WHITEWATER — Whitewater Common Council member Stephanie Goettl Vander Pas announced her resignation from the city council Thursday.
Vander Pas represented Aldermanic District 5, which consists of Wards 10-12.
She first was appointed to the council in November 2011, to fulfill the incomplete term of former council member Javoni Butler, while she was a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She originally served as the District 2 representative, but after several years in that post she changed residences within the city, and she then was elected to the District 5 seat.
On Thursday, city manager Cameron Clapper read a proclamation recognizing Vander Pas’ seven years of service on the council on behalf of the city and presented her with a plaque.
Vander Pas said she is leaving Whitewater because both she and her husband have accepted new employment opportunities in Kenosha and Racine, respectively.
Vander Pas made a statement about her departure Thursday.
“At the time I was appointed to the council, I was a 20-year-old undergrad, and I have since grown into a married woman with a family,” she said. “My husband has graciously commuted from Whitewater to first Beloit, then Waukesha. He has accepted a position in Racine and now it’s time for me to relocate our family.
“As a woman in a position that for so long has often been reserved for men, I am grateful to my husband for the sacrifices he has made to allow me to serve this city,” Vander Pas remarked. “My husband is a man of honor and integrity, and while he has for so long allowed me to put Whitewater above everything else, it is now time for me to put our marriage and our life first.”
She said she will miss serving on the council and working with her fellow elected officials and city staff, and she joked that she “hoped I could go five years without hearing the words ‘zoning re-write.’”
Vander Pas also commented on her recent sexual harassment experience as well as older sexist language she sometimes experienced while she was holding office, adding only that she regretted that she did not speak out sooner.
“I do not want your pity, I am just asking to see what I have seen and hear what I heard — that even at 20 years old I knew that being a young woman on the council was not going to be the same as being a man,” she said. “Just understand that, even in 2018, women still face these things frequently.”
The city council has a policy for appointing replacement council members. According to council president Patrick Singer, that process will be followed once more.
Anyone interested in serving the District 5 on the council needs to submit an application for appointment. City clerk Michele Smith formally will post the opening by Monday, Nov. 12.
The deadline for applying for the District 5 seat will be 4 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10. That will give the remaining council members a week to review all applicants, as the appointment will be made at the council’s Dec. 18 meeting.
Applicants will be able to make statements that night, and will answer questions by the council in a public setting. Once the applicants have spoken, the council will vote on their selection.
Whoever is selected will be sworn in on Dec. 18 and begin serving on the council immediately afterward.
Under state law, anyone appointed to fulfill a term of an elected official will have their position on the ballot at the next available election day. That means whoever is appointed will be on the ballot for the Spring election in April.
Like any other election, any District 5 resident can run for the seat in April as well.
The council also made new committee assignments based on Vander Pas’ departure.
The council appointed council member Chris Grady to the Community Development Authority and council member Jim Allen to the Alcohol License Committee. A third position, on the Public Works Committee, was left open since council member Jim Shilgut was unable to attend Thursday’s meeting.