Recently elected Portage council member picked for Columbia County Board seat

May 8, 2019

At age 26, Eric Shimpach is likely to undertake his second local government post.

The Columbia County Board’s Executive Committee on Monday voted unanimously to recommend the full County Board appoint Shimpach to the District 6 County Board seat, vacated in December by the death of Supervisor Kirk Konkel.

The County Board is expected to vote on Shimpach’s appointment May 15, and if approved, he will be sworn in immediately.

The County Board’s District 6 comprises wards 5 and 8 in the city of Portage.

In April, Shimpach was elected to represent the city of Portage’s District 6 on the Portage Common Council after defeating Kyle Little.

Executive Committee Member Barry Pufahl noted that it’s not unusual for Columbia County Board members to hold multiple local government posts; Pufahl, for example, has been a Pardeeville village trustee and village president during his county board tenure.

But his key question to Shimpach was about his availability for daytime meetings.

Most of the Columbia County Board’s governing committees meet during the day, whereas most city of Portage committees, boards and commissions meet in the early evening.

Shimpach said he’s self-employed as an employee recruiter for businesses, and works from home. Therefore, he can be available at almost any time, he said.

“I have quite a lot of time availability, days and evenings,” he said. “I’d like to serve my community.”

Konkel, 74, died in his Portage home unexpectedly Dec. 14. He had been on the Columbia County Board since 2010, and most recently was chairman of the Ad Hoc Building Committee, which oversaw the county’s $47 million building project, completed in 2018.

In April 2014, Shimpach, then 21, nearly denied Konkel a third term on the County Board. He ran for the District 6 seat and got 55 votes to Konkel’s 57.

County Board Chairman Vern Gove said Shimpach was the only candidate to express interest in serve the remainder of Konkel’s term — which, like all county board terms, will expire in April 2020.

Gove told the committee they could consider appointing Shimpach or seek more applicants.

“He shows willingness to serve, and I think that’s good,” Supervisor Jo Ann Wingers of the town of Courtland said in seconding the motion to recommend Shimpach’s appointment.

Most County Board members serve on at least two committees.

Shimpach expressed interest in the Information Services and Property Committee, because he works remotely using a computer.

“But I’d be willing to serve in any capacity,” he said. “I just want to help.”