Clerk appointment objected by Green Bay alder
By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – At its Tuesday, May 5, virtual meeting, the Green Bay Common Council appointed city officials, with some discussion about city clerk Kris Teske.
In unanimous votes, Russ Schwandt (assessor), Vanessa Chavez (city attorney), Diana Ellenbecker (comptroller), Pam Manley (treasurer), Dan Ditscheit (director of parks, recreation and forestry), Steven Grenier (director of public works) and Kevin Vonck (director of community and economic development) were all approved.
The lone discussion came with Teske.
District 8 Alder Chris Wery called the spring election a failure.
“On April 7, 2020, the citizens of Green Bay experienced a major election failure,” he said. “I believe the most important function (of the city clerk) is to oversee elections. The Wisconsin Elections Administrator, Meagan Wolfe, even commented during one of their meetings that the state had 1,850 elections run smoothly, with obvious failures in Milwaukee and Green Bay. In my opinion, with the research I’ve done, multiple poor decisions destroyed any chance at an equitable election for the citizens of Green Bay.”
Some citizens waited in line at the two polling places – Green Bay East and West high schools – for hours and others never received their absentee voter ballots.
“Under the circumstances, I think our clerk did a valiant job,” said District 7 Alder Randy Scannell. “I can see where some people might disagree with some of the decisions made by the clerk or the mayor, but I see zero evidence of any wrongdoing, negligence or incompetence on anyone’s part. Pointing the finger is the wrong thing to do. We were the only state in the Union to have an in-person election, and it shouldn’t have happened.”
District 1 Alder Barbara Dorff also showed support for Teske.
“I’d like to reflect on the years of elections that have successfully been held in Green Bay because of the quality Kris Teske brings to her position,” she said. “Clerk Teske went above and beyond to ensure the safety of the poll workers. She had to make some tough decisions and was not given some information in a timely matter. She has shown she’s an excellent clerk, and then came the pandemic. No one could have made that into a perfect election.”
Wery spoke for a second time.
“Citizens hate the lack of accountability from government officials,” he said. “Just because someone is liked, that has nothing to do with things. I want this recorded, because people who didn’t get to vote or waited a long time, they know who’s on their side and who’s not.”
Scannell rebuked Wery’s comments.
“That’s terrible,” he said. “There’s no way you can construe the comments I made as being against the citizens who didn’t get to vote. It wasn’t OK some people didn’t get to vote, but to say if we vote for Kris Teske, then people know we don’t have their back is absurd. I take objection to that.”
Wery was the lone alder who voted “no” for appointing Teske as clerk.