Wisconsin Rapids mayoral race sees twice the usual number of can - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Wisconsin Rapids mayoral race sees twice the usual number of candidates

WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW)--An area community is set to pick its next leader in an unconventional way. The ballot will have four candidates instead of two. 

It's the race for the Wisconsin Rapids mayor. Some city leaders say they were wrong for not voting for a February primary. Now, with the election just days away, voters will have more choices on the ballot than they're used to.

"Had we known, we should have made it an amendment to that motion and said if we had more than three, we should probably have a primary, but we didn't do that," Marion Hokamp, Wisconsin Rapids city council member said.

Months ago, Hokamp voted against having a primary. But now, with four candidates on the ballot, she says that was a mistake.

"I think we should have had a primary. I'm very disappointed that I voted for not having one," Hokamp said.

Lee Albrecht says he was for a primary from the start.

"I think the citizens deserve to have a mayor who is going to be elected by more than half the people," Albrecht said.

In a 5-3 vote, the council decided not to have a primary. But what does it mean for the election itself?

"If somebody wins by only a third, legitimacy goes down. That reduces the power often of the mayor to get things through the city council," Political Science Professor at UWSP Ed Miller said.

And in February, the primary would have been the only thing on the ballot. That's a reason some council members say they voted against it.

"If you do have a primary where there is nothing else on the ballot, it would be a very low turnout. That's the negative on primaries," Miller said.

Some candidates say they are torn on how they feel about a lack of a primary.

"I think the fact that there are four candidates running, that doesn't bother me. Somebody will likely win without a majority, but a plurality. That possibly could create problems down the road," Mayoral candidate James Lucas said.

"We've had to raise more money and really work twice as hard to reach that many more voters, knowing that it could be split between four candidates," Mayoral candidate Zach Vruwink said.

Candidate Dave Walters also says he was in favor of a primary. Andy Nelson could not be reached for comment. 

Online Reporter: Cassandra Vinch

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