Morgan electors set their April ballot

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Town holds caucus in lieu of primary

Eden Witt, Times Herald Correspondent

This sign, created by Connie and Floyd Hilsabeck, announces details of the town of Morgan caucus, which was held Saturday. “Not too many people know what a caucus is,” said Connie Hilsabeck. (Photo by Eden Witt)

The town of Morgan held its caucus Saturday to nominate candidates to be on the spring ballot for chairperson, town supervisors, town clerk and treasurer.

Around 50 members of the community attended the town caucus, one of four held in the county to nominate the candidates for township positions that will be on the April 2 general election ballot instead of holding a primary.

Julie Belongia, who was nominated for town clerk, said holding a caucus is beneficial to candidates.

“The town decides that they don’t want to do a primary election so that the officers don’t have to worry about a February election,” said Belongia, who is currently the town clerk office holder. Primaries are held the third Tuesday in February if more than two people file for an office, and the top two vote-getters advance to the election in April.

Charlene Borghese, who was Morgan’s certified municipal clerk for seven years until her retirement last March and was nominated for town chairperson, said holding a caucus allows for “democracy in action.”

“It gives residents an opportunity for civic engagement, something unmatched in towns with primaries,” Borghese said, adding that she decided to run for chairperson after some Morgan residents asked her to run since she supported similar values.

Incumbent Town Chairperson Frank Wranosky was also nominated.

Not all Morgan residents agree that the caucus system is beneficial to the community. Connie and Floyd Hilsabeck said that they see the caucus as a way for current officeholders to keep things quiet.

“We have only been up here eight years and have only heard of it the first year we were here. And I have heard of only one other one, like four years ago. I have never heard of one since,” said Floyd Hilsabeck, who added that the caucus is supposed to be held every two years.

After seeing this year’s caucus in the paper, the couple decided to advertise for the caucus themselves by creating two signs that included the date, time and purpose of the caucus.

“Not too many people know what a caucus is,” said Connie Hilsabeck, who also said attending the caucus allows residents to make a change if they wanted to make a change.

Belongia was the only nomination for town clerk, and Town Treasurer Cindy Smith received the only nomination for her post. Leonard Wahl, David Behind and Ron Korzeniewski were nominated for the two supervisor positions; Wahl and Korzeniewski are the incumbents.

The caucus required candidates to be vocally nominated by a resident, and the nomination had to be seconded to be included on the spring ballot. A voting ballot would have been only necessary if more candidates had been nominated for a position than can be on the ballot.

The order of the candidates for the ballot was decided by drawing names out of a box shortly following the nominations, after all of the candidates filled out their paperwork.

The towns of Bagley, Gillett and Underhill are also holding caucuses for town positions in 2019 instead of holding primary elections.

Bagley held its town caucus on Jan. 7, nominating four people for two supervisor positions on the town board — incumbents Herb Fischer and Darryl Houska along with challengers Richard Knueppel and Tom Bauer. Town Chairperson Greg Lechleitner, Clerk Alan Sleeter and Treasurer Joe Hoerth were nominated without opposition.

The Underhill caucus is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Underhill Community Center, 5597 Cardinal Road, Gillett. Information about the Gillett town caucus was not available by press time.