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Jeffreys approved as Green Bay city clerk

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – The Green Bay city council approved the appointment of Celestine Jeffreys as the new city clerk at its meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Jeffreys served as chief of staff for both Mayor Eric Genrich and former Mayor Jim Schmitt.

Jeffreys was appointed to serve in the position by Genrich after the former clerk and deputy clerk resigned following the November election.

Celestine Jeffreys

The decision came after a near hour-long closed session and several comments of support from community members.

Jeffreys’ appointment was approved unanimously, minus District 12 Alder Jesse Brunette, who abstained.

“I have a lot of professional respect for Celestine. I’ve said so publicly, and privately,” Brunette said. “She’s served the city well. The testimony of everyone who spoke speaks very highly of her character. I have absolutely no issue with Celestine. But in regards to why I am abstaining from the vote, I will say ‘no comment.’”

Alders also approved the hiring of Neil Stechschulte as the city’s new director of community and economic development.

Stechschulte will fill the vacancy left by Kevin Vonck when he left for a job in Virginia in August.

Cheryl Renier-Wigg served as interim director since then.

Stechschulte comes to Green Bay from Sun Prairie, and is set to start in February.

The council also approved the appointment of five members – Cristina Ortiz, Isaac Kabacinski, Michael Vinson, Dan Terrio and Alder Veronica Corpus-Dax – to the equal rights commission.

The commission is just one aspect of the equal rights ordinance the board adopted last fall.

Other highlights

Alders approved the continuation of a trial period of fat tire biking at He-Nis-Ra Park until May 15 to give the parks department more time for research.

With the lack of snowfall so far this winter, not much fat tire biking, which is predominately a winter sport, has happened in the park this year.

No permanent or hard-to-reverse changes are to be made to the existing trail, vegetation and animal habitats during the trial period.

Alders also directed department staff to look into other possibilities for fat tire biking on the city’s west side.

Staff will update the Park Committee each month between now and May.

Council gave staff the go-ahead to research a request from Alder Barbara Dorff regarding a possible change to term lengths of alders from two years to three years, eliminating the possibility of ever having the entire council being eliminated all at the same time.

The topic was advanced to the full council from the Protection and Policy Committee to gauge interest.

“Before I asked staff to move forward with this, I wanted to see if there was interest from city council in having this investigated as we know our law department is very busy,” Dorff said. “I didn’t want to ask them to do something else when I wasn’t sure where the council was at.”

Not all alders were fully onboard.

“This idea that we don’t want a full turnover of the council at one time, we can still accomplish that with keeping a two-year term,” Brunette said. “Basically just having six council members up for reelection one year, and six the next year. That will allow, if people are really unhappy with us, unhappy with the job we are doing, unhappy with the direction of the city, every single year it’s potential that they can change the direction of their city government. I think that keeps us accountable. Look at the school board – a three-year term right now – there are a lot of people that are very unhappy with the school board, and to think that they have to go on with another few years with some representatives they may not be happy with. I think that is a consideration as well.”

Ultimately, alders voted to refer the item to staff for research purposes.

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