April 4 Spring Election results
BY TINA L. SCOTT
In the Lincoln County Spring General election on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, the majority of Lincoln County voters leaned conservative, in contrast to the cumulative statewide results.
Race for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice
The entire nation was watching Wisconsin’s Supreme Court election results, and in fact, a large percentage of the money invested in the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice came from outside of Wisconsin, leading many to question whether state politics are really and truly being decided by state residents these days or the influence of big money. Liberal candidate Janet Protasiewicz and conservative candidate Daniel Kelly faced off in the most expensive Supreme Court election in the United States to date, topping more than $42 million invested in the election. While the election of a Supreme Court Justice is officially a non-partisan election, clear lines were drawn on many issues that closely mirrored the policies advocated for by specific political parties.
In the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, Janet Protasiewicz won the election statewide with 55.5% of the vote. But that wasn’t the case with Lincoln County voters.
In Lincoln County, 49.05% (8,603 of the County’s 17,541 registered voters) cast their ballot either in advance or on election day.
Of those who voted in the Supreme Court race, 57.23% (4,869) of the 8,508 votes cast in the County voted for Daniel Kelly, while 42.42% (3,609) of the voters selected Protasiewicz.
While the voters in the majority of Wisconsin’s 72 counties agreed with Lincoln County voters, with the majority of the residents in those counties also voting for Kelly, the majority of the voters in just 27 counties in Wisconsin (Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Door, Menominee, Brown, Outagamie, Winnebago, Portage, Piece, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, LaCrosse, Vernon, Crawford, Richland, Sauk, Columbia, Dane, Iowa, Grant, Lafayette, Green, Rock, Kenosha, and Milwaukee Counties) voted for Protasiewicz, for a total of 55.5% (1,021,370) of overall voters selecting her on the ballot, as opposed to only 44.5% (818,286) of voters casting votes for Kelly. The 27 counties that leaned liberal included 8 of Wisconsin’s 10 most populated cities–Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, Appleton, Eau Claire, Janesville, and Oshkosh.
Contested Lincoln County municipal races
The following candidates were the winners in Lincoln County’s contested municipal races.
• Corning Town Board Supervisor: Chad Kottke and Greg Kleinschmidt emerged the two winners of the race for two Town Board Supervisor positions, garnering 192 votes (38.95%) and 150 votes (30.43% of the votes), respectively. They defeated Jon Weiler who got 79 votes (16.02%) and Todd Luedtke who got 72 votes (14.60%).
• Harding Town Board Chairperson: Michael R. Hornischer won this election with 97 votes (55.11%), defeating Mike Ellsworth who had 79 votes (44.89%).
• Harding Town Board Supervisor: Jason Ament and Darrell Oestreich won the two Town Board Supervisor positions, getting 107 votes (33.86%) and 103 votes (32.59%), respectively. They defeated John Tomajcik Sr. who got 55 votes (17.41%) and Steven Plautz who got 49 votes (15.51%).
• King Town Board Supervisor: Andy Tomaszewski and David Dyer won the two open Town Board Supervisor positions, getting 229 votes (38.10%) and 203 votes (33.78%), respectively. They defeated Mark Martello who got 165 votes (27.45).
• King Town Clerk: Georgene Linden was elected Town Clerk with 188 votes (54.18%), defeating Amanda West who received 159 votes (45.82%).
• Merrill Town Board Chairperson: Michael Hass was elected Town Board Chairperson, receiving 603 votes (74.44%), defeating Cutler Nowak who received 183 votes (22.59%).
• Merrill Town Board Supervisor: Darrel Dengel and Mathew Leder were elected to two Town Board Supervisor positions, with 473 votes (36.72%) and 422 votes (32.76%), respectively. They defeated Rick Neumann who received 383 votes (29.74%).
• Rock Falls Town Board Supervisor: George Alery and Kurt Niersel were elected to two Town Board Supervisor positions, receiving 134 votes (35.45%) and 126 votes (33.33%), respectively. They defeated Bryon Gleisner who had 118 votes (31.22%).
• Rock Falls Town Clerk: Diane Chambers was elected Town Clerk with 156 votes (66.67%), defeating Kelly Gleisner who got 77 votes (32.91%).
• Russell Town Board Supervisor: Lori Studinski and Nathan Roggenbuck were elected to two Town Board Supervisor positions, with just one vote separating Roggenbuck and the candidate with the next most votes, proving that every vote counted in this election. Studinski received 110 votes (33.95%) and Roggenbuck received 75 votes (23.15%), while Marty Sosnovske received 74 votes (22.84%) and Ivan Dorgan got 64 votes (19.75%).
• Schley Town Board Chairperson: Timothy Klimek was elected Town Board Chairperson with 233 votes (73.04%), defeating Kelly Collins who received 86 votes (26.96%).
• Schley Town Board Supervisor: Craig Brown and Gerald Plamann were elected to two Town Board Supervisor positions, receiving 166 votes (31.98%) and 149 votes (28.71%), respectively. They defeated Tony Dallman who received 123 votes (23.70%) and Cody Bergman who received 81 votes (15.61%).
• Scott Town Board Chairperson: Ronald Lemmer was elected Town Board Chairperson with 297 votes (64.29%), defeating Mike Woller who got 165 votes (35.71%).
• Scott Town Board Supervisor: Gerald Engel and Randy Detert were elected to two Town Board Supervisor positions, receiving 307 votes (38.18%) and 279 votes (34.70%), respectively. They defeated Mike Woller who got 136 votes (16.92%) and Brett Woller who got 81 votes (10.07%).
The other races in the April 4, 2023, election were all unopposed, including the races for school board for Merrill Area Public School District, Rhinelander School District, and Prentice School District, except that in the Town of Spirit, Darrel Pierson got 24 votes (63.16%), defeating Jesse Rhody who got 14 votes (36.84%).
Referendum questions on the ballot
In response to referendum Question 1: “Conditions of release before conviction. Shall section 8 (2) of article I of the constitution be amended to allow a court to impose on an accused person being released before conviction conditions that are designed to protect the community from serious harm?”
By a two-thirds majority, Lincoln County voters said “yes,” with 5,441 yes votes (66.95%) and 2,686 no votes (33.05%). This closely mirrored statewide results where 66.5% of voters said yes and 33.5% of voters said no.
In response to referendum Question 2: “Cash bail before conviction. Shall section 8 (2) of article I of the constitution be amended to allow a court to impose cash bail on a person accused of a violent crime based on the totality of the circumstances, including the accused’s previous convictions for a violent crime, the probability that the accused will fail to appear, the need to protect the community from serious harm and prevent witness intimidation, and potential affinitive defenses?”
By more than a two-thirds majority, Lincoln County voters said “yes,” with 5,750 yes votes (70.27%) and 2,433 no votes (29.73%). This was a slightly more definitive stance than the statewide results, but statewide the measure also passed by a two-thirds majority, with 67.6% voting yes and 32.4% voting no.
Gov. Evers signs amendments to Wisconsin State Constitution
In response to the overwhelming majority of Wisconsin voters favoring the proposed amendments to section 8 (2) of article I of the Wisconsin State Constitution as it relates to conditions for release of those accused of a crime, prior to conviction, including bail, Gov. Tony Evers on April 5, 2023, signed Senate Bill 75, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 3, which modifies the pretrial release and bail statutes in order to implement the proposed constitutional amendment that was ratified via the statewide referendum on the April 2023 ballot.
“…The people of Wisconsin approved a companion constitutional amendment to change our state’s bail policies, and while I’m signing this bill … consistent with the will of the people, I also want to be clear that these changes alone will not solve the challenges facing our justice system,” said Gov. Evers. “Reforming our justice system to make our communities safer must be a top priority, and I believe we can find common ground. I call on the Legislature to join me in supporting evidence-based solutions that respect and protect victims and survivors, reduce recidivism, bolster our justice system workforce, and ensure our communities have the resources they need to invest in public safety services, including police, fire, and EMS.”
Advisory referendum question
Question 3 on the ballot read: “Shall able-bodied, childless adults be required to look for work in order to receive taxpayer-funded welfare benefits?”
Lincoln County residents overwhelmingly voted “yes” to this question, with 7,242 voting yes (87.13%) and only 1,070 voting no (12.87%).
Statewide, the majority 79.5% of voters also voted yes, with just 20.5% voting no.
This question, however, was just an advisory question to gauge public response and the results have no effect on current welfare guidelines or programs.