Atlantic Cities
Democracy in America

Boozy, Brawling Wisconsin Mayor Gets the Boot

Boozy, Brawling Wisconsin Mayor Gets the Boot
WISN/YouTube

Turns out you can run a city just fine but still get ousted from office if you can't hold your liquor.

Last night, Sheboygan voters tossed out Mayor Bob Ryan in the Wisconsin city's first-ever mayoral recall election. Sheboyganites demanded the recall after Ryan got caught by the media's klieg light in a number of sottish exploits, such as brawling at a bar, talking about his sister-in-law's “hummer” (not the car) and incurring a lawsuit by hitting on the city's human-resources director, although in his defense he might've been sober for that last one.

The Sheboygan Press went out to canvass the streets following the election, and wound up with a bunch of responses like this:

“He hasn’t done that bad a job as mayor. I have no big complaints, I have no big praise,” Clarke said. “But I think his behavior has been an embarrassment.”

And:

“Bob has done a good job, but he’s put us on the map in the wrong way,” Adomavich said.

Ryan himself echoed this sentiment in his concession speech when he directed this message to the media: “When people have personal issues, when people have issues they need to deal with, they shouldn't be ostracized. They shouldn't be shamed. They shouldn't be told, 'Go away and get shiny, and come back.' People can get sober and do their jobs at the same time.”

The mayor said that Sheboygan was in a better place today than three years ago – and added that he was, too, with more than 200 days of sobriety under his belt. When asked what he planned to do, he joked that if anybody wanted “an exemplary employee, I'll be available.”

The winner of the mayoral race, Terry Van Akkeren, will be sworn in on March 5 and serve to the end of Ryan's term in April 2013. Van Akkeren, who won by a margin of 53 to 47 percent, said in his own speech, “It's time to be proud of Sheboygan again.”

John Metcalfe is a staff writer at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

Join the Discussion