City decides to hold February primary for District 9 candidates
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — City officials have decided that there will be a February primary after much debate on the matter.
While there exists no ordinance that demands a February primary if more than two qualified candidates run for the same seat, there will be as such in the case for District 9. On Feb. 19, Incumbent Mary McComb will run against her 2017 challenger Polly Dalton, and newcomer Brian Beaulieu. The two with the most votes will advance to the General Elections in April.
According to some on council, a primary may put extra pressure on said candidates since they would be essentially running two campaigns in a short amount of time.
When it comes to the extra cost for a primary, City Clerk Paul Piotrowski estimates that the cost would be approximately $600 for the district, as the costs would be shared with the Feb. 19 School Board primaries already set to take place.
Sixth District Alder Jeremy Slowisnki favors the primary, as in his opinion, the majority should rule in cases of selecting an election official.
“All three of these candidates are going to be in the same position – it’s not like one person is getting an unfair advantage over the other,” said Slowinski. “I want to emphasize that to be fair to our constituents I honestly believe that the ninth district alderperson needs to be voted in by the majority of the people — not by 34 percent.”
However, this is assuming that the votes would be closely split between all three candidates. It’s not impossible for the majority of a district to elect an official in a three-way race.
According to Piotorowski, he estimated that approximately 100-150 per district usually show up to vote in primaries, and checking his numbers, he’s not far off.
In the 2017 spring primary, 164 voters took to the booths from District 9. In comparison, 316 voted in District 9 in the April 2017 general election — a number which nearly doubles the voter turnout.
For District 3 Alder Cindy Nebel, it comes down voter turnout.
“More people in general would be out voting, and knowing about voting if it was just done in April and not having a special election,” said Nebel. “That way, you might get more people out to vote.”
“If only a hundred people show up, how is that a better representation of the district?” said District 1 Alderperson Tori Jennings, in a question posed to Slowisnki and Phillips.
With Oberstadt and Morrow absent, council members voted in favor 5-3. Jennings, Nebel, and Shorr voted “no”. Kneebone, Johnson, Phillips, Slowinski, and Dugan voted “yes.”
McComb abstained from voting.