STEVENS POINT — Officials are looking for a new District 6 City Council representative.
On October 6, the position officially became vacant when City Council member Ron Carlson tendered his resignation. Carlson was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“I’m sorry to disappoint people that I can’t fulfill my role. It’s not that I want to quit,” Carlson said. “I want to focus on defeating this cancer.”
Carlson was elected last April for a two-year term that was due to end in 2024.
He said he applied for the position because he felt the need to not only serve, but to bring the council and community together. He said the Business 51 project had divided the community.
“I think it brought attention to the fact that people need to be more involved and know what’s going on in the community,” Carlson said.
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Carlson has spent his life serving the community, including 32 years with the Stevens Point Police Department. He retired as Deputy Chief in 2012. After his retirement, he worked at Justiceworks, a restorative justice non-profit organization for five years and also served on the Stevens Point Police and Fire Commission.
“He would give the shirt off his back to anyone,” Stevens Point Mayor Mike Wiza said. “Ron’s service is something he takes very seriously.”
On Monday evening, Stevens Point City Council voted to appoint someone in his place until the April 2023 election. The appointed official would serve until 2024, when he would be eligible to run in the general election for the post of district 6.
The cost of adding a councilman from District 6 on the April 2023 ballot will be $200, Wiza said.
The council also had the option of calling a special election or leaving the office vacant until the next election cycle. A special election would cost $2,000.
District 10 Representative Keely Fishler emphasized the importance of District 6 having a voice on the board.
“I just think they shouldn’t go without representation,” she told the meeting when discussing whether the board would appoint a replacement. “And then they can choose in April.”
Individuals interested in nomination to District 6 must be at least 18 years of age, have no unpardoned felony convictions, and reside in the district. They must submit a cover letter stating the reasons for their interest as well as a resume to the Registrar’s office.
Wiza said he hopes to have nominations within the next three weeks, so the candidates can appear before the city council at its regular November 21 meeting.
There has already been interest in the position, Wiza said. Carlson said his daughter, Sara Berna, is considering taking his place.
“I’m glad they’re appointing someone,” Carlson said, “but ultimately the voters should decide.”