Editorial: Does the City Council Need a Change- Up?
By Brandi Makuski
“No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it.” -John Adams
The same sentiment can be said for any elected office- and generally the higher the office, the greater the responsibility and the harsher the scrutiny. But on the local level, real effects of those responsibilities are felt immediately and directly within the city. The indoor smoking ban, approvals for races and parade routes, pay raises for city employees, tax levies- even something as seemingly minor as trick-o- treating hours: they are all decided by the City Council.
Also known as the Stevens Point Common Council, this body of 11 men and women is meant to comprise the best intentions and wishes of the Stevens Point community. These men and women- referred to as “Alderpersons” or “Council Members”- are a direct reflection of what the residents of this city want imposed in terms of government, taxes and law. It means their name and phone numbers are public information and will be published in the media; it means frequent and direct contact with local voters during the entire two-year length of their term, and perhaps even after. It means voting the way your constituents want you to: not necessarily what you personally believe.
It means doing your homework and seeking independent information to verify such claims as touted by the mayor’s office or other entities providing information. It means not being afraid to stick your neck out and ask questions if you don’t know the answer- and it means not voting until you have those answers.
For this each Council Member earns a small salary of $4800 per year.
But ask any Council Member- past or present- and they’ll tell you they aren’t doing it for the money. Each genuinely wants to be involved, and each genuinely believes they can make this community a better place to live.
Running for office is simple: according to City Clerk John Moe, candidates need to stop in to the clerk’s office to pick up nomination papers, collect a minimum of 20 signatures and return the paperwork by 5 PM on Jan. 7.
If needed, a primary will be held in February, and then the various candidate forums and debates are held before Election Day on April 1, 2014.
Five Council seats are up for election: District 2 Alderwoman Joanne Suomi; District 4 Alderman Mike Wiza; Alderman Jeremy Slowinski of District 6; Alderman Tony Patton from District 8 and District 10 Alderman Mike Phillips are all currently running unopposed.
Which of these Council Members have kept their campaign promises and represented their constituents and which have not are up to the voters. But right now, they’re the only ones in the game. City-Times staff can provide you with each alderperson’s voting record: only you can choose whether they’ve earned another chance at bat or it’s time for new blood.