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Elections: Thao, Gisselman, Smith won’t seek another term on Wausau City Council

in Elections/News

By Shereen Siewert

Three of 11 Wausau City Council representatives will not seek another term to represent their districts, Wausau Pilot and Review has learned.

Gary Gisselman, who represents Dist. 5, and Dennis Smith, who represents Dist. 11, have filed non-candidacy papers, according to Deputy City Clerk Mary Goede.

Gary Gissleman (Photo credit: City of Wausau_

Dist. 10 will also have a new representative in 2020. Mary Thao tells Wausau Pilot and Review that she will step away from public office to spend more time with her children.

Mary Thao (Contributed photo)

“I’ve spent the last five years serving the Wausau School Board and Wausau City Council,” Thao said, in an email to Wausau Pilot and Review. “My son and daughter are now in middle school and these are the most vulnerable years. I’ve made a decision to not seek re-election at this time and hopefully after they graduate I will have time commitment to serve at a different leadership capacity. Thank you to the wonderful citizens for allowing me to serve all of you.”

Thao, who became Wausau’s first female Hmong city council member in 2018, will file non-candidacy papers this week.

Debra Ryan, who spearheads the Westies neighborhood group, has filed candidacy papers in Dist. 11, where Smith currently serves.

Dennis Smith (Photo: City of Wausau)

In Dist. 5, James Wadzinski, a retired Wausau Police lieutenant; and Joel Lewis, the central Wisconsin organizer for Citizen Action of Wisconsin, have both filed candidacy papers. Gary Gisselman served Dist. 5 since 2006.

Three additional current alders will have challengers as of early Monday, Dec. 16.

Sarah Watson will challenge Linda Lawrence in Dist. 8; Judith Miller will challenge Tom Neal in Dist. 4 and Tiffany Lee will challenge Michael Martens in Dist. 2. Lawrence, Neal, and Martens have all filed papers indicating their plans to run for re-election.

Pat Peckham in Dist. 1, David Nutting in Dist. 3, Becky McElhaney in Dist. 6, Lisa Rasmussen in Dist. 7, and Dawn Herbst in Dist. 9 have all filed candidacy papers. So far, no challengers have come forward in those districts.

As of Dec. 16, Wausau’s mayoral race remains unchanged with current Mayor Robert Mielke being challenged by Christopher Norfleet and Katie Rosenberg.

Dec. 1 marked the first day candidates could circulate nomination papers. Candidates for council need between 20 and 40 signatures, while candidates for mayor need between 200 and 400 signatures to appear on the ballot.

Incumbents who do not wish to run again are required to file declaration of non-candidacy forms by 5 p.m. on Dec. 27.

Nomination papers or declarations of candidacy for April elections are due by 5 p.m. Jan. 7, 2020. Residents interested in running for office in Wausau can find paperwork online here.

The primary will be held Feb. 18.

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