The city of Lake Geneva is currently taking applications to fill the council seat vacated by Allen Kupsik in the 2nd District Alderman position.
The city council has the responsibility to fill that vacancy. It can call for a special election or it can appoint someone on its own, which is what the city council normally does. However, having the city council select its own members just does not seem right. The only control residents have over city government is the alderman whom they elect to represent them, but when the city council appoints members for them, then the city council deprives residents of that control over city government. It takes a majority of the city council members to select a replacement, and it is therefore only logical that the person, the majority of alderpersons might select, will likely have similar views to those already in the majority. This kind of action will serve to increase that majority view and control of the city council. Since incumbents win reelection 90% of the time, the city council, by majority appointment, will almost assure that appointee’s reelection, thus the city council, by its own selection will have legally (but unduly) influenced the future aldermanic election. This just does not seem right. Regardless of the cost of a special election, it should be held to fill the vacant position, but the city council has already decided that a special election will not be held. They will do it their way and take the 2nd District’s ability to choose who represents them away. This situation of filling a vacant alderman seat has occurred before with devastating results that still affect who will run for, or even volunteer to serve as an alderman in Lake Geneva.
In the spring of 2009 Alderman Gary Dunham ran for reelection and won. Then shortly after being sworn in, he resigned from his just re-elected alderman position. This set off a multi-year local political battle that made the front page of the New York Times. The story behind what occurred is that (supposedly) Gary had run for re-election with the intent and understanding that he would resign and that then Mayor Chesen would appoint his friend Shepstone to fill that term. However, the city council, not the mayor, is to appoint the replacement, and when four members of the city council were about to select someone else, the wrath of Mayor Chesen (worst mayor ever to grace city hall) was released on those four members of the city council. He (standing down from mayor to act as a citizen) accused them of an open meeting violation. Then, going back to being mayor, he suspended them, making the City Council unable to hold a meeting because there was no quorum. The costly legal battle that ensued has tainted all aldermanic elections in the City of Lake Geneva since then by effectively eliminating opposition candidates. It has been alleged, and apparently remains true, that the reason the aldermen did not receive legal defense from the city that they were entitled to receive was because Mayor Chesen had coverage blocked by allowing no notification to the city’s insurance company. In any case when it was completely settled, the affair cost the four alderpersons $12,000 each in legal fees. Why bring this political wound back from the past? Well, the whole story has not been told, nor is it over, because those behind some of the subtle maneuvers back then appear to be involved with decisions being made on this issue of alderperson selection today.
April showers bring May flowers, road construction, and signs that read “Detour“, and “Road Closed.” Two of Lake Geneva’s main arteries will be closed for the foreseeable future. South Lake Shore, between South Street and South Knolls, is getting a new water main. This project is expected to take a month or more. East Main Street is getting a third lane between Wells and Curtis. What the purpose of this project is, and how Lake Geneva will benefit from a third lane, nobody really knows. What is known is that this project is expected to take several months to complete, so be prepared for delays and plan alternate routes. This project will also cause heavier traffic on the 120 by-pass (Edwards Boulevard), and on Highway 50, West of Lake Geneva. Be safe and don’t forget to buckle up.