by Brandi Makuski City- Times Editor
Mayor Halverson has already appointed a Special Committee to cover the potential structures for the creation and handling of two city positions- those of city attorney and comptroller/treasurer- he would like to see become appointed, rather than elected.
In a memo passed out to council members and press corps only moments prior to the start of Monday’s common council meeting, Halverson defended his decision to create the committee he has charged with sorting out the details.
“I feel the best way to move forward on this matter is to have a special committee that will look at potential ways that they appointment to these positions can happen,” Halverson said.
Alderpersons Moore, Wiza, O’Meara, Suomi and Council President Stroik were all appointed to- and accepted- a spot on the committee. Halverson said he purposely chose two members in favor of the move and two whom did not vocally support the measure to ensure a balance.
Wiza said while he opposed the measure in its entirety, he would actively seek information on the experiences of communities comparable to Stevens Point that have used the appointment method.
“I’m not convinced the [proposed] appointments are for the best, but I am open to conversation,” he said, accepting his position on the council under the conditions that “this committee would not figure out a way to make it happen, but that the common council would approve to take it to a referendum, and the citizens chose to make it appointed.”
Alderman Logan Beveridge agreed discussion was necessary, but also pointed it the special committee didn’t necessarily have to act in time for the November election- something the mayor has been pushing for.
“I don’t believe the creation of this committee creates undue time constraints; but it doesn’t mean we have to wait two and a half years to have this discussion. I think it’s a step in the right direction,”Beveridge said.
One week ago, the mayor insisted the potential appointment topic was “only being discussed at this point”, but some residents believe it’s now being fast- tracked.
“This is a very acceptable concept; one I’ve been bringing up for years,” said Reid Rocheleau of Whiting.
“At the same token, it’s a very unacceptable timeline. There’s just not enough time to do the proper job of looking into this matter,” he said, adding he feels the mayor broached the topic “at the eleventh hour”.
Stevens Point resident Barb Jacob also said she was disappointed in the lack of notice given to community members, who she said had no time to research the topic before speaking to the council.
“That’s the problem with a lot of our committees; they’re filled with people the mayor wants to appoint,” said Jacob.
“And there’s never been anything on the [city] website about this,” she added.
Jacob, who frequently attends city meetings, volunteered to become a citizen member of the special committee.
“I think you guys need some from- I’ll just say it- the ‘lower echelon’, the average Joe, and not just somebody that’s handpicked,” she said.
“You’re going to have to convince people it’s necessary to change this, and I don’t think you can do it in a month.”