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Miller file

In September 2011, Keith Miller of Fall River, then an active Army Reserve member and a member of Columbia County's Veterans Services Commission, explains flag etiquette to the Columbia County Board of Supervisors. Miller is running for County Board in District 19, where Supervisor John Tramburg is stepping down after 35 years on the County Board.

The Columbia County Board seat now held by the board’s longest-serving supervisor is up for grabs, and two prominent Fall River area men want it.

The race for the District 19 seat — the post held by John Tramburg since 1982 — is emerging as a highlight in the lineup of County Board races, in which all 28 seats are up for grabs.

Seeking the non-partisan post are Keith Miller and Steve Rubert.

Neither is a stranger to public service. Rubert, who retired in 2001 after 22 years as superintendent of the Fall River School District, recently stepped down after 14 years as chairman of the town of Fountain Prairie. Miller preceded Rubert in that post, and is also currently president of the Fall River School Board, a member of the Columbia County Veterans Service Commission and was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the Fall River Village Board.

The race for the District 19 seat (encompassing the village of Fall River and one ward of the town of Fountain Prairie) is one of four contested Columbia County Board races. Two of them involve challenges to incumbents.

Three seats have no candidates on the ballot, although potential contenders for one of those seats — District 22 in the city of Columbus, currently held by Teresa Sumnicht — have until 5 p.m. Friday to officially get in the race because Sumnicht filed her non-candidacy declaration after the Dec. 21 deadline.

In District 3 (the town of Fort Winnebago and wards 1 and 2 of the town of Marcellon), County Board First Vice Chairwoman Mary Cupery has a challenger, Tom Borgkvist of the town of Marcellon. This is a rematch of the 2010 County Board race, which Cupery won, 173-144.

Supervisor Fred Teitgen’s seat in District 16 (Ward 1 of the village of Poynette and wards 2 and 3 of the town of Dekorra) is being sought by two contenders, Bob Christofferson and Gary Leatherberry, both of the town of Dekorra. Teitgen, a supervisor since 2003, had opted not to seek re-election.

Supervisor Tim Zander of the town of Columbus is facing a challenge in his quest for a fourth term representing District 20 (the town of Columbus, wards 7 and 8 of the city of Columbus and Ward 2 of the town of Fountain Prairie). The challenger is Darren W. Schroeder of rural Columbus.

Running unopposed

In District 25 (wards 1-3 of the town of Lodi), Town Supervisor Jon Plumer is running unopposed for the seat being vacated by Steve Attoe, who is not seeking a second term.

In addition to District 22, two other County Board seats have no one on the ballot. District 7 (wards 2 and 4 of the city of Portage) has no one vying to succeed Craig Robson, who was appointed to the seat in June, but opted not to run. The same is true in District 26 (wards 1 and 2 of the city of Lodi and wards 5 and 6 of the town of Lodi), where James Brooks has declared non-candidacy after one term.

For Districts 7 and 26, a write-in candidate can win, with or without a declared write-in candidacy, if he or she lives in the district, is a qualified elector, received the most write-in votes and is willing to serve. State law, however, requires candidates mounting a write-in campaign to declare write-in candidacy with their municipal clerks.

For the other County Board seats, the incumbents are on the ballot unopposed.

District 19 deep ties

In the District 19 race, both Miller and Rubert have said they not only know Tramburg well, but they also knew Tramburg’s predecessor — Carl C. Frederick, who also was on the County Board for 35 years. Miller said Frederick, who died in 1983 at age 84, was his great-uncle.

Both Tramburg and Frederick will be honored by having a meeting room in the new Administration Building, 112 E. Edgewater St., named for them.

Rubert and Miller both point to two key issues — roads and finances — in their decision to run.

Rubert said there are 44 miles of road in the town of Fountain Prairie, and the town has enough money to fix maybe one mile a year.

“Roads are a concern,” Rubert said, “but I think the county doesn’t have any more money than the towns do.”

Miller said he is interested in being appointed to the County Board’s Highway Committee if he is elected, and also possibly the Planning and Zoning Committee.

If a development proposal meets zoning regulations, Miller said, it usually should be approved.

“We want to make sure we provide as much opportunity as we can for development, and yet let us all co-exist,” he said.

Rubert — who was on the county’s Traffic Safety Commission while he was Fall River school superintendent — said he, too, is interested in the Highway Committee, and also possibly the Finance Committee, which Tramburg chaired for many years. He acknowledged, however, that appointment to the Finance Committee might be a long shot because “I’d know I’d be a freshman.”

Plumer said Attoe had asked him to run for the District 25 seat.

“I’d been thinking about it for a while, so I thought, Why don’t I do it?” he said.

He, too, expressed interest in being appointed to the Highway Committee. The County Board chairman appoints the standing committees, although supervisors are asked about their preferences.

Plumer said his main concern is fiscal responsibility, including examining the extent to which the county takes on debt.

“Sometimes we forget the effects on the people who earn the money,” he said.

No opposition

Incumbents running unopposed include:

  • District 1 — Robert McClyman of Wisconsin Dells.
  • District 2 — Mike Weyh of the town of Lewiston.
  • District 4 — County Board Chairman Vern Gove of Portage.
  • District 5 — Adam Field of Portage.
  • District 6 — Kirk Konkel of Portage.
  • District 8 — Matthew Rohrbeck of Portage.
  • District 9 — Don DeYoung of Friesland.
  • District 10 — JoAnn Wingers of the town of Courtland.
  • District 11 — Bruce Rashke of the town of Wyocena.
  • District 12 — Barry Pufahl of Pardeeville.
  • District 13 — Dan Drew of the town of Pacific.
  • District 14 — Susanna Bradley of the town of Caledonia.
  • District 15 — Mark Sleger of the town of Lowville.
  • District 17 — Andy Ross of Poynette.
  • District 18 — Harlan Baumgartner of the town of Otsego.
  • District 21 — Henry St. Maurice of Columbus.
  • District 23 — County Board Second Vice Chairman James Foley of the town of Leeds.
  • District 24 — John A. Stevenson of the town of Arlington.
  • District 27 — Nancy Long of Lodi.
  • District 28 — Kevin Kessler of the town of West Point.

Portage alders unopposed

All three Portage Common Council members whose three-year terms are up for grabs in the April 3 election are on the ballot without opposition.

They are Dennis Nachreiner, District 3; Martin Havlovic, District 8; and Doug Klapper, District 9.

Follow Lyn Jerde on Twitter @LynJerde

Portage Daily Register Reporter