City Times Staff
Candidates in tomorrow’s spring election are as varied in their beliefs as they are in number, and while most eyes may be on the mayoral race, five of the six races on the City Council could change the future of the city immeasurably.
At least three, and as many as five, aldermanic races will produce a new face on the Council, and will need to guide the city through a myriad of major financial decisions, large-scale construction projects and new ordinances.
Some of the candidates may be under-prepared for how restricted the office is. The Council has no control over minimum wage or worker’s rights, and individual members do not control city growth.
The Council leans heavily on facts and evidence presented by various department heads when making decisions. Those who serve on the hallowed body answer to their constituents- and it’s the voters who they represent.
Only about 14 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots for the February primary- with some races decided by fewer than 20 votes.
The polls open at 7 AM Tuesday.
George Doxtator, currently serving his first term, is running unopposed.
Ald. Hans Walther was elected by the Council to complete the remainder of the late Alderwoman Joanne Suomi’s term, but Walther has previous experience on the Council, having served the district prior to Suomi being elected.
Walther is being challenged by Denise Mrozek, who says she attended local schools and has two Bachelor of Science degrees in accounting and business administration. She is an employee with Sentry Insurance.
Longtime public servant Mike O’Meara is being challenged by Garrett Ryan. O’Meara, who recently retired from the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation, has brought a perspective to the Council none of the other alderpersons had; a strong background in roadway engineering and inside knowledge of state construction requirements.
Ryan is a graphic designer who has been heavily involved with the Old Main Neighborhood Association (OMNA) as well as another community project called Revisioning Point. Both are designed to engage community involvement in city improvements. Ryan has been vocal against city growth, saying it would only create more infrastructure for the city to maintain.
With Councilwoman Mary Stroik stepping down, two newcomers are running in this race; Al Rasmussen, Jr. and Bryan Van Stippen. Rasmussen has publicly stated he doesn’t seem the aldermanic spot as a partisan one, and he admits to not knowing “as much as others” do on various local issues, but he’s willing to learn before deciding on important issues.
Van Stippen, who works as a lawyer, says he would bring a working knowledge of the law to the Council. He also said he’s supportive on encouraging what he called “living wage” jobs in the city.
Soon after Councilman Roger Trzebiatowski announced he was retiring, this race also saw two new faces- Sal Cuomo and Mary Kneebone. Cuomo is new to Stevens Point politics, but Kneebone has been vocal in the past, objecting to previous projects including two new gas stations in the east side of the city. Cuomo highlights his ongoing involvement in local community organizations, to include the Boy Scouts and Elk’s Lodge, while Kneebone said she’s got experience in municipal government in Texas.
Downtown business owner Mary McComb has challenged longtime Councilman Randy Stroik. McComb supporters say she will a better representation for the community because of her vested interest downtown. Stroik supporters point to his long-time involvement in city government and vote to keep Edgewater Manor under city control.
Both candidates have said their opponent will do a good job in the seat, but Stroik said if he’s given one more term in office, he plans to step down in 2017 to focus on his family.
When Ald. Jerry Moore filed non-candidacy papers so he could run for mayor, Shaun Morrow and Jeff Presley threw their respective hats into the ring. Morrow works for the State of Wisconsin in the Division of Probation/Parole and says it’s useful experience that would benefit the Council.
Presley currently serves on the Stevens Point School Board and Portage County Board of Supervisors. He says it’s that experience that makes him the best choice.