Teacher Who Wants To Run For School Board Responds To Challenge Of His Declaration Of Candidacy Signatures

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By: 
Matt Geiger

The middle school science teacher who wants to run for school board filed a response yesterday to the incumbent’s challenge to his candidacy papers.

David Dahmen filed a Declaration of Candidacy last week. He initially turned in photocopies of the signatures that are required by state statute. Jim Greer, the sitting Area 1 school board member against whom Dahmen hopes to run, on Jan. 7 filed a challenge based on the fact that Government Accountability Board rules require original signatures rather than facsimiles.

Dahmen had until the end of Thursday, Jan. 10 to submit a verified response with Annette Ashley, the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School Board’s clerk.

Ashley will now decide whether to place Dahmen’s name on the April 2 ballot.

Calling himself a “veteran teacher but a novice candidate,” Dahmen said he was initially unaware of the need to turn in original signatures. He added that the filing clerk did not inform him that originals were needed until one day after he dropped off his Declaration. Dahmen said he immediately provided the originals once the clerk made him aware of the requirement.

“I gave the photocopies to the filing officer,” Dahmen wrote in his account of what happened. “After handing my papers to her, I waited for her to tell me whether I had complied with the filing requirements.  I asked if the documents were adequate, to which she replied in the affirmative.”

“The following day, the filing officer called me,” he continued. “She said that she had made a mistake in accepting photocopied papers and that she had been unaware of the statutory provisions for this requirement which required that the originals be filed.”

Dahmen said he immediately, following the school work day, delivered the original nomination papers to the filing officer. He said a comparison of the documents shows they are identical.

Pointing out that photocopies are admissible as court evidence under Wis. Stat. 910.03, and taking into account the fact that he handed in originals within 24 hours, Dahmen contended he should be allowed on the ballot.

“The overriding purpose of nomination papers is to show that a candidate has a least a minimum level of support for his or her candidacy from qualified electors in the political subdivision where the candidate seeks to stand for office,” he wrote. “I timely met that standard.”

If Ashley sides with Dahmen, the teacher, who is also past president of the MEA teachers union, could face other obstacles, if he were to defeat Greer on Election Day.

Barry Forbes, associate executive director and staff counsel for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards,  said last week the criminal conflict of interest statute (WI Stat. 946.13), the code of ethics for government officials (WI Stat. 19.59) and the common law doctrine of incompatibility of offices or positions all contain prohibitions intended to keep elected officials from overseeing themselves as employees.

Forbes said Dahmen, who filed with the district to retire in June, might have to leave his teaching position before then in order to take a seat on the school board.

 

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