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Green Bay City alders react to allegations of election mismanagement

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 10:47 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Green Bay City Council members are speaking out in the wake of allegations that the city didn’t properly administer the 2020 elections.

Action 2 News first reported last that week that a report spurred several Republican lawmakers to call for the resignation of Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich.

RELATED: Wisconsin senators call for Genrich’s resignation, investigation of how November election was handled

Monday night, some alders discussed what they believe the council’s role is in addressing the allegations.

City Council President Jesse Brunette is one alder who asked for the council to discuss how the city handled last year’s elections at Tuesday’s council meeting.

“As a city council, it is incumbent upon us to be independent,” said Brunette. “We are part of city government, of course, but we are an independent elected branch of city government. We don’t do the work of the administration. We don’t want to be highly critical of the administration, but we certainly want to have a level of independence.”

The meeting comes one week after Wisconsin Spotlight released its report alleging a “former democratic operative” had access to ballots, and a hearing by the State Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections.

RELATED: Former Brown County Clerk testifies at hearing over Green Bay elections report

“The people who are making the accusations, I have yet to see any proof. Watching the hearing is interesting, lots of insinuations, lots of innuendos,” said District 1 Alder Barb Dorff. “There did not seem like there was an interest in hearing both sides of this issue. Again, no speakers were invited that had any firsthand knowledge of what we did behind the scenes to get ready for this election.”

The report also brings into question grant funding from the Center of Tech and Civic Life.

The funds were approved by the council, but Alder Brunette says he had reservations.

“The things that City staff said we would use the money for made sense, and then as this thing played out and as the open records request have shown is that there are a lot of things that existed with the administration in the election that city council members were not aware of,” said Brunette.

“The funds must be used exclusively for the public purpose of planning and operationalizing safe and secure election administration in the City of Green Bay. That’s only what they could be used for, and that’s what they were used for,” said Alder Dorff, who was also part of the city’s ad hoc committee on elections.

Another part of Tuesday’s agenda is a resolution asking the council to stand behind the City and its administration of the election.

“I have no doubt in my mind that we did this in a safe, secure, effective manner, and I stand behind our election and our mayor and our city,” said Dorff.

“Dare I say that it’s extremely premature and inappropriate for that to be on the agenda at this point,” said Brunette.

Brunette also hopes the council can keep partisan politics out of the conversation.

“I really think the city council should not view this from a partisan perspective. Partisanship should have nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, I feel the mayor’s partisanship over the last few years has invited this partisan response over the administration of this election,” said Brunette.

RELATED: Green Bay releases thousands of election documents as calls continue for mayor’s resignation

Action 2 News reached out to Mayor Genrich’s chief of staff for comment for this story.

Mayor Genrich was unavailable but we were told this issue will be tackled head on at Tuesday night’s meeting, which will be held virtually starting at 6 p.m.

CLICK HERE to learn how to watch the meeting.

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