Kochanowski Takes Leave From City Job to Campaign
City Times Staff
City leaders have approved a leave of absence for Alex Kochanowski from his job in the city’s transit department- a request he says he made so could he can continue campaigning for Mayor of Stevens Point.
Kochanowski came before the city’s Personnel Committee last week to make the request in person, which was the only item on Thursday’s agenda.
Kochanowski initially sent his request in writing on Dec. 18 following concerns voiced at the City Council just days before. Alderman Tony Patton- who himself is a candidate for mayor- told the Council in open session he’d heard complaints that a current city employee was campaigning during working hours, which is prohibited under the city’s administrative policy.
While Patton did not disclose the employee’s name, Kochanowski was one of two city employees who had announced they were seeking an elected office at that time. Pam Kruzicki, who works in the city’s utilities department had also announced she was running for re-election as clerk/treasurer for the Town of Alban.
In an email to City Clerk John Moe, Kochanowski pointed out some aldermen- to include Patton- had the opportunity to announce their own mayoral campaigns during Council meetings, which are argued was inappropriate.
“The business conducted at the city council meeting is the work of the city council and they are clearly taking advantage of the opportunity to campaign during these meetings, to vast numbers of the public [sic],” the email said in part. “Concerning Patton’s allegations, as far as I know, I have never initiated any interaction that could be constructed as campaigning. When patrons initiate a conversation, I am friendly and respond. I have never used my position to ‘campaign’ like these aldermen clearly have.”
Kochanowski’s email went on to say his leave of absence request was made to “protect myself, my fellow employees, and transit management from being accused of violating city policy in the future.”
City Attorney Andrew Beveridge said aldermen are not considered city employees and, like any citizen, can comment on any non-agenda item during the public comment period of a Council meeting.
Kochanowski also serves on the Stevens Point School Board, having first been elected last April. It was not immediately known if he would seek a leave from that position as well.