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Gridlock continues as Mequon officials fail to fill alderman vacancy

Common Council falls short of five-vote majority in naming 1st District representative

June 12, 2013

Mequon — The 1st District aldermanic seat remains vacant after the Common Council on Tuesday, repeating the results of its Committee of the Whole meeting May 29, failed to select a candidate by the required five-vote majority.

The one vote the council took Tuesday reflected the three votes taken by the committee, a 4-3 gridlock. Aldermen Ken Zganjar of District 2, John Leszczynski of District 4, John Hawkins of District 6 and Andrew Nerbun of District 7 voted for Robert Strzelcyzk, who garnered 47 percent of the vote in the April election but lost out to Dan Abendroth — who turned down the spot when he unseated Mayor Curt Gielow.

Aldermen Dale Mayr of District 3, Mark Seider of District 5 and Pam Adams of District 8 voted for attorney Robert Holtz, who is representing his and eight other families in the suit between the city and River Club of Mequon owner Tom Weickardt.

Nerbun, Zganjar, Hawkins, and Leszczynski all endorsed Strzelcyzk vocally before the vote. Nerbun said, unlike popular opinion suggests, Strzelcyzk isn't a "Curt Gielow devotee.... I think we're getting an independent thinker." Zganjar, Hawkins and Leszczynski all called on Strzelcyzk's near successful campaign against Abendroth as reason to appoint him.

Strzelcyzk 'more unbiased'

"I think Mr. Strzelcyzk earned this appointment," Leszczynski said, "and will be more unbiased in matters relating to the River Club, the Nines, and the matters relating to development of the 42 acres."

Leszczynski, whose brother, David, was the developer behind Weickardt's plan to build housing in Ville Du Parc, has recused himself in the past when the subject has come before the council.

While Adams, Mayr and Seider didn't weigh in before the vote, several community members did.

"Some have said it would be tragic if the seat remains vacant," said longtime alderman Bob Ashmore, who held a key role in Abendroth's successful bid for mayor, "but the man who represented District 1 for 26 years isn't deceased. He's the mayor now. The residents of District 1 remain free to approach him today as they have done for almost thirty years."

Ashmore, like several others who addressed the council, said it wouldn't be right to appoint someone whom the electorate rejected in the recent election.

"We did not select (Strzelcyzk) to represent us," said Carol Hagemeier, a Holtz supporter who is represented by him in the suit with Weickardt. "I am deeply disappointed you may think it's in the city's best interest to overrule our decision in district one."

Residents can call mayor

After the 4-3 vote, Abendroth quickly moved the council on to the next agenda item, saying that the matter can be revisited.

"If people are going to vote 4-3 every time, we're not going to get anywhere," Abendroth said after the meeting. "I think they have their reasons, the two sides."

He added that, though he doesn't vote on the council, he can listen to District 1 residents and share their opinions with the council.

"People can always call me up," Abendroth said.

Strzelcyzk after the meeting simply said: "It's disappointing."

Of the potential conflict of interest regarding the River Club, Holtz said he'll cross that bridge if, and when, he comes to it.

"I'll make the right decision then," he said, "whatever the right decision is."

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