By Shereen Siewert

Members of the Wausau City Council on Oct. 22 will decide between four candidates applying to represent Dist. 8, a seat left vacant after longtime city council member Karen Kellbach stepped down from her role to move to Oklahoma to be closer to her son. She died days later.

Applicants, in alphabetical order, are Tony Brown, Josh Dirks, Jennifer Gabriel and Linda Lawrence, according to City Clerk Toni Rayala.

  • Brown grew up in Wausau and attended college in Colorado Springs at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He holds two bachelor’s degrees, one in education and the other in economics. He served as union president in Rosholt, math department chair in Palm Springs, Stevens Point chair of the Wisconsin Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, and ran for alderperson in Wausau and in Green Bay, according to his application materials. He worked in construction, education and sales. Brown, in his application, said he is retired and has “the time and experience to represent the citizens of District 8.”
  • Dirks is the landscaping director of Down to Earth Greenhouse and has been a server at Intermission since 2008. He has bachelors degrees in film production and philosophy from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and associate degrees in web and digital media from Northcentral Technical College. He was a founder of the Wausau Grassroots Festival and has volunteered with the Marathon County Humane Society, Peyton’s Promise, and various political campaigns.
  • Gabriel, a Wausau West High School graduate, is in her 13th year with the Wausau School District as an out of school enrichment coordinator. She also worked in the Wausau Center mall for more than 20 years in either management or sales associate roles, according to her application materials. Gabriel, with Kellbach, facilitated a neighborhood watch group and has also volunteered with numerous organizations including The Women’s Community, the Good News Project, Newman Catholic Schools and others.
  • Lawrence, Wausau’s first and only female mayor to date, won a special election in April 1998 to replace former Mayor John Hess. She was re-elected to a full term in 2000. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social science, with a political science minor. Lawrence also served as alderperson in the city from 1986 to 1998, and was a Marathon County Board supervisor from 1986 to 1992 and from 1994 to 1998.

Applicants will be interviewed at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 22 by members of the city council and will be asked to give a three-minute response to the question, “How have you prepared to step into this role?” After all applicants have addressed the council, a paper ballot vote will be cast by all 10 council members. Voting will continue until one of the applicants receives a majority of at least six votes. The successful applicant will be sworn into office that evening and will serve from Oct. 22, 2019 to April 2020, when spring elections are held.