1. What is the proper procedure for filling vacancies in city or village offices?

City Offices

Except as provided in Wis. Stat. § 9.10 (recall), the common council may fill vacancies in the office of mayor or alderperson in second, third, and fourth class cities by majority vote, appointing a successor to serve for the remainder of the unexpired term or until a special election is held, as ordered by the common council under Wis. Stat. § 8.50, or an office may remain vacant until an election is held. Wis. Stat. § 17.23(1)(am).

State law specifies that no special election to fill a vacancy may be held after February 1 preceding the spring election unless it is held on the same day as the spring election, nor after August 1 preceding the general election unless it is held on the same day as the general election, until the day after that election. If the special election is held on the day of the general election, the primary for the special election, if any, shall be held on the day of the partisan primary. If the special election is held on the day of the spring election, the primary for the special election, if any, shall be held on the day of the spring primary. Wis. Stat. § 8.50.

Wisconsin Stat. § 17.23(1)(bm) provides that a vacancy in the office of a city’s municipal judge shall be filled in the manner provided in Wis. Stat. § 8.50(4) (fm) which provides that a permanent vacancy in the office of municipal judge may be filled by temporary appointment of the governing body, or, if the judge is elected under § 755.01(4), jointly by the governing bodies of all municipalities served by the judge. The office shall then be permanently filled by special election. A person so elected serves for the remainder of the unexpired term.

Vacancies in any other elective second, third, and fourth class city offices are filled by appointment by the mayor subject to council confirmation. The person appointed serves for the remainder of the unexpired term unless the common council orders a special election. A person so appointed and confirmed shall hold office until a successor is elected and qualifies. Wis. Stat. § 17.23(1)(c).

Vacancies in appointive city offices may be filled by appointment for the remainder of the unexpired term by the appointing power and in the manner prescribed by law for making regular full-term appointments thereto. Wis. Stat. § 17.23(1m).

Village Offices

Except as provided in Wis. Stat. § 9.10 (recall), vacancies in any elective village office may be filled by appointment by a majority of the members of the village board for the remainder of the unexpired term or until a special election is held, as ordered by the village board, or an office may remain vacant until an election is held. A vacancy in an appointive office shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment. Wis. Stat. § 17.24. If the vacancy is in the office of municipal judge, the provisions of Wis. Stat. §§ 800.06(3) and 8.50(4)(fm) apply.

(rev. 2/21)

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1. 1. What is the proper procedure for filling vacancies in city or village offices?
2. 2. Does a council member or village trustee vacate their office by temporarily moving out of the district or village they represent?
3. 3. What is the proper procedure for resigning from a municipal elective or appointive office?
4. 4. Is there a time limit within which vacancies on a municipal governing bodies must be filled?
5. 5. Must an appointed municipal official be a resident of the municipality he or she serves?
6. 6. Can a minor (i.e., someone who has not reached the age of 18 years) be appointed to a municipal committee or commission?
7. 7. If a municipal official is temporarily unable to perform duties due to illness, may the governing body appoint someone temporarily until the officer is able to return and perform their duties?
8. 8. Does an elected local government official automatically vacate his or her office if s/he moves outside out of the municipality or aldermanic district for which s/he was elected?
9. 9. Can a person vote to fill his/her own vacancy on a municipal governmental body such as a village board or city council?
10. 10. If a new position is created by the municipal governing body, can a member of the governing body resign from the board and apply for the new position?
11. 11. What is the proper method for making an appointment to fill a vacancy in an appointed office?