And they’re off: Filing for elections starts Tuesday

Published 8:28 am Monday, May 17, 2010

Though many argue that election season in American politics is 365 days long, Tuesday is still an important starting point of sorts in Mower County and Austin.

The day marks the beginning of filing periods in the city and county, which is when those interested in running for local offices, as well as state offices, can throw their names in the hat. The filing periods run until June 1.

Filing typically occurs later in the summer, but with the state deciding to move primaries up to Aug. 10 from the traditional September, local governments have had to adjust.

Doug Groh, the Mower County auditor-treasurer, said the filing period now opens when his office is busy working with property tax returns.

He also said he expects a low turnout at the primaries on the new Aug. 10 date. That’s during the week of the Mower County Fair, and Groh said many people could also be gone on vacation at the time.

Overall, the bumped-up process will mean a longer campaign season — Groh said candidates can start posting signs in late June.

“It’s going to make for a long summer both for the voter and the campaigner,” Groh said. “I think they’ll probably be sick of it by the time November rolls around.”

Whether sick of politics already or not, below is a rundown of all offices up for election Nov. 2, both in the city and the county, as well as details on the incumbents. It should be noted that those interested in filing for city offices should go to City Hall, while those interested in county offices should head to the Mower County Government Center.

Also, it costs $25 to file for city offices; on the county side, filing for commissioner costs $50, while filing for a Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor post costs $20. Filing to run for a state Legislature opening costs $100.

City offices

From May 18 to June 1, citizens interested in running for any of the following positions can file in town.

City:

Mayor

1st Ward council member

2nd Ward council member

3rd Ward council member

Council member at large

Austin Utilities board (two openings)

County:

Auditor-Treasurer

Recorder

Sheriff

Attorney

Commissioner District 3

Commissioner District 4

Commissioner District 5

Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor District 3

Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor District 4

The most noteworthy position opening up is mayor, which happens every two years, although a proposed change to the city’s charter could make it a four-year term soon.

Tom Stiehm, a retired Austin police officer, currently holds the post, and he has said he plans on running for a third term.

To date, the only announced challenger is Marian Clennon, who is currently a city councilwoman in the Third Ward. In 2008, Stiehm received two challengers, one of whom was eliminated in a primary. In the general election, he narrowly edged out local business owner Mark Nagle.

Four council seats are also going to be on the ballot. That includes an opening in each of the city’s three wards, as well as the at-large spot. Of the four, the at-large spot, which is currently held by Janet Anderson, is the only with a two-year term. Anderson has said she plans on running for re-election.

The other three seats are all four-year terms, which are staggered with three other council members representing the same wards who are up for election in 2012. This year, Jeff Austin in the 1st Ward, Dick Pacholl in the second and John Martin in the third are all ending their terms. Austin said he is “undecided” about running again at this point, while Pacholl said he is “leaning” toward running. Martin did not return a call for comment on this story.

In addition to the openings on City Council, two, four-year Austin Utilities board positions are open. The incumbents in those spots are Ron Felten and Jeanne Sheehan.

County offices

Nine county positions, including county attorney, sheriff and recorder, will be on the ballot this fall.

County attorney Kristen Nelsen plans to run for her second full term. Groh also plans to seek re-election.

Sheriff Terese Amazi is planning to run for Mower County Sheriff. She already has competition, as Sgt. Jeff Ellis announced his plans to run two weeks ago.

After more than a decade as recorder, Sue Davis is not running for re-election as she plans to retire this December. However, Jill Cordes already announced her intentions to succeed her boss. Cordes has served as chief deputy recorder since Davis has been recorder.

Three county commissioner positions are up for election. Less than a year after winning a special election, Mike Ankeny will have to run again to retain the 5th District Seat. Dick Lang stated he plans to run for his third term in the 4th District. David Hillier plans to run for his fifth term as commissioner in the 3rd District.

Two Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor seats are up for election. John Grass Jr. is up for re-election in District 3, and William Lonergan Jr. is up for re-election in District 4. Both plan to seek re-election.