Four newcomers will be sworn in to represent the City of Rhinelander when the Common Council holds its post-election organizational meeting.
According to unofficial results posted on the Oneida County website Monday evening, candidates Carrie Mikalauski, Gerald Anderson and Eileen Daniel have been elected to the Common Council. Tom Barnett, running unopposed in District 1, will be the fourth newcomer to join the council following the April 3 election.
Mikalauski defeated Lee Emmer by a count of 102 votes to 53 for the District 3 seat while Anderson outpolled Wil Losch by a tally of 187 votes to 113 for the District 5 seat. Finally, Eileen Daniel defeated former alderman Bill Freudenberg 116 votes to 62 for the District 7 seat.
Of note, three of the four new alderpersons were members of the inaugural class of the Future Rhinelander Academy, an initiative spearheaded by Mayor Chris Frederickson and city administrator Daniel Guild.
In a 2019 post on the City Hall Facebook page, the Future Rhinelander Academy was described as "a customized curriculum with resources from the League of Wisconsin Municipalities to educate and train folks who have an interest in serving on a Board, Committee, or Commission of the City, or perhaps even running for local government office someday. These individuals will be taking part in eight sessions, the first of which was entitled, 'Local Government 101,' and included a 90 minute overview of the structures and types of local governments in Wisconsin. We are looking for to seeing the additional contributions these individuals make in our community with their additional education and training through the seminar."
The River News asked Frederickson for a reaction to the election results as well as the success rate of Future Rhinelander Academy participants, however he did not respond to our message prior to press time.
The newspaper also asked all of the winning candidates to comment on the election results. The three newly elected council members who participated in the Future Rhinelander Academy were also asked to reflect on that experience as well as assure their constituents that their interactions with Guild as part of their participation in the academy will not color their decision-making process when and if they are asked to vote on questions related to his future with the city.
(Guild has been on paid administrative leave since March 13, three days after Oneida County district attorney Mike Schiek charged him with one felony count of misconduct in office related to allegations he withheld certain records requested by this newspaper and altered an official email. Last week, his defense team filed a motion to dismiss the case. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for June 11, according to online court records)
Mikalauski sent this response to our query.
"First, I would like to thank the citizens of District 3 for voting for me. I truly appreciate all the support throughout this unusual campaign season with all of the social distancing. I'm looking forward to getting to work for the City of Rhinelander. I'm excited to work as a team with the other council members to get things done. I plan to listen and take in all the facts in order to make decisions based on those facts. I encourage all of my constituents to contact me directly should they have any concerns they would like to discuss."
Daniel, who will succeed Steve Sauer as the representative of District 7, sent this statement.
"I am incredibly honored and humbled to have been elected Alderperson for District 7. I am looking forward to working with the other members of the Rhinelander City Council to move Rhinelander forward. I will fairly review all issues which come before council and make decisions that are in the best interest of our community, based on facts and data. My constituents, and all citizens of Rhinelander and the outlying communities, are invited to contact me at any time to discuss any of their concerns."
After eight years in office, Sauer chose not to run for another term.
In District 5, Anderson will succeed alderperson Dawn Rog who also chose not to seek re-election.
In his statement, Anderson noted he plans to ask a lot of questions as he adjusts to elected office.
"I'd like to thank everyone who voted, and I'm looking forward to getting to know and work with all the people on the Council, new and old," he said. "I'll be asking lots of questions initially to find out how things got the way they are, not with the goal of affixing blame but so that we can figure out how best to move forward together. The pandemic may slow things down for a while, but we'll overcome it and move on. Rhinelander is a city with so many possibilities, some well-developed, many not. I'll be listening to as many people as possible for ideas and support."
Losch was gracious in defeat.
"I ran because District 5 needed a reasoned, independent voice that put ideas and policy first. Mr. Anderson wants the same," he wrote in a statement to the River News. "I congratulate him on the work he has done campaigning and earning the opportunity to serve in elected office. His background will help residents navigate the health and economic impact of Coronavirus, in fighting for clean city water, and running sound local government."
Barnett, who will fill the District 1 seat vacated by outgoing council chairman George Kirby, who did not run for re-election, sent this response.
"I am very eager to serve the city with honesty and responsibility," he wrote. "My interest in being on City Council is to help move this city forward in a positive direction filled with hope for a brand new future. We have an amazing community filled with people that are looking at the positive future ahead with great anticipation, myself included. I am eager to get to work with my fellow Alderperson's to reach that future for our city. For any decisions that need to be voted on will be done with integrity and honesty, based on factual evidence. I am confident that the City Council will be open and honest about future decisions that will influence how this city functions and how it moves forward. There are many important issues facing the city that require the city council's consideration that will need prudence and candor in those decisions."
The city has yet to announce a date for the council's organizational meeting.
Oneida County races
In races for Oneida County board of supervisors, the big surprise was the upset of incumbent Robb Jensen, who lost to Robert Thome 54 percent to 46 percent in District 11.
In other races, supervisor Jack Sorensen kept his seat with a narrow 52-48 percent win over Rhody Jakusz in District 9, while Jim Winkler defeated Bob Metropulos 53-47 percent to keep his seat in District 10.
In the other contested race pitting two registered write-ins against each other in District 18, supervisor Lance Krolczyk kept his seat, winning with 56 percent of the vote over former supervisor Candy Sorensen.
Rhinelander school board
In the Rhinelander school board race, the voters chose Mike Roberts, Duane Frey and Merlin Van Buren to represent them. Incumbent Ben Roskoskey was the lowest vote-getter in the four-person race for three seats. The vote totals were: Roberts 2,355, Frey 2,344, Van Buren 1,901 and Roskoskey 1,648.
Posted: Friday, April 17, 2020
Article comment by:
My question is why are you insinuating that because three of the newly elected alderman won because of attending the Future Rhinelander Academy? That makes it sound like they somehow won just because of that and not because the taxpayers voted them in.Very poor reporting and uncalled for to even mention Mr. Guilds status. This has no place in this article. It takes away all the work three of the alderman put into campaigning that they did and their desire to serve on city council in such a turbulent time. It shows that publication will sneak in anything about Mr. Guild while reporting on city government.
The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC 232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361
Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121 Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce