While many Americans may still feel burned out from the November presidential election, this is a critical time in our democratic process. It may be surprising, but spring elections are right around the corner! Now that the deadline has passed for turning in nomination signatures, the upcoming Spring 2017 election in Fort Atkinson is shaping up to be an interesting one.
All three incumbent city council members are running again: Paul Kotz, Davin Lescohier, and myself. There are also two newcomers to the race: Tangee Dunn and Don Bladorn.
I get asked often about details of how a city council election works. The exact process can vary by city, but here is a breakdown of how things work in Fort Atkinson:
- All five city council seats are “at large” seats. This means that each council member represents the entire city. This contrasts with cities that may have council or aldermanic “districts” which usually consist of a large neighborhood area.
- All terms are two year terms. Three council seats are elected one year, two council seats are elected the next year.
- We do not have term limits.
- To get on the ballot, a candidate needs to only be a current resident of Fort Atkinson, 18 or older. They need to secure a minimum of 100 signatures from qualified electors (ie. legal residents of the City of Fort Atkinson), along with filing some other basic paperwork with the city clerk.
- There can be a primary held in February to winnow down the amount of candidates on a given April ballot. This typically only happens if there are more than two candidates for each seat on the ballot. However, it is not mandatory to hold a primary in such an event. It is at the discretion of the the city clerk.
I am glad we will again have a contested election this year, for the third year in a row. I believe it’s important for voters to have a choice. This also encourages active participation from local residents. This can be in the form of anything from researching the candidates, to reading newspaper articles, or attending a candidate forum. The Fort Atkinson candidate forum is typically held in late March, and includes city council, school board, and judicial candidates.
If you wish to check your voting status ahead of the election, you can do so by clicking this logo:
Hopefully the information here is helpful. Wherever you live, I would encourage you to research local candidates, and remember to vote on April 4, 2017. Local elected officials have a big impact on your community and your quality of life.