Portage Common Council is again at full strength

November 12, 2018

Not long ago, former Portage Common Council member Allan Radant checked the city’s website, just out of curiosity, to see who represents him on the Common Council.

That’s how he found out the District 1 seat was vacant.

On Thursday, Radant took that seat, after the council unanimously ratified his appointment by Mayor Rick Dodd, who noted that this is Radant’s second go-round as a Common Council member.

In the early 2000s, during Bill Tierney’s first stint as mayor, Radant was appointed to the seat, representing the southeast corner of Portage where he has lived since 1992.

Radant said he doesn’t remember the exact years he was on the council, and neither did Dodd. Radant noted, however, that he recognized only one of the current Common Council members — Rita Maass, who was on the council in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and whose most recent stint on the council started with her 2012 election as representative of District 9.

The District 1 seat had been vacant since late June, when council member Mary Hamburg stepped down because she was moving to Elroy.

This has been an historically difficult seat to fill. Hamburg was the first, in a long time, to win the seat by getting her name on the ballot — and then, only after she completed the term she won in 2014 by write-in votes.

Starting in 2008, the seat was held by Kenneth Ebneter, who also won by write-in votes — none of them his own. Ebneter, 84, died in January.

Dodd made a pitch for applicants to fill the District 1 seat during his quarterly listening session in September, a little more than two months after Hamburg’s departure. He said he’d had an applicant step forward soon after Hamburg resigned, but the applicant’s residence was outside of District 1, by about two blocks.

District 1 is bounded on the southwest by East Wisconsin Street, and extends to East Edgewater, Howard, Wolf and Whitney streets.

“Nobody there is interested in doing this,” Radant said. “Why? Good question.”

Since he’s been retired for two years, Radant, 67, said he now has the time and the interest in serving on the council.

“I’m kind of looking forward to being back on the council,” he said as he waited for the start of Thursday’s meeting, the only citizen in the gallery.

What he likes best about it, he said, is “the fact that I’m doing something for the community.”

Radant said he’s holding off on commenting on issues the council is currently facing, until he gets settled into his council seat.

His service will including membership on some of the council’s most influential committees.

Shortly after City Clerk Marie Moe swore Radant in at Thursday’s Common Council meeting, the council ratified Radant’s committee appointments: Finance and Administration, Legislative and Regulatory, Municipal Services and Utilities and Cable TV Commission.

Dodd had said, when Hamburg resigned, that her successor would be appointed to the same committees to which she had been assigned.

Radant will serve the remaining two years of Hamburg’s term. which expires in April 2020.

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