Norton named Council President
In the wake of the recent resignation of Third District Alderman and Common Council President Ryan Schwartzman, Tuesday night the council elected 7th District Alderman Rob Norton as new council president. Norton topped First District Alderman Paul Russell by a narrow 4-3 vote. Fifth District Alderman John Van Lieshout was excused from Tuesday’s meeting.
In an email dated Sunday, August 26, Schwartzman advised Mayor Derek Woellner of his resignation being effective immediately; citing personal reasons.’
I am resigning from my elected position of Third District Alderman, effective immediately, due to personal issues. It has been both a privilege and a pleasure serving my district and the City of Merrill. I want to thank everyone both elected and appointed for helping me make Merrill the best that it can be. I wish the best to you, Mayor Woellner and the City Council going forward.”
Schwartzman first took the city’s Third District seat in 2010; defeating incumbent Ray Bloomer 152-72. He stood unopposed for the seat until this past April when he was challenged by Eric Ott. Schwartzman would prevail in the Spring General Election 104-63.
Norton has held the 7th District seat since 2012 unopposed, with the exception of 2016 when he defeated Challenger Ray Bloomer 245-116. Norton will remain council president through the next aldermanic election cycle in April 2020.
As for filling the vacant third district seat, Woellner recommended the appointment of Eric Ott Tuesday night.
Woellner cited the relatively narrow margin of the final vote count in April, as well as Ott’s nomination papers containing 23 signatures, as basis for his recommendation.
However due to lack of a motion in support of the recommendation by the council, the recommendation failed. The council would move to ultimately approve an application process through September 28 for interested parties to express interest in the position. A Committee of the Whole meeting has been scheduled prior to the Common Council meeting on October 9, to select Schwartzman’s third district successor.
The council did not make a decision Tuesday on the term of the third district appointee. They will have the option for their selection to fill the seat until the April 2019 election, or remain through the aldermanic election cycle in April 2020.
“I have no problem with Eric Ott being considered in this process,” Russell stated during discussion on the matter. “He did earn a lot of votes in his district. That’s meaningful and valuable in a democracy. But competition is good.”