It’ll be Lewis vs. Kincaid for council presidency
by Tom Giffey
Whether or not a referendum about the Confluence Project is on the April 1 ballot in Eau Claire, the issue will be voted on that day – indirectly, at least. Eau Claire City Council President Kerry Kincaid, a supporter of the project, faces a challenge for the presidency from first-term Councilwoman Monica Lewis, one of three council members who voted against city funding for the downtown performing arts development. Kincaid has been council president since 2009, and was re-elected, unopposed, in 2012. Lewis, president and owner of Archer Lion, a building supply firm, was elected to an at-large seat on the 10-member council last April.
While they disagree on public funding for Confluence Project, Lewis and Kincaid also are split on the need for a public referendum to approve such spending. “Just because we got elected didn’t mean we got more intelligent” than other citizens, Lewis said at a council meeting in October. For her part, Kincaid said in October that “A referendum is a very blunt instrument. It’s not a very good way to express feeling about a complicated item.” Supporters of a referendum collected more than enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot, but the City Council still must give a go-ahead for the vote – a decision that could hinge on a forthcoming legal opinion on whether the referendum is valid.
The Kincaid-Lewis match-up will be the only one on the city ballot; none of the other 10 council seats are up for election this year. Meanwhile, only two candidates – incumbent Trish Cummins and newcomer Charles Vue – filed nomination papers to run for two seats on the Eau Claire school board, making both of them shoo-ins (barring a write-in campaign, of course).