Washington County Supervisor Peter Sorce said Monday he wants to the see county government move into the 21st century by lengthening the term of office for supervisors and staggering their election.
Terms are two years, and all County Board members come up for election at the same time. A change would have to be made to state law, as counties that are selforganizing are allowed to decide on concurrent or staggered terms but do not have the power to change the length of term.
In making his case for the changes to the members of the Executive Committee, Sorce said he’s spent the past three years traveling the state to get support for making changes.
“Other counties are in support,” he said. County Supervisor and Executive Committee member Joe Gonnering said he would not be in favor of a four-year term.
“We’ve have people who were elected and after one term, decided that they didn’t like it or that it didn’t fit in their work schedule. If it was a four-year term, I don’t think people would run. I think we should stay with the two-year so we get some younger people interested, not just people who are retired.”
County Board Chairman Herb Tennies said he would not support staggered elections.
Sorce said he wants the longer term in office “because there is a lot to learn and that you just get started and you have to run for election again with a twoyear term.” He also feels there would be an advantage to having only a quarter of supervisors up for election at one time.
The way it is now, he said, the entire board could be voted off and all new people elected. “If terms are staggered, at least you would have a quarter of the board still in place that knows what’s going on.”
Committee members voted to submit a draft of an advisory resolution to the County Board for its consideration.
The draft form of the advisory resolution notes that “County Board supervisors must become knowledgeable in all areas of county government in order to make informed decisions about programs and services delivered to its citizenry,” and that while counties are permitted to run supervisor terms concurrently or staggered but may not increase the length of term.
The resolution also states that allowing counties the flexibility in term of office “will permit counties to determine, on a local level, how to best serve the constituency.”
If approved by the County Board, the resolution would be sent to Gov. Scott Walker, all state legislators who represent Washington County and the Wisconsin Counties Association for inclusion as a conference resolution.