Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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A different kind of town chairman race
Supervisor says he didn't want to run, calls write-in campaign 'stupid'

by Steve Targo

April 25, 2013

GENEVA — Town Supervisor Gene Decker said it started as a joke, and it got out of hand.

Decker became a write-in candidate against Town Chairman Joe Kopecky in the April 2 election.

Eighty-nine write-in votes were cast in that race.

In a phone interview April 17, Decker said he received most of them.

In fact, he said he received write-in votes in other uncontested local races.

"I think I even got eight for the (State) Supreme Court," Decker said.

But the support he received wasn't enough to topple Kopecky.

The incumbent chairman received 534 votes.

What makes this different from other write-in campaigns is that Decker said he didn't want to be a candidate.

He said he wouldn't want to replace Kopecky, let alone serve as town chairman.

So, how did all this start?

He said a couple of people he serves with on the town's FunFestival Committee launched the campaign. Decker refused to directly identify them.

Although he said he didn't "strongly oppose" it when he first heard about it, Decker said that was because he didn't take it too seriously.

Repeatedly during the interview, he referred to the campaign as "fake" and "a joke."

"I just said, 'You're nuts,'" Decker said, recalling his reaction when those who started the campaign first informed him.

That was on March 28, the Thursday before the election. Decker said the next day, he saw "a big write-up" on Facebook encouraging people to vote for Decker.

"I talked to Joe (Kopecky) on Friday, after I saw it on Facebook," he said, adding that he wanted Kopecky to be aware of it.

He said it even reached the point where Kopecky had to put out signs at the last minute.

"Somebody made up a fake election sign to look just like Keith Millard's," Decker said.

Millard won his bid for supervisor in the town's only official contested race, 350-323 over former incumbent James Daily.

Still, what if Decker won the April 2 election?

"To be real truthful, I have no intention of running for that job," he said, about the office of town chairman. "I'm quite happy as a supervisor."

The town chairman's job is twice as time-consuming as a supervisor's, Decker said, "and I put in a lot of time on this."

"It is not my intention to ever want to replace (Kopecky) with myself," Decker said.

How does Decker feel about those who started the joke?

"I'm on the FunFestival Committee with them," he said.

Will Decker remain on the committee?

"I'll stay on it because it raises money for good causes, and it's a fun time."

Hopes to continue a good working relationship

But where does Decker stand with Kopecky?

According to Decker, he and Kopecky were on different sides of some town issues back when he was first elected supervisor in 2011. He said he wasn't expecting Kopecky to be "friendly" toward him when he became supervisor.

"Joe and I have gotten along, I would say, remarkably well," he said.

Decker said he hopes to continue their good working relationship.

He said Kopecky and he actually agreed on the outcomes of some issues, such as those concerning Lake Como and the Como Beach Property Owners Association. However, Decker said he wouldn't elaborate on these exact issues.

Perhaps it's because he wants to put this whole write-in business behind him.

Decker said he has to work with Kopecky, and he doesn't want to "muddy these waters any further."

"It was all stupid," Decker said about the write-in campaign.