Prairie du Chien alderman race still remains undetermined
By Correne Martin
Who will take the Prairie du Chien Common Council seat in the first aldermanic district remains to be seen, according to the April 1 election results reported late Tuesday night. Write-ins Ron Leys and Mark Oehler received two votes apiece in the first ward.
According to rule, the eligible person who receives the highest number of write-in votes in a vacant district is declared the winner after the Board of Canvassers meets and confirms the election. If that person declines the position, the vacancy goes to the common council to be filled.
However, that rule hasn’t exactly given city officials a clear-cut answer on how to proceed. Prairie du Chien City Clerk Barb Elvert conferred with the Government Accountability Board Wednesday morning for clarification on the city’s next step.
In addition to the 2-2 tie between Leys and Oehler in the first district, Elvert said there is still one outstanding absentee ballot in that district that has until 4 p.m. Friday to arrive at City Hall, though it must be postmarked April 1. Elvert said, if that absentee ballot was cast for Leys or Oehler, it would determine the winner. If the vote is for one of the other individuals who received one write-in vote Tuesday, a three-way tie is also possible.
“There’s a lot of gray area. We consulted the Government Accountability Board so we are sure we’re doing the right thing,” Elvert stated.
Following the canvassing meeting Monday, April 7, at 8:30 a.m., Elvert said, if the vote remains tied, 2-2, the names of Leys and Oehler will be put into a hat, and the person whose name is drawn will be declared the winner. That person will be offered the position and, if he accepts, will be elected for a two-year term. If he declines, the council will then appoint someone to the position.
But that isn’t all. Because there were five citizens who received one write-in each, any of them has three days after the canvassing to ask for a recount.
It’s important to note that Leys filed a declaration of non-candidacy prior to the election. He was seeking election to the Crawford County Board of Supervisors in the first district and won that bid in Tuesday’s election.
In the third ward for common council, eight votes were cast for write-in Kyle Kozelka, and three votes were written in for Keith Coburn. Kozelka, an incumbent who filed a declaration of non-candidacy prior to the election, has been declared the winner. Kozelka talked Wednesday morning about his intentions now that the votes are in.
He said he was still uncertain about what he would do, but his early feeling was to stay on the council. His house is currently up for sale and he said he will probably stay on the council until it is sold
Kozelka was victorious in his bid for a seat on the Prairie du Chien School Board, but did not win election to the county board seat he was also seeking.
**In the only contested common council race, incumbent Karen Solomon was re-elected to the fourth aldermanic district. She received 59 votes from her constituents, taking the seat over declared write-in candidate Daniel Jones.
**The remainder of the council ballot involved uncontested races with only the incumbents running. Mayor Dave Hemmer received 463 votes, while there were 13 write-ins for the mayoral seat. Municipal Court Judge Dan Key netted 438 votes, and there were three write-ins. In the second district, Mike Jones collected 82 votes. In the fifth district, Jean Titlbach garnered 74 votes. In the sixth district, Todd Myers received 94 votes.
According to Elvert, voter turnout was a mere 19.96 percent in the city of Prairie du Chien Tuesday.