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District 8 Open Alderman Seat Heads to Special Election | Ozaukee County News | News graphic

MEQUON — The politics of Mequon-Thiensville School Board’s recall election last fall spilled over into the consideration of a new District 8 Councilman on Tuesday, as accusations of partisan politics flew by on both sides.

But at least several aldermen had no patience for it and said he would have no place in the city.

“I want it to be very, very, very clear. Matters pertaining to the Mequon-Thiensville School District must never enter these common council chambers,” Alderman Brian Parrish said, adding that it appeared some people thought it was actually a consideration for the position. .

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With council members failing to secure the majority needed to decide whether to appoint Bill Gebhardt or Nancy Urbani to the vacant seat, they ultimately voted 6 to 1 to hold a special election. The date has not yet been chosen, but should be in January.

At the start of the meeting, Mayor Andrew Nerbun, whose vacant district seat had to be filled after his election as mayor in April, recused himself from any eventual deciding vote because Urbani is a longtime friend, who served as a Cub Scout leader with him and helped him in many of his election campaigns.

Nerbun said his role in the process was believed to make it “a bit more political”.

“If it is to be politicized on either side,” he said. “I’m not going to play.”

Several of the public speakers were about to call Nerbun about it and thanked him for his decision not to vote.

Nerbun voted for Urbani at last week’s full committee meeting, which is made up of the same members as the joint council but can only recommend action to the council.

Nerbun said it’s not because Urban is a friend, but because he thinks she’s the best qualified. He noted that she had attended the last eight or more council meetings as well as the town’s one-day strategic planning meeting.

“She’s up to it and ready to hit the ground running,” Nerbun said.

But Nerbun added that he had a nice chat with Gebhardt last weekend and left confident he was up to the job.

Bill Gerhard

There was no recommendation last week from the full committee, however, as they lacked the five votes needed to nominate either candidate. Urbani got four votes and Gebhardt three.

Gebhardt is a third-generation Mequonian who grew up in District 8 and bought a house with his wife just down the street from his childhood home, he told the COW last week.

He is president and CEO of Corporate Group, Inc., where he spends most of his day planning strategically, building high-performing teams, and putting in place appropriate plans and budgets, he said. told the committee. He said his target issues were public safety, education, future development, communication and fair representation.


Nancy Urbani

Urbani, a former data analyst, has lived in Mequon for more than 12 years and said she first became involved with the city when she advocated for Mequon to retain ownership of the property adjacent to the center -city of Mequon.

From there, Urbani got involved with the Park Board, Girl Scouts, Donges Bay Elementary School PTO, MT Recreation Department, MOMS Club of Mequon and more.

But many public speakers on Tuesday focused on Urbani’s involvement with the Coalition to Support MTSD, a group Urbani co-founded to support the four school board candidates who were recalled l ‘last year. All four members ultimately retained their seats after a special election on November 2.

Some asked the aldermen who voted for Urbani in the full committee to explain their votes.

Two of the speakers on Tuesday were recall organizers Amber Schroeder and Scarlett Johnson, with Johnson standing as one of the recall candidates.

Johnson pointed to numerous examples of Urbani’s comments made to the media and on social media that show Urbani holds highly partisan beliefs, including posting about reparations for African Americans, supporting the Black Lives Movement Matter and calling for tax increases.

She said Urbani had posted on social media that any hint of activism that could be considered partisan should automatically disqualify a person from any nonpartisan public office.

“It’s a high bar that they set and it’s now been torn just as one of their own local election candidates is,” Johnson said.

But several spoke on behalf of Urbani, including former mayor Dan Abendroth and his wife, Bridget King, who said the Coalition to Support the MTSD is not a political action committee and that as soon as the recall election was over, Urbani left the coalition.

“Nancy Urbani is the most skilled and invested in this community, in terms of her volunteer service over the years and her consistent attendance at council meetings,” King said.

When it came time for aldermen to weigh in, several were adamant that a special election was needed to allow residents to decide, while others said voters in District 8 deserved to be represented. immediately.

Alderman Mark Gierl, who last week expressed anger over social media posts that he said Urbani had the attacker, said he helped District 8 residents ask questions about lakefront access to their property and that he would be happy to answer any calls in the meantime. special election.

Alderman Rob Strzelczyk said he did not feel comfortable picking a winner or loser and initially said he would abstain from voting. But several other aldermen said it was his job to make tough decisions, including on budget matters, ongoing strategic plan discussions and more.

Alderman Dale Mayr said he was “appalled” by Strzelczyk’s comments and said the only way for a civil servant to recuse himself is if there is a conflict of interest.

“I think it’s our duty to get a vote through,” he said.

City Clerk Caroline Fochs said it would cost the city about $6,500 to hold a special election, which is higher than normal because they don’t share a ballot — and costs — with the district. school, county or other government agency.

Strzelczyk later said he was not avoiding a tough decision, but did not believe the remaining aldermen were the right ones to make it.

“I’m not sure the seven of us can make a better decision than the 3,000 people in District 8,” he said. “I will vote one way or the other. I always support throwing it at people.

He echoed Parrish’s comments about keeping politics out of city government.

“Let’s keep partisan politics out of Mequon. It is done. It’s old,” he said.

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