City seeks candidates for 5th District aldermanic seat
Poshepny says he did not intend to send resignation letter
New Berlin — Alderman Joe Poshepny listened from a wheelchair last week as the New Berlin Common Council decided that his Aug. 13 resignation that he tried to withdraw will stand. The council declared that his aldermanic seat was indeed vacant.
Any 5th District resident, including Poshepny, may now apply for appointment to serve as alderman until April, when Poshepny's term will expire. He said after the vote that he did not know if he would apply for his seat.
Because of illness, Poshepny had not been able to attend Common Council meetings since mid-May. In a letter dated Aug. 13, he resigned. But less than two weeks later, he wrote another letter saying he wanted to rescind his resignation and serve the rest of his term.
Poshepny told aldermen last week that the resignation letter was sent by mistake by his daughter, who was helping with a myriad of matters while Poshepny was gravely ill. He told the council that resigning had been discussed, but that he never wanted to resign.
His daughter wrote the letter of resignation, and he said that he must have signed it along with other papers that were placed before him. Poshepny said he has no memory of signing the resignation letter.
Most aldermen vote for vacancy
If aldermen were persuaded that the letter had been sent in error, they were free to let the matter go, City Attorney Mark Blum said. But if they believed it was not a mistake, then the resignation has to stand and the city must go through its normal procedure for filling an aldermanic vacancy.
"I would not have treated a follow alderman the way they treated me," Poshepny said after the vote, in which only Alderman William Moore voted against declaring a vacancy.
"From a human standpoint, I wish I could have left him on the council," Alderman John Hopkins, who was among those declaring the seat vacant, said after the meeting. "He had signed it and knew he signed it," Hopkins said, speculating that Poshepny may have changed his mind later.
Similarly, Alderman Ted Wysocki also said after the meeting, "His signature was on the (resignation) letter."
And he acknowledged in his later withdrawal letter that his original letter was a resignation, Wysocki said.
"I believe that in fact it was a resignation and that he knew what he was signing," he said.
But Moore had a different view.
"He said his daughter made out the letter when he was sick and thought he was not going to be able to continue as alderman. He had trust in her at the time, but he doesn't remember signing it," Moore said. "Once he understood what happened, he put in the recision letter."
Potentially coloring the aldermanic vote was doubt that Poshepny who is recuperating in a rehabilitation facility could get to meetings and adequately represent his district.
"In my estimation he couldn't," Hopkins said.
Residents haven't complained
Mayor Jack Chiovatero takes the opposite view, saying that Poshepny can fulfill most of his duties. He also said that 5th District voters are losing the seasoned representation that Poshepny offers and will be represented by someone who would have no background.
During the four months Poshepny has been ill, Chiovatero has taken care of constituent issues that have arisen, he said.
Further he said, "I received no e-mails, no phone calls, nobody came to any meetings saying they were not represented."
"I'm very disappointed in the aldermen," he said.
Moore said that any appointee would have the edge in the April election of being an incumbent if he or she wants to run five months from when the appointment would be made.
Doubting that, Hopkins said: "I don't think the person will have much advantage because he or she will not have much time to make a name for themselves."
Finally, Poshepny speculated that the council was only too glad for an opportunity to sideline him, as he has often been a dissenting voice.
"There is no truth that, whatsoever," Hopkins said.
The original Oct. 14 deadline for accepting letters of interest and resumes may be changed.
AT A GLANCE
How to apply for appointment to fill the 5th Aldermanic District vacancy:
Mail a letter of interest and resume to: City Clerk Marilyn Gauger at the New Berlin City Hall, 3805 S. Casper Drive, New Berlin, WI 53151
Interviews will be held before the Common Council
Voting for the appointment will be at the Common Council meeting following the interviews
More information: call City Hall, (262) 786-8610
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