LE CENTER — Gary Meidlinger says he has no intention of staking out a fellow city councilman-elect’s house; he just wants to see a wrong made right.
But Le Center city officials say they have no evidence that a wrong has been done, and short of night monitoring the house in question, there’s not a lot they can do.
Meidlinger, an official candidate voted onto the City Council in November, contends that write-in council seat winner Dennis Woelfel doesn’t reside in Le Center as required by law.
Because he was a write-in, Woelfel wasn’t required to file an official candidate form avowing place of residence.
Woelfel, who owns a Le Center construction business, declined to comment on the matter and referred any questions to city attorney Jason Moran.
Moran said he’s aware of Meidlinger’s concern but can’t look into the issue unless directed to do so by the City Council following a formal request from a citizen.
Meidlinger said he’ll do whatever what it takes but thinks he’s already made a proper request via letters to city officials.
“They’re pretending like I haven’t raised a concern, but I’ve done this until I’m blue in the face. I feel they’re almost trying to brush it under a rug and ignore the whole thing.”
Not so, City Administrator Chris Collins said.
He said right after the election the city checked into records regarding the house on the site of Woelfel’s business. Collins said that residence is listed on Woelfel’s driver’s license and his tax statements were sent there.
What’s not known is how much time Woelfel spends there; he also has a home on a lake several miles from the city. State statute regarding residency determination is somewhat open-ended, the key elements being that a person must live in and “usually” sleep at said residence.
“And short of someone standing outside at his property to see if he sleeps there ... there’s not a lot we can do,” Collins said.
Meidlinger said he’s not interested in becoming a night stalker but thinks it shouldn’t have to come to that.
“I shouldn’t have to do something crazy like that to get city officials to do the right thing.”
Meidlinger contends that Woelfel’s lake home is his full-time residence as evidenced by city water bills that are public record. He said bills for the Le Center house reflect bare-minimum fees year-round, a finding Collins acknowledges.
Meidlinger, who works at his father’s kitchen countertop company, said he harbors no personal ill will toward Woelfel, though he said he called him recently and asked him to withdraw from the council position.
New council members will be sworn in Tuesday.