January 11, 2012 | 07:44 AMELKHORN — You wouldn't expect a local election to be overseen by the Walworth County clerk of courts.
But that's who's in charge of the village of Bloomfield's first major election Tuesday, Feb. 7.
"It's very rare," County Court Clerk Sheila Reiff said Wednesday, Jan. 4, during a telephone interview.
Then again, it's also not common for part of a town to become a village. On Nov. 8, voters approved a referendum to incorporate a 12-square-mile region northeast of Highway H.
In December, the town presented the referendum and the Nov. 8 results to Reiff. She said she certified it and submitted it to the State Department of Administration. On Dec. 20, the DOA certified it, and the village of Bloomfield became official.
But Reiff said according to state statutes, this sets the clock ticking. After DOA certification, the village has between 40 and 50 days to conduct its first election for members of the Bloomfield Village Board.
"It was my duty to set the election day," she said.
Reiff said she met with several county and Bloomfield officials, including the county's Clerk Kim Bushey and Corporation Counsel Michael Cotter, Town Clerk Martie Wells and Bloomfield Village Attorney Brian Schuk.
"We all met and picked Feb. 7," Reiff said.
The reason Reiff is in charge of the village election is because there isn't a village clerk.
"There's a town clerk, but not a village clerk," she said. "They have to appoint one, but they can only do that once the Village Board members are elected."
It's been a learning opportunity for Reiff, who said she has never been "on this side of it" before. She has held the elected clerk of courts position since 1995, so she said she grew accustomed to obtaining nomination papers and running a campaign.
"But I like new challenges, so this is OK with me," Reiff said. "I just want to make sure it's done correctly."
She said the officials she has been working with have helped her along the right path so far, and she said she will select Wells as her deputy clerk for the Feb. 7 election.
"I have never done an election before, so I need someone there who knows how to do it," Reiff said.
How to run for new Village Board
She also explained the process for someone to follow to become an official candidate on the Feb. 7 ballot for Bloomfield Village Board.
There are five spots open — one for village president and four trustees. Of the trustees, two spots hold one-year terms, two have two-year terms.
During a separate Jan. 4 telephone interview, Bloomfield Village President Ken Monroe explained his thoughts going into a special Dec. 20 meeting when the Village Board established a five-person board with staggered trustee terms.
It sounds like the possibility of the village annexing the remaining town of Bloomfield figured heavily into the decision, which was approved 5-0.
"My opinion at that time was by having four trustees and one president, if the annexation goes through, we could put two other trustees on and go to a seven-person board," Monroe said. "That way, the outlying area (current town) would have two representatives. At this time, I felt it would be better to just keep it at five."
Not only are there five open spots on the new Bloomfield Village Board, but Reiff said to be a candidate, one requirement is to collect between 35 and 69 signatures from village voters on their nomination papers.
"It's required by state statutes to be no less than 5 percent and no more than 10 percent of the total number of votes on the referendum," Reiff said. "That's why it's between 35 and 69 signatures."
But before anyone can grab nomination papers, they have to file their campaign financial registration form. Once a potential candidate files this form, they have to file a declaration of candidacy and can circulate nomination papers to obtain the necessary signatures.
"When they are filling out nomination papers and they're having people sign, I want them to make sure they fill out what office they're running for," Reiff said.
She also requests the would-be candidate to print the name above someone's signature if it's illegible.
According to Reiff, these papers are available at her office at 1800 Highway NN. Papers also can be obtained from the State Government Accountability Board's website, gab.wi.gov/.
"We have a packet people can pick up," Reiff said.
She said they also provide a map which outlines the new village boundaries as part of this packet, which includes sample forms.
The deadline for filing the required documents to become an official candidate on the Feb. 7 ballot is Monday, Jan. 23, by 5 p.m. Documents must be filed at Reiff's office.