Olsen cruises in only contested local race

In the only contested local race Tuesday, incumbent Jim Olsen was re-elected as the District 1 common council representative, defeating political newcomer Michael LeBlanc by a vote of 418-134.

Olsen, 53, called the voter turnout “astronomical” and said he appreciated the support.

“I had hoped to win, but I never know,” Olsen said.

Olsen said he hopes to represent his district and the city well over his next term.

“I am going to do what I feel that I’ve been doing for the last two [years] in supporting not only my district, but the whole city of Whitewater in fiscal responsibility and good management of a very good city government,” Olsen said.

Olsen, who has been on the common council for nine years now, said being in the only contested race didn’t bother him.

“Everybody is entitled to try to represent our community in whatever they can,” Olsen said. “I think I’m doing a good job and the support shows that other people must think that I am too, and we’re going to do that for another two years.”

Olsen has been running Olsen Funeral Home since 1987 and has served two separate terms on the common council. He was most recently elected onto the council in 2009. He is also married with two stepchildren, two foster children and two children of his own.

His familiarity with the city and his ties to the small business owners will help him continue to be an effective member of the council, Olsen said.

“Being a small business owner for the last 24 years has really helped me stay in tune with the people,” Olsen said. “Everybody is hurting, including myself, but that helps me relate and listen to the other people and groups when they need to talk.”

Olsen serves on many city boards and commissions, including the Parks and Recreation board and the Police Commission, which will help find a new police chief for the city. Olsen said in the next few weeks, information will be sent out to a separate firm to help find the next police chief.

For now, however, Olsen said Lt. Lisa Otterbacher will do a great job as the interim chief.

“[Until a new chief is found], we have a very good person to run the city of Whitewater Police Department,” Olsen said. “Lisa Otterbacher is a fabulous person and has a great head on her shoulders and cares about the city of Whitewater very much.”

Olsen credited his passion for the people of Whitewater and the entire city as his main motivation to continue his service on the council.

“I love Whitewater,” Olsen said. “I love the town, and I love the people and I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t strongly believe in the people around me.”

In the race for District 2, incumbent Javonni Butler, who is a senior at UW-Whitewater, had to run as a write-in because he missed the filing date to be on the ballot. Unofficially, Butler retained his seat on the council with five write-in votes.

In spring 2010, Max Taylor, who was a UW-Whitewater student, won the District 2 election with a total of 10 votes. This year, a total of 800 people voted in Districts 2 and 3 combined.

A total of 2,550 people turned out to vote at the Old Armory near downtown.

Councilmember at-large Marilyn Kienbaum, District 3 Alderman Jim Winship and District 5 Alderman Patrick Singer all ran unopposed in their bids for new terms.

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