SHEBOYGAN - The mayor of Sheboygan has survived one test in his bid to stay in office.
The city held its first ever mayoral recall election on Tuesday. The unofficial results show embattled incumbent mayor Bob Ryan was the leading vote-getter. It appears he will face former State Rep. Terry Van Akkeren in a runoff race next month.
Ryan says he has been sober for about six moths and he is ready to fight to keep his job.
"I'm proud of the job I've done as mayor," said Ryan.
Nearly 4,500 valid petition signatures forced Ryan into a recall election against seven challengers.
Unofficial results show Ryan beat them all, but not by a majority. It means a runoff election will be held on Feb. 21.
It appears Ryan's competition will be a familiar foe in Van Akkeren. Ryan beat out Van Akkeren for Sheboygan mayor in 2009.
"I think what puts us over the top is that people know Bob Ryan. Last time he was a newcomer, relatively new, he only had one year on the common council. Now they know Bob Ryan. They know what distractions he's put," said Van Akkeren.
The mayoral recall effort started last summer, after Ryan confessed to a three-day drinking binge in Elkhart Lake. Ryan is an admitted alcoholic, however, he says his drinking hasn't affected his work and he should be able to keep his job.
"One thing is there is nobody who has said I've done a poor job as the mayor of the city," said Ryan.
Van Akkeren disagrees. He says Ryan has not lived up to his own hype.
"My leadership and stability is going to be what's great for Sheboygan and Sheboygan needs to move forward and put all those distractions behind us," said Van Akkeren.
The winner of next moth's runoff election will serve the remainder of Ryan's term, which ends in April 2013.
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