Council Candidate Roundup

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth

A host of hopefuls has completed the first leg of the quest to join the Eau Claire City Council.

As of Jan. 2 – the deadline for would-be council members to file their nomination paperwork – 10 candidates emerged for five at-large council seats. Two of them are incumbents: Mark Olson, 58, who was first elected in 2010, and Catherine Emmanuelle, 32, who was appointed to the council in September. Olson is a retired Eau Claire firefighter, while Emmanuelle describes herself as a civic engagement coach and community volunteer.

The other eight individuals on the April 2 ballot will be Eric Getten, 45, a community manager for Walgreens; Luke Hoppe, 22, a shift manager at Erbert & Gerbert’s Sandwich Shop (and a contributor to this magazine); Steven Judd, 42, who oversees deferred prosecution agreements in the Eau Claire County district attorney’s office; Eric Larsen, 53, a retired deputy chief of police and owner of a private investigation business; Monica Lewis, 57, owner of Archer Lion, a building supply company; Dave Strobel, 54, owner of Strobel Insurance Agency; Michael Turner, 33, a mail and food service truck driver for the Eau Claire school district who has previously run unsuccessfully for state Assembly and Eau Claire County sheriff; and Michael Moua Xiong, 42, a social work case manager for Eau Claire County.

Because three incumbent council members – Larry Balow, Jackie Pavelski and Thomas Vue – won’t be seeking re-election, at least three of these newcomers will join the council.

To the uninitiated, the make-up of the Eau Claire City Council can be confusing. Here’s a quick primer: The council is divided between five at-large seats (these candidates can be from anywhere in the city and all eligible voters in the city can cast ballots for them) and five district seats (these candidates only seek the votes of those who reside in the same aldermanic districts). A separately elected council president brings the total number of council members to 11. This year residents elect the at-large members; last spring, they elected members for district seats; and next year, they will vote for council president. All council members serve three-year terms. (Hey, we said it could be confusing.)

Ten candidates may seem like a lot, but it isn’t quite enough to trigger a primary on Feb. 19. That means the April 2 general election will be a free-for-all, with each voter able to vote for as many as five of the 10 contenders. 

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