The Waunakee Board of Education could change its election cycles next year, due to a recommendation made by one of the board’s longest-standing members.
Clerk Julie Waner has served on the Board of Education for more than a decade.
Now approaching the end of her fourth term, she has proposed that the school board redefine the election cycle for one of its three Village of Waunakee seats.
“There are currently three Board of Education seats which are specifically reserved for people who live in the Village of Waunakee,” Waner said. “For whatever reason, two of the Village of Waunakee seats appear on the same three-year cycle.”
The existing format has resulted in fewer elections for Village of Waunakee seats, she explained. Instead of three separate elections – one for each seat – two have taken place on a triennial basis.
Consequently, potential candidates have been unable to run for school board some years.
“In 2021 there are zero seats available,” Waner said. “If someone doesn’t run this year, they have to wait another two years – if they live in the Village of Waunakee – in order to have an opportunity to fill one of those seats.”
To rectify the situation, Waner has suggested that the three Village of Waunakee seats be evenly staggered. Then one of the seats would become available and be up for election each year.
“That was my original goal in wanting to shuffle it,” Waner said. “It has nothing to do with the current people in office or trying to upset any of that. It’s just making the process so that, every single year, if someone from the Village of Waunakee wanted to run, they would be able to.”
In order to accomplish that goal, though, an upcoming term would need to be reduced.
“On the cycle where two candidates run,” Waner said, “whoever got the second-most votes would just get a two-year term as opposed to a three-year term. And then their seat would become available in the year that their term expires.”
Waner brought the idea to superintendent Randy Guttenberg earlier this summer. He informed her that such a change would need to be considered at the district’s annual meeting in October.
Adding it to that agenda would require a petition signed by 500 residents of the district.
“It needs to come through a petition of the public,” Waner said. “You have to gather signatures, just to get it on the agenda. The board itself cannot decide to place it on the agenda. We got that update in September.”
However, the notice came too late for board members to collect the required signatures in time. To have the motion placed on this year’s agenda, they would have had two weeks to meet quota.
“Anybody can gather signatures,” Waner said. “But they would need to be gathered by the end of September, in order to get it on the agenda for the end-of-October meeting. So we didn’t have enough of a timeframe.”
The board could take up the issue as early as next year’s annual meeting, however.
“The election that it would affect isn’t coming up until 2022,” Waner said. “We have two more annual meetings to get it on the agenda in order for it to become effective.”
Waner said she looks forward to hearing from constituents about the proposal.