Ruling upholds decision by city clerk
STAR JOURNAL REPORT
The Wisconsin Elections Commission has upheld a decision by Rhinelander city clerk Val Foley to deny Chris Frederickson a spot on the ballot in this spring’s election for mayor.
Frederickson, a respiratory therapist and youth sports coach in the Rhinelander area who hasn’t previously held elective office, and another candidate for mayor, former alderman Scott Counter, were both denied a spot on the ballot by Foley after a third candidate for mayor, alderman Alex Young, filed objections to the candidacy papers of Frederickson and Counter.
Young had alleged many of their nomination papers were invalid because of a provision in state law related to individual signatures not being able to be counted if the signatures are dated after the date of certification contained in the certificate of the person circulating the papers. As a result, Frederickson and Counter were determined by Foley to have fewer than the minimum number of 50 valid signatures to be placed on the ballot.
The nomination papers had a filing deadline of Jan. 2. Young filed a verified complaint Jan. 5 about the papers Frederickson and Counter submitted. Foley said the correcting affidavits Frederickson submitted Jan. 8 needed to be filed by Jan. 5, three days after the deadline to file nomination papers, while Counter didn’t submit correcting affidavits. Frederickson then filed an appeal to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
In upholding the decision by Foley to deny Frederickson a spot on the ballot, a letter to Frederickson dated Feb. 12 from Elections Commission chairman Mark Thomsen said Foley “did not abuse her discretion in reaching the decision that Mr. Frederickson’s nomination papers were insufficient when filed and were not corrected in a timely manner through an affidavit.”
“While Mr. Frederickson could have filed correcting affidavits from the time he filed his nomination papers (Jan. 2, 2018) through Jan. 5, 2018, he failed to do so,” Thomsen said. “The affidavits he did file were part of his challenge response, and therefore the dispositive issue is whether the correcting affidavits were sufficient to rebut the allegations made in Mr. Young’s challenge – not update information contained on his original nomination papers.”
In response to the commission’s ruling, Young said, “Election laws exist for a reason and they should be upheld.”
“The decision of the Elections Commission was entirely based on following the law, and as the decision notes, ‘this distinction is important and is not a mere technical parsing,'” Young said. “I am pleased that we have a resolution to this matter and that the commission’s decision upholds well established law.”
Though Frederickson could appeal the commission’s decision within 30 days to circuit court, he said he will instead be running as a write-in candidate for the April 3 spring general election, for which Young would be the only candidate on the ballot for Rhinelander mayor.
Dick Johns, who has been Rhinelander’s mayor since 2005, has decided not to seek another four-year term.
The commission’s ruling to deny Frederickson a spot on the ballot can be found here.