An Eau Claire city councilwoman submitted her resignation, stepping down from her seat to focus more on her family and business.
Laura Benjamin, who was elected in April, sent a letter Tuesday to city leaders announcing that she is stepping down immediately from her seat on the council.
“Changes in my life situations have forced me to consider reprioritizing,” Benjamin wrote in her resignation letter, which she posted Wednesday morning on her Facebook page. “Therefore, at this time I respectfully step down from my City Council role so I can better focus my time and energy to meet those priorities.”
Finding that her business and children needed more of her time prompted her to decide to give up her seat on council.
“It was clear my business and family needed more of my attention than I could give them,” Benjamin said.
She is president of local marketing firm Satellite Six, and has a 13-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.
Council President Terry Weld said he understands the decision Benjamin made in weighing the time commitment of being an elected official versus raising a family and running a growing business.
“Certainly our families come first and making sure we have that time available,” Weld said.
He added that Benjamin will surely be missed as he and others on council enjoyed having her there and respect the contributions she made.
Benjamin thanked the people of the city who elected her along with leaders at City Hall who gave her support and assistance as a new councilwoman.
“It has been an incredible honor and joy to serve with my council colleagues and represent the people of our city,” Benjamin wrote.
Her resignation letter did mention some of the issues she campaigned on in the spring election and indicated that she intends to remain active in the community.
“I look forward to continuing to work toward goals of business development, fostering entrepreneurship and supporting equality as a member of this amazing community,” she wrote.
A newcomer to city politics, Benjamin won election in last spring’s 10-person race for five at-large council seats that represent the entire city.
Benjamin secured her spot on the council with a fourth-place finish, garnering support from 5,394 city voters. Winning election also made history in Eau Claire as she is the city’s first transgender council member.
With a sigh, Benjamin said it’s been “a wild year” between her business, family life and council work.
Shortly after winning election, two key employees left Satellite Six for other career opportunities at a time when the business got more business from a client. More recently, Benjamin had been absent from work and several council meetings due to a monthlong bout of pneumonia.
Finding herself stretched thin between all her commitments, Benjamin said resigning from council is the right decision.
To fill the vacancy left by Benjamin’s departure, the City Council will weigh its options on Dec. 10 — its last scheduled meeting for 2019.
Weld said the council will decide between seeking applicants and making an appointment for the position or holding a special election.
One option would be to hold an election for Benjamin’s seat on April 7 — the spring election where the council president is on the ballot. Should the city go that route, it would be for the two years remaining on Benjamin’s three-year term.