — particularly the Blues Factory and other lakefront developments — and a third aldermen stepped down.
    “I’ve got big shoes to fill between Ald. Biggs and Ald. Becker,” Ehrlich said, referring to former Ald., Dan Becker, who was the council president before Biggs. “Thank you very much.”
    Ehrlich, who has represented the city’s 1st District since 2009, was the only candidate nominated for council president. He was unanimously elected.
    There was no debate over Ehrlich’s nomination, but there was some debate over the process used to elect him.
    Ald. Dave Larson moved to use a voice vote to elect the president, but Ald. Mike Gasper suggested that aldermen only use that if one person was nominated for the post. If there was more than one candidate, Gasper said, it would make more sense to elect the president via ballots.
    That sort of mixed process is not allowed under Robert’s Rules of Order, City Attorney Eric Eberhardt said.
    Aldermen also agreed to accept applications from residents of the 4th District on the city’s south side to fill the spot left vacant by Biggs’ resignation.
    Applicants must be 18 years or older,  be a U.S. citizen who lives in the district and have no criminal convictions regarding a violation of the public trust, City Administrator Mark Grams said.
        Applicants must submit a cover letter and resume, he said.
    An advertisement for candidates will be run in Ozaukee Press on Sept. 21 and 28, and applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. Oct. 20, aldermen agreed. Those applying will be interviewed by the Common Council on Nov. 7, and the new alderman could be appointed that night.
    There’s always a risk that no one will apply for the seat or that the council does not find any applicant suitable for the spot, Ald. Dave Larson said.
    Gasper suggested the council set an earlier deadline and appointment date, otherwise it is almost time for people who want to run in the spring election, when Biggs’ seat is up, can begin circulating nomination papers.
    “I don’t want to be in a position where we’re appointing an incumbent who is likely to get elected in spring,” he said.
    Moving the deadline up will give potential candidates little time to apply, aldermen said.
    It’s important that the council appoint a new alderman, Ehrlich said.
    “I think we owe it to that district to get some representation for them,” he said.
    Noting that the city doesn’t have a policy for replacing an alderman who resigns, Gasper suggested the city consider setting a firm process. That could be done as the city continues its recodification process, Mayor Tom Mlada said.

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