When no one filed to run for Wauwatosa's 6th District seat, the void left City Clerk Carla Ledesma puzzled.
Ledesma said she's never encountered that circumstance in her tenure as city clerk, which began in 1998.
'In my experience, we've not had that,' she said of the peculiar situation.
Alderwoman Allison Byrne, who represents the district, alongside Alderman Jeff Roznowski, who has filed for non-candidacy, said the two of them searched high and low in their district, hoping to encourage someone to run and fill the vacancy.
'We tried and tried and tried,' Byrne said, adding there were many people interested, but no immediate takers.
As the Jan. 5 deadline to file for candidacy slowly approached and no one had turned in the required paperwork to run for the seat on the Wauwatosa Common Council, Ledesma said she turned to the Government Accountability Board — the official government board for elections, campaign finance, ethics and lobbying — for answers.
Wauwatosa resident Craig Wentzel said he viewed the lack of candidates as the perfect opportunity to run a write-in campaign.
'When I found out nobody had filed papers, I thought, well, I'll jump in,' he said, adding he had considered running for public office for some time.
A 1969 graduate of Wauwatosa West High School, Wentzel, 64, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison before eventually purchasing a home in Oak Creek. About 24 years ago, he returned to Wauwatosa to be closer to family and so his daughter could attend the city's public schools.
Wentzel is a self-proclaimed supporter of schools and, since he lives near Mayfair mall, he cares about development too, he said, adding Wauwatosa needs to bring in more higher-paying jobs along with the new development.
Balancing development with green space is an issue Wentzel said he feels passionate about.
Wentzel has a background in manufacturing; he began his career as a welder and moved through management positions until he recently retired as a plant operations manager.
'I am now enjoying that retirement with plenty of time to spend on issues of concern,' he said in a statement. 'That is why I decided to run for alderman. I feel it is imperative to keep a strong public school system in Wauwatosa. That is why my parents moved to Wauwatosa years ago and that is why I moved back to Wauwatosa. The schools are one of many things that make Tosa a great place to live.'
His passion for schools carries over to his volunteer work, which included a tenure on the board of the Milwaukee Section of the American Welding Society, which aimed to raise funds for scholarships to help area students attend colleges with a focus on careers in the welding field.
'I feel that my lifelong connection with this community gives me a unique prospective that is needed in making the major decisions that affect us all,' he said in a statement.
The general election is April 5. Whichever write-in candidate receives the highest number of votes on election day will win the race. If there are no write-in candidates, the common council will appoint an alderperson.