Municipal Government: What it is and how to run for office
Municipal Governments are responsible for many things that can affect our daily lives. Housing, transit, the fire and police departments, and community and economic development are just a few of the areas of jurisdiction in which the City of Eau Claire governs. The City of Eau Claire has adopted the below mission statement and goals in which the city strives to contribute towards.
The Eau Claire City Council includes 11 members who each serve a three-year term, including 5 elected by district, 5 elected at large, and 1 elected City Council President. Each official elected by district represents about 13,509 people, and the City Council President represents about 67,545 people (or the whole City of Eau Claire). The City Council makes legislative decisions, determines community needs, and makes decisions about budgeting.
Instead of electing a mayor, the City of Eau Claire has decided to have the City Council select a City Manager instead. A city manager is supposed to act as a politically neutral leader who oversees departments that handle specific issue areas. Rather than having a mayor take on the role as a political leader, a city manager will work outside the political realm and ensure that city operations are running smoothly.
Another aspect of Eau Claire government includes boards, commissions, and committees. These groups are made up of non-elected citizens who advise the City Council on many areas. Some of the boards and commissions include Housing Authority, Zoning Board of Appeals, Redevelopment Authority, and many more. Click here for more information on the City of Eau Claire's boards, commissions, and committees.
The City of Altoona is governed by a mayor and a 6 member city council, who all serve a 3 year term as of 2022 (the mayor will serve a 2 year term from 2022-2024 and then start serving 3 year terms starting in April 2024). Each city council member is elected by districts, and each member represents about 1,270 people. Along with the mayor and city council, there are also boards and commissions, similar to the City of Eau Claire, which work with the government to help provide input and make decisions about different aspects of the city. Click here for more information on Altoona's boards, commissions and committees.
One way you can get involved in municipal government is to run for office yourself. In April 2022 the At Large seats of the Eau Claire City Council, Districts 1, 2, and 3 of the Altoona City Council, and Altoona Mayor are all up for election. In order to run for any of these offices you must submit the following forms by January 4th, 2022 (Eau Claire candidates must submit forms at Eau Claire City Hall and Altoona candidates must submit their forms at Altoona City Hall):
As for circulating your nomination papers, you cannot begin collecting signatures prior to December 1st, 2021. Signers must be eligible voters (they don’t need to be registered voters) who live within city limits. For Altoona City Council, the signers must live within the district in which you are running for (click here to view the revised ward maps for Altoona). Furthermore, signers are only allowed to sign one candidate's nomination papers per office.
The amount of signatures needed varies depending on the office type and the size of the city. Eau Claire is considered a second class city, while Altoona is considered a fourth class city due to population. The below graphic outlines how many signatures are needed for each type of office in the different types of towns:
Even if you are not planning to run for office, it is important to make your voice heard in government by voting in local elections. Visit myvote.wi for more information on upcoming elections, how to vote, and where to vote. You can also visit the City of Eau Claire website or the City of Altoona website for more information on elections, running for office, and voting.
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce’s ongoing series “Making a Difference: Your Voice in Government” highlights different areas of federal, state, and local government and how to get involved and make your voice heard.
City of Eau Claire
City of Altoona
City of Eau Claire revised maps (2021)
City of Altoona revised maps (2021)
Wisconsin Elections Commission
Making a Difference: Local Government video (YouTube - 60 mins)
Posted by Danya Morman, Governmental Affairs Intern
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.