Monday, January 4, 2016

What you may not know: Week of January 4

I hope everyone had a safe, happy, relaxing holiday season. Just as many of you are heading back to work today for the first full week of 2016, the Appleton Common Council is also getting back into the swing of things on Wednesday night at 7 pm with our first scheduled council meeting of the new year. The agenda is relatively light but includes a pair of items I'll be following:

County Highway JJ redesign

Back in early December I wrote about a pair of proposals to redesign the portion of County Highway JJ between Ballard Road and Lightning Drive in an effort to respond to increased traffic (and expected further traffic increases) in the area and safety issues created by the North High School exit directly across from the Kwik Trip entrance.

On December 8 the Municipal Services Committee discussed the pair of proposed options for this redesign but elected not to approve either of them, instead asking for staff to bring back additional options for consideration. I agree with their decision but it's worth noting that this comes with a cost: On Wednesday both the committee (at a special 6:30 meeting) and council will be asked to approve a $24,000 contract amendment for OMNNI Associates to analyze three additional possibilities.

Assuming this amendment passes, the options would be presented at a future Muni Services meeting, likely their scheduled meeting on January 26. I'm sure I'll have more updates on this project as we proceed.

District 8 vacancy

At our last full council meeting in December we opted to delay action related to the newly vacated seat on the council from the city's eighth district. We have the option to appoint a new alderperson to fill the remainder of Polly Dalton's term, which expires in April, but the current election window complicates matters a bit.

Candidates have until Tuesday at 5 pm to file papers to appear on the ballot for the spring election, and last I had heard three candidates had expressed some interest in running for this position. By Wednesday night we'll know how many of them acquired the necessary petition signatures, and if this will be a contested race.

As I've written previously, I think it's a bad practice for council to appoint someone to represent a district where none of us reside. The results of Tuesday's filing deadline will likely determine how we handle this:

  • If more than one candidate has filed to run for this seat, then it's my personal opinion that council has an obligation to stay out of that race and let the voters decide. Appointing one of those candidates would be an implied endorsement of that candidate in the spring election, which I feel is unfair to everyone involved.
  • If only one candidate has filed, then I personally will still oppose appointing them to the seat for the reasons I mentioned above but I suspect council will move on despite my objections. This is what happened when Ms. Dalton was appointed to the seat roughly two years ago.
You can see agendas for all of this week's meetings and the full schedule at the city's Legistar page.

Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as an alderman. Good governance happens in the open, and I remain committed to raising awareness on the issues coming before us.

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