65 Op. Att'y Gen. 131 (1976)
65 OAG 131  132


Wisconsin Attorney General Opinions

30 July 1976

Votes And Voting;
Governmental Operations, Board Of;
Public Officials;

Cities; A city Common Council may not vote to
fill a vacancy on the Common Council by a
secret ballot. Sec. 19.88 (1), Stats.

JAN MEERDINK, Alderwoman, Menasha, Wisconsin

You advise that a vacancy in the Common
Council of the City of Menasha is about to
occur as a result of an announced resignation
and that the Common Council will fill that
vacancy pursuant to the provisions of Section
17.23(1), Stats., which provides in pertinent

     Vacancies in offices of cities operating
     under the general law or special charter
     shall be filled as follows:

     17.23(1)(a) . . . In the office of
                 alderman . . in cities of
                 2nd, 3rd and 4th class,
                 by the common council . .

65 OAG 131  132

Pursuant to Section 19.98, Stats.,
authorizing any person to request advice
from the attorney general on Subchapter IV
of Chapter 19, Stats., Wisconsin's Open
Meetings of Governmental Bodies Law, you
request my opinion on whether the Common
Council may vote by secret ballot to
fill the vacancy pursuant to the
provisions of above-quoted
Section 17.23(1), Stats.

The pertinent statutory provision,
Section 19.88(1), Stats.,
provides as follows:

     Unless otherwise specifically provided
     by statute, no secret ballot may be
     utilized to determine any election
     or other decision of a governmental
     body except the election of the
     officers of such body in any meeting.

It is my opinion that the Common Council may
not vote by secret ballot to fill the vacancy
in the Common Council of the City of Menasha.

I construe the phrase in Section 19.88(1)
"officers of such body" to mean the
leadership positions or officially
designated positions of the body as
contrasted with members of the body.

Members of the Common Council are, for many
purposes, considered officers of the city.

But this does not make such council
members officers of such body.

65 OAG 131  132