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Political free-for-all looms in Lisbon: 4 of 5 spots on board could be on spring ballot

Four of five Town Board seats likely at stake in 2013 elections

Nov. 28, 2012

Town of Lisbon - The possibility of a political free-for-all looms in Lisbon for the 2013 municipal elections as five nonincumbent candidates - some of them familiar names in the community - have expressed an interest in sitting on the Town Board.

The five residents submitted applications to be considered by the Town Board for appointment to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former Supervisor Dan Fischer earlier this year.

The applicants included former Supervisor Wendy Landry, former Treasurer Becky Plotecher, Plan Commission member Steve Panten, and Gerald Meissner and Hanna Heinritz.

During the Monday, Nov. 19, Town Board meeting Town Chairman Matt Gehrke and Supervisor Joe Osterman called for a special election to fill the Fischer vacancy rather than the board appointing one of the five candidates.

Gehrke said he had considered the board appointing someone to fill the vacancy but is opting for the special election because of the number of qualified candidates seeking the appointment.

Osterman added that an election was "the purest way" to fill the vacancy.

Supervisor Ryan Lippert, however, said he would prefer the board appoint someone to fill the vacancy.

He said if the vacancy is not filled, the board runs the risk of having only three members, the minimum for a meeting quorum, during the early months of 2013.

Supervisor Dan Heier said he may have to resign from the board sooner than he had anticipated because of plans to move out of state. Heier's term expires in 2013, and he is not seeking re-election.

A resolution calling for the special election to be held at the same time as the regularly scheduled municipal elections on April 9, with a Feb. 20 primary election if necessary, will be presented to the Town Board at the Dec. 10 meeting.

If the resolution is approved, four of the five seats on the Town Board will be at stake in next year's municipal elections. Candidates for Town Board positions can begin circulating candidacy petitions next week.

Gehrke has announced he is seeking re-election as town chairman. So far, he has no challengers.

Osterman is also expected to seek re-election.

Heier's seat will be at stake in the regular municipal election, and the remaining year on Fischer's term will be at stake in the special election.

Gehrke said he anticipated that some of the individuals who applied for the appointment would seek election to fill the Fischer vacancy.

Any one of those individuals could also challenge Gehrke or Osterman's re-election or seek election to the vacant two-year term.

Landry has been one of the leaders in the effort to have town's government status upgrade from town to village. She was also of five Town Board members swept out office during the early and mid 2000s after controversy surrounding the development and later abolition of a town police department.

Plotecher served as town treasurer from 1998 until her retirement earlier this year.

Panten made two unsuccessful bids for election to the Town Board before he was appointed to the Plan Commission

Meissner is a member of a prominent town farm family

Heinritz was instrumental in persuading the town to adopt more liberal ordinances pertaining to the raising of chicken and other livestock on nonagricultural lands.

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