Ballot box

EAU CLAIRE — Three Eau Claire City Council members will face challengers in their bids for re-election this spring.

Three contenders submitted the necessary paperwork to City Hall by the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline to get their names on the April 6 ballot for the council’s district seats.

Among them is Gabriel Schlieve, a full-time UW-Eau Claire student and disability rights advocate, who has family history in local government.

“I’ve had political experience pretty much my entire life because I lived with my grandparents,” he said.

His late grandparents, Jean M. and Jean F. Schlieve, had each served as supervisors on the Eau Claire County Board.

Gabriel Schlieve said disability advocacy would be his main focus if elected, but he’s also noticed other ways Eau Claire could improve life for everyone in the community as well.

“I feel there are a lot of smaller issues that have been overlooked, and that’s what I want to try and fix if I can,” he said.

Gabriel Schlieve is running against 5th District incumbent Andrew Werthmann, who has been on the council for almost a dozen years.

Werthmann first came the city in 2001 to attend UW-Eau Claire and now runs his own consulting business focused on federal environmental policy. He also champions those issues on the local level.

“I put environmental issues front and center — thinking about the climate crisis and our response to it,” he said.

Werthmann was a founder of a city commission focused on sustainability issues, but also cited his support for downtown revitalization and affordable housing as other efforts he’s proud of.

The district that Werthmann and Gabriel Schlieve are competing for covers downtown Eau Claire, as well as nearby residential areas including the Randall Park neighborhood.

In his bid for a second term representing 3rd District, incumbent Jeremy Gragert will face off against newcomer Josh Stanley.

A native of the area who had relocated to South Carolina, Stanley moved his family back to Eau Claire this past summer to be closer to relatives.

Previously a firefighter and now working as a professional house painter, he emailed the Leader-Telegram about issues he’s campaigning on.

“I’m running because I want us as a city to be always be transparent in how we handle our finances, and how we can help small businesses stay open amid this pandemic,” Stanley wrote. “These are some of the reasons I’m running for City Council.”

A Minnesota native, Gragert first came to Eau Claire in 2000 to get his bachelor’s degree from UW-Eau Claire. A resident of the 3rd Ward neighborhood for 11 years now, he says it’s important for the city to listen to neighborhood associations and he regularly attends their meetings.

“That’s something I’ve taken pretty seriously as representing a district on the council,” he said.

Gragert also successfully fought for reduced bus fare prices for low-income residents and supported the establishment of public input sessions during Monday night council meetings where people can bring new issues to officials’ attention.

All five district seats on the council are on April’s ballot. The council also has a president and five at-large seats, but those won’t be up for election until coming years.

A challenger who ran in the crowded field of hopefuls seeking at-large seats on the council in 2019 is coming back with his sights set on a district centered on Eau Claire’s south side.

Kyle Woodman filed papers to run for the 2nd District seat currently held by Emily Anderson, who is seeking a second term. Woodman came in 10th out of 10 people who ran in the April 2019 election for the council’s five at-large seats.

Initially it appeared Councilwoman Jill Christopherson would face a challenger in her bid for re-election to the 4th District seat, but that did not come to pass. Fellow west side resident Robert Haddeman had submitted a declaration of candidacy, but did not submit other forms necessary to appear on the ballot — including signatures of at least 20 other residents of the district.

Councilwoman Emily Berge, who is finishing her first term representing Eau Claire’s north side, did not have a challenger file papers for the 1st District seat.

Other cities

Incumbents in city council seats representing parts of Altoona, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie will not have challengers on ballots this spring.

In Altoona, only current council members Matthew Biren, Tim Sexton and Susan Rowe had filed the necessary forms to run in April, according to City Clerk Cindy Bauer.

Chippewa Falls Mayor Greg Hoffman and Councilmen John Monarski and Jason Hiess aren’t facing competition for re-election. Incumbents CW King and Paul Olson both decided not to run. Christopher Gilliam and Hayden Frey, respectively, were the only ones to file to run in their spots.

For the six district seats on Menomonie City Council in April’s election, only five candidates have emerged. Incumbents Jeff Luther, Eric Sutherland, Nathan Merrill, Chad Schlough and Randy Sommerfeld all are seeking re-election to their seats. No one filed papers for the 5th Ward seat, which has been vacant since Councilwoman Faith Bullock resigned in March.

Leader-Telegram reporter Chris Vetter contributed to this article.

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