Mayor to Appoint Wiza, Suomi to City Court Oversight
Left, Alderwoman Joanne Suomi (right) with Aldermen George Doxtator (left) and Roger Trzebiatowski (top). (City-Times photo)
By Brandi Makuski
The Stevens Point Common Council on Monday will consider granting two of its members a chance to serve on an oversight committee for the city’s new municipal court.
District 2 Alderwoman Joanne Suomi and Alderman Mike Wiza, district 4, have been appointed to the committee by Mayor Andrew Halverson. Should the Council approve the appointments, Wiza and Suomi will join Halverson, along with two officials from the Village of Plover, to determine the new court’s annual budget needs.
The oversight committee, according to the new city ordinance, will also appoint the court’s first judge who will serve until 2016 when the position will be filled by election every four years.
Halverson said Wiza and Suomi both expressed interest in serving on the committee and have experience dealing with the county’s court. Both Council Members also currently serve as Portage County Board Supervisors, though neither serve on the city’s Finance Committee.
“Joanne Suomi was always very, very interested in municipal court and a big supporter of the idea,” Halverson said. “She also did a lot of the research regarding what it (the court) would be, what it would become. She’s also very interested in a lot of the ordinance violations and forfeiture issues- mainly parking- has been a huge part of what she’s been focused on. That’s why I chose her.”
Suomi, whose district covers a large portion of the UWSP campus, has a history of reaching out to university officials and local law enforcement to discuss ideas for combating parking problems and other off-campus ordinance violations. She has also held “town hall” style meetings to hear concerns from constituents on parking issues- citations for which are among cases the new court would hear, according to the ordinance.
Mike Wiza was chosen for the committee because of his experience on the County Board, Halverson said.
“Because of his general experience with the county side, serving on the county judicial and general government committee; he’s very familiar with those kinds of topics,” he said. “He also emailed and expressed interest.”
Wiza currently serves as chairman for the county’s Judicial/General Government Committee, which oversees the Portage County Clerk of Courts Office. He said it’s this experience which gives him a unique perspective as to how the municipal court clerk would operate.
“I’m looking forward to being a part of this; I’ve thought it was a good idea for a while,” Wiza said.
Wiza said he thought having experience on the city’s Finance Committee wasn’t necessary for an appointee to the oversight committee since the budgetary recommendations would need final approval from the Stevens Point Common Council and the Village of Plover Board of Trustees.
“I don’t think it’s as big a deal there’s not someone appointed from the Finance Committee. First of all, Joanne or I could be appointed to the Finance Committee next term,” Wiza said, who along with Suomi is running unopposed for reelection in both city and county races. “It’s similar to the Police & Fire Commission: they do (approve) budget items, but they don’t have the final say on that.”
Wiza also said while the role of the oversight committee is defined under the city’s new ordinance, that role could change in the future with an ordinance amendment
“After two years we may find out we don’t even need the oversight committee,” Wiza said. “It’s all very new, so who knows.”
The Common Council meets at 6:45 PM Monday at the Lincoln Center, 1519 Water Street. The meeting is open to the public.