Former council president Schwartzman explains recent resignation
As of Sunday, Aug. 26, six-term 3rd District Alderman and recently elected Common Council President Ryan Schwartzman, announced an unexpected resignation effective immediately. Via email to Mayor Derek Woellner, Schwartzman did not give much detail as to his resignation, stating:
I am resigning from my elected position of Third District Alderman, effective immediately, due to personal issues. It has been both a privilege and a pleasure serving my district and the City of Merrill. I want to thank everyone both elected and appointed for helping me make Merrill the best that it can be. I wish the best to you, Mayor Woellner and the City Council going forward.
The abrupt announcement left many questions unanswered in the community.
This week however, Schwartzman reached out to the Merrill Foto News for an exclusive interview to discuss details of his resignation.
“First, my email (to Mayor Woellner) should have stated: ‘personal reasons’ rather than ‘personal issues’,” the 39-year-old father of three begins. “My main reason for resigning was a realization that with two of our children now in school (Cooper, First Grade and Renlee, Pre-K) that the only time I would have with them was at night, when most meetings happen. When I first ran in 2010, my wife Stephanie and I were in our first year of marriage. We didn’t have children at the time. Over the years, Cooper was born, then Renlee and now our son Wyatt is approaching two years old. I had this realization that if I stayed on the Council even for the remainder of this term, that I would be missing out on a lot of time with them, and school events. I am not and will not be ‘that father’ that isn’t around and puts other items before his family.”
Schwartzman first took the city’s Third District seat in 2010, defeating incumbent Ray Bloomer 152-72. He retained the seat unopposed through three terms, until this past April when he was challenged by Eric Ott. Schwartzman would prevail in the Spring General Election 104-63. Schwartzman would go on to be appointed Council President by fellow aldermen at the council’s organizational meeting in April; replacing former president John Burgener who was defeated in the spring election (184-71) by John Van Lieshout.
“Being elected Council President was an honor,” Ryan explains. “I believe that the person who holds that office, really makes it into what they want. I wanted to use it to unify the Council and create a positive dialog between the Council and the Mayor. The reason I first ran for the aldermanic seat, was the same reason that I ran every year, and one of the motivating factors in every decision that I made whether at the committee or council level. I wanted to do what was best for Merrill and to help the community grow, in the best manner possible. I have been and always will be ‘Merrill Positive!’ I love Merrill and anyone who speaks with me for any length of time will figure that out pretty fast.
“Not everyone has agreed with all of the decisions that have been made over the years,” he added, “and I truly believe that they want the best for Merrill also. But I always weighed the positive and negative and I strived to make an effort to speak with people for feedback.”
As for the future, Schwartzman may be stepping aside from his aldermanic role, but intends to remain involved in community affairs.
“I am still on the city’s Joint Board of Review as a citizen member. If an opportunity presented itself, I would like to be appointed to the city’s Redevelopment Authority (RDA) as a citizen member,” he said. “I am currently on the Board of Directors for the Historical Society and plan on spending more time there. I am also part of a local gaming group that meets twice a week and puts on the Board Wars game conventions. I am young enough that I see this as more of a break from an elected office, instead of a retirement. I will run for something in the future, I just don’t know what that would be or when that would be.”
Schwartzman cites the ability to serve the community as an alderman, and witness growth within the community as the most meaningful aspects of his tenure.
“Serving as Third District Alderman for as long as I have, has been an honor,” he said. “I was not able to join the military because I have Crohn’s Disease; an autoimmune disease which automatically disqualified me from service. I wanted to give back to my community and country. Being elected to serve on the City Council and then in 2014, the County Board, allowed me to fulfill that goal. Merrill has come a long way from when I was first elected in 2010. The city is just starting to see the benefit from years of work. Creating the new industrial park, taking control of the Fairgrounds/Festival grounds, working with existing businesses to expand, attracting new business and eliminating blighted buildings; are all factors in a more positive, progressive Merrill. I hope that future city councils and Mayors will continue to expand upon what is working for Merrill.”