Because more than 10 candidates filed to run for the five At-Large Seats on the Eau Claire City Council, a primary election will be held on Tuesday, February 19. This election will reduce the number of candidates in the general election—which is on April 2 and will determine who fills the council’s five at-large seats—from 12 to 10.
At-large representatives are unique because they represent not only one district of Eau Claire but the entire city. So if you live in Eau Claire, this election will affect you, regardless of which district you live in.
It has been an entire decade since a primary was needed for City Council, so voting in this race will be especially important in determining the direction of our local policies. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on February 19, and we have provided some information about voting and the candidates below.
Good Government Council Questionnaire
The Good Government Council (GGC) is a committee of the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce dedicated to encouraging voter participation and providing members of the business community with non-biased information about candidates’ positions on important issues. Although the Chamber is active in policy issues, it is non-partisan and does not endorse political candidates.
Here are the answers from candidates from those running in the February 19 Primary:
2019 At-Large Eau Claire City Council Candidate Questionnaire
See below for more information about the election and how to vote:
You can register on election day at your polling place, which you can find here. Once you are registered, you will need to present a valid form of identification to vote. You can find information about those valid forms here.
Election Day, February 19
Polls will be open across the City from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. As always, you will need a valid for of ID to vote. For information about those valid forms, see above. Once again, you can find your local polling place here.
In-Person Early Voting (beginning Tuesday, February 5)
In-person absentee voting begins on the Tuesday two weeks before the election (February 5). You can vote on week days from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the fire station behind City Hall. That address is 216 S Dewey St. For more information about voting, visit Eau Claire’s elections page.
Here is a list of all twelve candidates who will appear on the ballot in February:
Kate Beaton (i)
Catherine Emmanuelle (i)
Of these candidates, only two are incumbents: Catherine Emmanuel and Kate Beaton. Emmanuelle has served on the Council for six years; Beaton, for three. Emmanuelle is a UW-Eau Claire graduate, earning degrees in women’s studies and economics. She also has two Master’s degrees from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. As a member of the Council, she has advocated women’s issues. Most notably, she led the effort to change an internal rule disallowing Council members from bringing children with them to meetings.
For her part, Kate Beaton is also a UW-Eau Claire graduate. In 2014, she completed a degree in social work with a minor in environmental science. To her, the largest issues facing Eau Claire (and the world) are climate change and irresponsible energy use. As a result, she has spent much of her time on the Council developing and promoting a local carbon-neutrality plan, which puts Eau Claire on a path toward becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
Of the nonincumbents, a few names might be familiar. David Klinkhammer is a former member of the Council, whose 11-year tenure came to an end after losing to Emily Anderson for the District 2 seat last year. Like the incumbents, Klinkhammer is a graduate of UW-Eau Claire, and he believes that adequate funding for scholarships and education are the surest ways of boosting the employment rate and economy of the area.
Also running is Echo Rearden, who faced off against Jodi Emerson in the 91st District’s Assembly race in November. Reardon grew up in Illinois and worked on her family’s farm before running a small printing business for seven years. Among other things, she has promoted the need for a safe and business-friendly community.
Dale Poynter, a Chamber member, will also appear on the ballot. Before coming to Eau Claire, Dale taught design courses at the University of Illinois. Today, he owns a small business named SDS Architects, which is located in downtown Eau Claire. If elected, he has said he will strive to achieve fiscal responsibility, moral clarity, and minimally involved government.
Another candidate is Laura Benjamin. Benjamin is a local small-business owner who has served as the president of her company, Satellite Six LLC, for 8 years. In that role, she has had to balance the demands of a budget with the price and quality of services. Her business has been part of the Chamber for six years, employing as many as 10 people at a time. For Eau Claire to continue to prosper, Benjamin believes we must ensure that small businesses are supported throughout the city, that wages and job opportunities continue to improve, and that Eau Claire remains a highly diverse and equality-minded place.
As a long-time member of the community, John Lor has thrown his hat in the ring, too. Access to affordable housing serves as one of John's top priorities. If we make housing more affordable for more people, he reasons, communities will form and the city will become a safer place to live, work, and raise children.
Chandler Lorentz’s name will be on the ballot as well. For the past six years, he has worked in retail, which, he says, has given him the opportunity to gauge the issues that are most important to the community. Lorentz has also written that he will work to increase the operation of public transit, clean up Half-Moon Lake, and decrease the poverty rate through cooperation with local shelters.
Kate Martin, a 15-year Chippewa Valley resident, has stressed the importance of responsible spending. To her, it is crucial that the Council invest taxpayer money to keep the city both safe and clean. She also wants to establish a core budget, which, she says, would support the people and departments that make our city great.
Don Motzing is another Chippewa Valley resident seeking a spot on the Council. Motzing has a diverse employment background, working for Fortune 100 companies and local businesses alike. He believes that his experience as an owner of student housing makes him uniquely qualified to serve. There, he has learned that a Council must remove unnecessary barriers for ambitious businesses and owners to thrive.
An Eau Claire native, longtime construction worker, and proud business owner, Kyle Woodman also believes he has the experience and vision the Council needs. Currently, he and his wife own a local in-home care company for elderly and disabled Chippewa Valley residents. But through all his roles, he has developed a strong connection with the community, and that, he claims, has driven him to run for City Council.
Kirk Ausman has served as president of two neighborhood associations, chairman of the Eau Claire Housing Advisory Board, and president of the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council. On top of those things, he also owns a business. He is running because he would like to continue to serve the people of Eau Claire. He has promoted building projects as a means of increasing access to affordable housing.
To give voters the opportunity to hear from these candidates directly, the Chamber and its media partners will be hosting a forum, where we will invite all candidates to come share their message with and answer questions. After the forum, attendees will have the opportunity to speak with the candidates in a meet & greet session. Valley Media Works will record the forum and post a video on their website, so if you are unable to attend, you can still take advantage of this opportunity. Here are some specific details about the event:
At-Large City Council Candidate Forum and Meet & Greet
Thursday, March 21, 6:30 p.m. - Postponed from the original date of Feb 7 due to weather
CVTC Business Education Center, 620 Clairemont Ave., Commons Area
Presented by the Leader-Telegram, WQOW TV 18, Wisconsin Public Radio, Valley Media Works and the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce
Posted by Nate Kane, Legislative Intern