Field of Mayoral Candidates Growing
By Brandi Makuski
With the midterm elections still visible in the rearview, several candidates have stepped forward to announce their intentions to run for Mayor of Stevens Point.
Beginning Dec. 1 the position will be temporarily filled by interim Mayor Gary Wescott, who will serve out the remainder of Mayor Andrew Halverson’s term through April 20. Halverson is leaving office early for employment in the private sector.
The Confirmed Candidates So Far
At press time on Thursday, there were four confirmed candidates- two with municipal government experience. Alderman Jerry Moore was the first to announce his candidacy last week, followed by fellow Council Member Mike Wiza.
Moore is currently the longest-consecutive serving alderman, having been elected to the Common Council in 2000. He has previously served on numerous committees and also served as Council President. He currently serves on the Personnel Committee and the City Plan Commission, and previously had chaired the Finance Committee. Moore typically has voted in favor of fiscal conservancy regarding city issues and often cites feedback from his District 11 constituents.
Moore is the co-owner of Heritage Pub in downtown Stevens Point.
Mike Wiza has served on the City Council since 2004 and has twice run for mayor unsuccessfully against Andrew Halverson. Wiza, who is employed at Skyward in Stevens Point, is widely known as one of the more vocal members of the Council, and often cites third party sources, as well as constituent feedback, when addressing the Council.
Moore and Wiza both admit to often having a similar stance on city issues, and both have recently stated their largest difference is that of personality.
Alderman Tony Patton has taken out candidacy papers but as of Thursday would not confirm his intentions to run, though in past weeks he has taken a noticeably stronger approach to chairing the city’s Finance Committee.
Council meeting mainstay Barb Jacob also confirmed her candidacy this week. Jacob is a landlord and owner of Big Hunchies Road House in south Stevens Point. She currently serves as citizen member of the city’s Deer Management Committee and is active in local issues.
Jacob is a long-time proponent of community involvement in local government and often addresses the Council on a variety of issues. She was also instrumental in fundraising efforts for new playground equipment at Veteran’s Memorial Park, which is adjacent to her business on Division Street South.
Alex Kochanowski, who is currently serving his first term on the Stevens Point School Board, also confirmed this week he was seeking the office. Kochanowski previously volunteered for the city’s policy auxiliary unit, but has since resigned. He currently works for the city’s transit department.
Kochanowski has been a strong advocate of the “no superintendent” option for school district government, and argued against recusing himself from sitting on the district’s employee negotiating team after news of his own union membership came to light.
He currently is hosting a series of public gatherings at the Portage Co. Library to hear feedback from constituents on matters relating to the school district.
What Happens Now
Additional candidates could still come forward, making it likely a primary election will occur in February. Candidates can begin circulating their candidacy paperwork for pubic signatures on Dec. 1 and must be returned by Jan. 6, 2015.
The spring election is April 7, 2015.