Oneida town chairman's death prompts brother to take his place on the ballot

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TOWN OF ONEIDA, Wis. (WBAY) - Town of Oneida Chairman Gary Schaumberg didn't make it out of surgery last month. Schaumberg was seeking re-election, but now his younger brother is taking his place on the ballot.

Scott Schaumberg is a dairy farmer and long-time volunteer firefighter for the Town Of Oneida. He's running against Marlene Minnie Garvey, who sits on the Environmental Resource Board for Oneida Nation and is a volunteer animal rehabilitator with Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.

The sudden ballot change was possible because of a Wisconsin law. The law says if an election candidate dies after nomination, the vacant ballot spot could be filled by a nominee chosen by that candidate's committee, or a governing body if it's a non-partisan election.

"In a non-partisan election, like the town board, then the town board can nominate someone as well, and that's what happened in this case," said Reid Magney, spokesperson with the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Magney says a candidate dying during a campaign is extremely rare.

"In the last 10 years when I've been here working for the state talking to the media about elections, this is the first time I've heard of it that I can recall," adds Magney.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission says a new candidate can replace the late candidate on the ballot up until ballots can no longer be reprinted.

Town of Oneida Supervisor Terry Hock says following Gary’s death, the town had a matter of hours to decide who would fill the vacancy on the ballot.

"The state gave us two hours to have a special meeting, and after that then he did all the paperwork and filed it, and they had to reprint whole new ballots and everything,” said Hock.

Scott put his name on the ballot because he felt it’s what his brother would've wanted him to do.

"Oh yeah, the first thing his family said to me when I met with them, they said, 'Who's going to take over the chairman of Oneida for the town?' I informed them that I'd put my name in the candidacy, and they all got up and gave me a hug and said, 'Thank you very much,'" said Scott Schaumberg.

The law does not apply to candidates who decide against running or who move out of the area during elections.

"People wonder, you know, can that person's name be replaced on the ballot? And the answer is no. The only way for somebody to be replaced on the ballot is if he or she dies,” said Magney.