Green Bay council members discuss dual roles

Green Bay council members discuss dual roles
Green Bay council members discuss dual roles

GREEN BAY - Next month voters will be back at the polls, electing who they want to represent them on the city and county level. However, in some cases, the same person may be in both races.

Outgoing Green Bay Alderperson Amy Kocha requested the issue be discussed. An advisory committee took it up Monday night, but no action was taken.

Kocha says she wants voters to be aware of the issue as they prepare for the polls.

For the past eight years, Tom DeWane has served on both the Green Bay City Council and the Brown County Board of Supervisors. He says it's never been an issue.

“I think in my past four terms, I've proven you can deal with both,” said DeWane. “I think it's important for the city of Green Bay that you do have a voice in Brown County.”

Green Bay's city attorney says county statute allows a person to serve on both levels. However, Alderperson Kocha says she doesn't support one person for both roles.

“I think our electorate is better served and first and foremost it means more people will be in office by having individuals only serving on one board and I think that's best for the community,” said Kocha.

There are decisions that both governing bodies vote on. A recent example was the funding for the expansion of Green Bay's KI Convention Center.

DeWane says in those situations, it's a positive to serve on the county and city level.

“You can look at both options and outweigh it what the cost is going to be and the negatives and the positives, so it's important I think,” said DeWane.

However, Kocha says the dual role increases the chances for conflict.

There are rules in place to discourage a city council member from having county interests influence their vote, including a potential ethics violation. An alderperson could also excuse themselves in a potentially conflicting situation.

“I'm not as concerned about the issue of resolving the problem, I'm just hoping to prevent the problem from coming up,” said Kocha.

She says the best way to prevent the problem is having a different person in each role.

As for DeWane, that is a concern he doesn't have to worry about this year. He is running unopposed in both of his races.

Of Green Bay's 12-member council, only two members are also on the 26-member board of Brown County supervisors. Andy Nicholson is the other.