Trustees as election inspectors debated in Paddock Lake

Whether it is appropriate for elected village trustees to also serve as election inspectors was debated by the Paddock Lake Village Board Wednesday night.

The typically routine approval of a list of election inspectors for next year was the occasion for the discussion. That list included the names of Trustees Karen Harris and Chris Bucko. The list is submitted by the village clerk.

Before the vote, Trustee Pat Warner said she had polled by phone several other county municipalities to see what their practice is in having elected officials also oversee elections. Among the municipalities she said she received information from were Kenosha, Bristol, and Silver Lake. All of them said they would not allow an elected official to also be an election inspector, she said.

Acknowledging that some trustees have served as election inspectors in the past, Warner said “I’m not accusing anyone” of wrong doing.

Warner was not alone in her concern however. Village President Marlene Goodson said “I feel uncomfortable with it, but that’s my personal feeling.”

Harris explained that she did not feel there was a problem with her election official role while she was a trustee because it has been the practice in Paddock Lake that elected officials did not serve as election inspectors when village offices were on the ballot. Harris also has filed non-candidacy papers for the spring election, so she will not be on the April ballot.

Trustee Joe Riesselmann said he did not see a problem with trustees also being election inspectors as long as they avoided conflicts of interest.

Asked for a legal opinion, village attorney Jeff Davisson said elected officials as election inspectors is not specifically prohibited by law. He added that he did not see an ethical problem as long as individuals did not act as election inspectors in elections in which they or a close family member had a stake, such as being on the ballot.

During a recess of the meeting in order to change recording media, Davisson went on to point out during casual conversation with the board that in smaller communities there are only so many people willing to serve as election inspectors, so some who are also elected officials may be more common.

Ultimately the list of election inspectors was approved as submitted with Warner voting no and Harris abstaining because she was on the  list. Trustees Jake Hansen and Bucko were absent.


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