Monday, January 07, 2013

Write-in candidates for Common Council: Lazy, careless, opportunistic, all of the above, or something else?

Each year around this time, it’s the same thing. People have approximately one month to announce their candidacy for local elected office; then get the required number of signatures in order to get their name on the ballot. And each year it’s the same thing where someone takes out nomination papers for an office, but fails to return them on time. This year is a little different.

There are three seats open on the Oshkosh Common Council (besides that of mayor) and only two people submitted the paperwork and signatures required to get their name on the ballot: Incumbents Tom Pech, Jr. and Deb Allison-Aasby. Good for them. They did what they were supposed to do. But here’s this year’s twist.

Because there remains one open seat, we now have two Johnny-come-latelys – Brian Poeschl and Don Binder – who originally took out papers, didn’t fulfill the requirements for getting on the ballot and now seem to be opportunistic - hoping to slide into a seat somewhat by default. So that they can campaign and accept donations, Poeschl and Binder have both officially registered as write-in candidates for the Common Council. And unfair as it seems, it stands to reason that with an open seat, one of them will gain a position on the Council.

Poeschl explained to me that there was a problem with the signature pages collected by a friend of his and when the error was called to his attention, he tried to reach the person but couldn’t do so in time to correct the errors in the hour or so remaining before the 5pm deadline. Those pages of signatures were disallowed, leaving him with less than the 200 signatures he needed. He said he had the same problem with the papers he circulated for himself, but at least he was able to correct those errors in time. Why did Mr. Poeschl not look over his paperwork before going down to City Hall? And why did he wait until the last day to file the paperwork? Having run for office in the past, he certainly knows how the forms are supposed to be filled out. And he knows if there are signature problems, those signatures get tossed. The papers are relatively easy to understand and if there are any questions, the city and county clerks and their staffs are very helpful in explaining things. What Mr. Binder’s excuse is for his failure to meet the requirements for getting on the ballot, I do not know. I’m also not sure it’s all that important to me at this point.

I wonder if other people were running for this Council seat we would see these two registered write-in candidates. I suspect not. There may be a good reason to run as a write-in candidate, though I cannot think of one right off-hand. In this particular case, it just seems these two men either weren’t careful enough to properly do the paperwork; or not motivated or interested enough to get the paperwork returned on time; and now seeing an open, uncontested seat, are trying for a quick grab. Seems like the careless, or lazy man’s approach to me and I’m just not sure I can accept that in someone who wants to be responsible for millions of dollars in taxpayer money. One good thing about their tardiness: They won’t be on the ballot. I would also hope that they won’t be rewarded by being asked to participate in candidate forums, etc. Those are things that should be reserved for the people who filled out the paperwork properly and got it submitted in time.  If you want to have the job, you should do the work, and do it properly, to get the job; not rely on opportunism.


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