On 8.24.2009 Lake Geneva Wisconsin’s Mayor, William Chesen’s plan to game the system and get his buddy, and the former Mayor Shelly Shepstone a seat on the city council blew up in his face like a fourth of July firecracker.
Alderman Gary Dunhan, from the first district, decided to vacate his seat which he was elected to in April of 2009. This is when the games began. The Mayor first tried to ‘appoint’ his fellow police officer and former Mayor, Mr. Shepstone, to the position while two very independent alderman were on summer vacation in August, and likely to object. But it is summer vacation time and since the alderman were given hardly any notice of Mr Dunhan’s resignation the Mayor could not get enough members of the council together at the next council meeting to have a quorum.
Mayor Chesen than decided to attack the alderman who were unable to attend the meeting on 8.10.2009; he has a habit of attacking and trying to get even with those who disagree with him. Their non-attendance was “unexcused”. There is no such thing as a “unexcused” absence in city government, only in Mr. Chesen’s mind.
Despite warnings from the City Attorney, Mayor Chesen claimed “two Aldermen who have willfully and intentionally avoided coming to two meetings and they have done that with an intent I think, to perpetrate a fraud on this council and this community…. They have orchestrated backdoor deals; they have negotiated little concessions on how they are going to do their business. And they are waiting for their numbers to be in place so they can appoint a person in the first district who they want. We have asked that they agree to an election for that position.” Aldermans Mary Jo Fesenmaier, Tom Spellman, Penny Roehrer and Gary Dunhan were absent.
The city Atty.Dan Draper than reminded Mr. Chesen that according to State Statues the Mayor cannot appoint a council vacancy; only the city council can. In fact the last vacancy, when Mr. Chesen was on the council, the council not the mayor appointed current alderman Krause after publicly soliciting candidates and three votes. Mr. Chesen seems to have forgotten that legal procedure. Now this is the way it has been done for at least 20 years in Lake Geneva, in fact Mr. Dunhan had previously been ‘appointed’ by none other than Mr. Shepstone when he was Mayor. See what a small political circle tries to run Lake Geneva,Wisconsin.
In desperation the Mayor tried to have a special election for the vacancy, which is provided for in the State Statures according to City Attorney Dan Draper. It is nice that Lake Geneva actually has a city attorney that does his homework for a change.
Before the next council meeting word got out around town that former Mayor Spiro Condos was interested in applying for the job. Now in 2008 Mr. Condos and Mr. Chesen ran against each other for Mayor. It was the dirtiest political race ever to take place in Lake Geneva. An anonymous letter was sent to local residents attacking not only Mr. Condos but also attacking his wife and children with blatant, vile lies. The letter is so vile and obviously libelous that I cannot provide a copy of it here— it was vicious, nasty.
Mayor Chesen’s next tried to hold a special election, which is another way to fill a vacancy according to statues. IF he couldn’t get his buddy Mr. Shepstone in at least he wanted to keep Mr. Condos out. In the last election in April 2009 Mr. Shepstone ran for Alderman in the first district and lost against Mr. Dunhan. It was widely believed that Mr. Shepstone ran as a placeholder.
At the council meeting on 8.24.2009 council chambers was packed with members of the Lake Geneva Fire Department who supported the Mayor in the last election. The fire department is a unionized volunteer department. When Mr. Condos was elected by the council the firemen erupted in a well organized hissy fit.
According to longtime resident Jo Ann Williams in last 17 months the largest vote getter in the First District was Mr. Condos with 267 votes, he received more votes than candidates Chesen, Krause,Mathason, Dunnhan, and Mr. Shepstone. In the past 20 years there has never been a special election of the city council. Alderman Krohn said in the last fifty years, the city has never had a special election to fill a vacancy.
Aldermans Arlenn Krohn,Tom Spellman,Mary Jo Fesenmaier, and Penny Roehrer voted to appoint Mr. Condos to fill the vacancy. Tolar and Krause voted no, while Frank Marcella abstained.
Mayor Chesen vowed to bring charges against some council members.