The Year of Local Government Involvement

Almost half of all Door County municipalities have contested races for the upcoming spring election

The April 4 election will be dominated by races for local offices, with voters electing the people who populate city, village and town boards and have the most immediate impact on local communities and residents. 

The filing deadline to run for one of these seats was Jan. 3. Of Door County’s 19 municipalities, eight drew multiple candidates who are interested in serving. Not only will voters in these municipalities have a choice on April 4, but four of these municipalities will also need to hold a primary on Feb. 21 to narrow the field of candidates.

This isn’t a typical outcome. Local governments are generally fortunate if they can simply find enough people to fill available seats. For example, the last time the municipal elections were held in 2021, no primaries were necessary, and only three municipalities – Gardner, Union and Washington – had even one contested race.

This year, Gardner, Gibraltar, Nasewaupee and Sister Bay will all hold primaries. In addition, Baileys Harbor, the Town of Forestville, Liberty Grove and Washington all have contested races.

Municipalities Holding a Primary Election

Some local seats drew so many candidates that a primary will be necessary on Feb. 21 to reduce the number of people on the ballot. The local governments with a primary are as follows.

• Town of Gardner

Primary for supervisory seat, race for chair and open constable spot 

Three seats are up for election on the five-member Gardner Town Board, and all three have a race, one of those triggering a primary election. Incumbent chair Carl Waterstreet is being challenged by Paul DeWitt. Incumbent Supervisor 1, Glen Merkle, is being challenged by Keitha McDonald; and three people – incumbent Mark Lentz, Mike Marchant and Gary Schaeffer – want the Supervisor 3 seat, triggering the need for a primary. 

Both incumbent clerk Amy Sacotte and incumbent treasurer Nancy Robillard are running uncontested. David Laluya, the current constable, is not running for reelection, and no one else has filed for the seat. 

• Town of Gibraltar

Primary for supervisory seats, race for chair

Five people are running for two supervisor seats, triggering the need for a primary to eliminate one of the five. The candidates are incumbents Brian Merkel and Karl Stubenvoll, plus newcomers Vinni Chomeau, Thomas M. Birmingham and John Selenica. 

Incumbent chair Steve Sohns is being challenged for his seat by incumbent supervisor Bill Johnson. Johnson’s seat is not up for election this year, so if he wins, the board will need to appoint someone to his seat. 

• Town of Nasewaupee

In May of this year, the Nasewaupee Town Board expanded its board size from three to five by going from two to four supervisors – a change that will be effective for the April 2023 election. 

Mark Hilsabeck, Bill Krueger and Mike Martell filed for the Supervisor 1 seat, and Lance Brolin, Mark Feuerstein, George Sincock and incumbent supervisor Don Sixel Jr. filed for the Supervisor 2 seat. For both of these seats, a primary will be held to narrow the field to two candidates each. 

Voters will also have a choice in the Supervisor 3 seat, with both Gene LaPlante and Tim Smith running for that position.

The former Supervisor 1 seat is now the new Supervisor 4 seat. Former Supervisor 1 incumbent Dennis Rimert is not running for reelection, and Jill M. Lau will run uncontested for that Supervisor 4 seat.

Also running uncontested is incumbent town board chair Steve Sullivan.

• Village of Sister Bay

Seven people have filed for three open trustee positions: Patrice Champeau, Nick Deviley, Vivian Nienow, Lilly Orozco, Andrew Torcivia, Alison Werner and Sarah White. These seven candidates will be narrowed to six during the primary election.

Incumbent village president Rob Zoschke is being challenged by incumbent trustee Nate Bell.

Two incumbent trustees – Scott Baker and Chad Kodanko – are not running for reelection.

A fourth trustee seat opened in December when Mary Lyons had to resign because she moved out of the village. The board has not yet appointed someone to serve the remainder of her term.

Municipalities with Contested Races

Some local seats drew more than one candidate, giving voters a choice during the April 4 election. The local governments that have races, but not enough candidates to warrant a primary, are as follows. 

• Town of Baileys Harbor

Incumbent town board chair Don Sitte is being challenged by Dave Eliot. Incumbent supervisors Peter Jacobs and Roberta Thelen are running unopposed, as is town constable Mark Merrill.

• Town of Forestville

Open supervisor seat

Two people are running for the town chair position: Kevin J. Guilette and Larry Huber. Incumbent chair Roy Englebert is not running for another term.

Incumbent supervisor Jason Tlachac is running unopposed, and no one is running for the other supervisor seat that’s currently held by Larry Huber. Incumbent town clerk Ruth Kerscher and incumbent town treasurer Dena Schmidt are running unopposed.

• Town of Liberty Grove

Incumbent town board chair John Lowry is being challenged by Janet Johnson, while incumbent supervisors Nancy Goss and Cathy Ward are running unopposed.

• Town of Washington

Four candidates are running for two supervisor seats: incumbent supervisor Martin Anderson and newcomers Margaret Foss, John Jessen and Valerie Carpenter.

Incumbent town board chair Hans Lux is running unopposed. Incumbent supervisor Richard Tobey is not running for reelection.

Municipalities with No Contests

• Town of Brussels

Incumbent town board chair Joe Wautier is running unopposed, as are incumbent supervisors Mark Marchant and Joel Daoust. The incumbent clerk, treasurer and constable are also running unopposed: JoAnn Neinas, Lois Maedke and Matt Phillips, respectively.

• Town of Clay Banks

Open treasurer’s seat

Incumbent town board chair Myron (Mike) Johnson is running uncontested, as are incumbent supervisors Mark Heimbecher and Patrick Olson, and incumbent clerk Jessica Bongle. Incumbent treasurer Candace Kolstad is no longer running, and no one has filed for the seat. 

• Town of Egg Harbor

Town board incumbent chair Paul Peterson is running unopposed, as are incumbent supervisors Elizabeth Gauger and Dale Wiegand. 

• Village of Egg Harbor

Incumbent president John Heller and incumbent trustees Cambria Mueller and Angela Lensch are all running unopposed.

• Village of Ephraim

Incumbent president Mike McCutcheon is running unopposed. Trustee Cindy Nelson is not running for another term, leaving newcomer Carly Mulliken and incumbent trustee Ken Nelson running for two trustee positions. 

• Village of Forestville 

Incumbent village board president Terry McNulty is running unopposed, as are incumbent trustees Jessica Koskubar and Daniel Merkle.

• Town of Jacksonport

Incumbent town board chair Tom Wilson is running unopposed, as are incumbent supervisors Renn Jervis and Theresa Cain-Bieri.

• Town of Sevastopol

Incumbent town board chair Dan Woelfel is running unopposed, as are incumbent supervisors Mark Haen and Linda Wait.

• City of Sturgeon Bay

Four alderperson seats on the eight-member council are up for election, with incumbent alders Helen Bacon, District 1; Dan Williams, District 3; Gary Nault, District 5; and Kirsten Reeths, District 7, all running unopposed.

• Town of Union

Incumbent town board chair Bruce Alberts is running unopposed, as is incumbent supervisor Jeff LeGrave and candidate Matthew Tassoul. 

Current Supervisor 1 Brian Renard filed for noncandidacy.

Town clerk Beth Hanson and town treasurer Denise Englebert are also running unopposed. 

School District Races 

For the first time in a number of years, none of Door County’s five school districts drew enough candidates to warrant a primary election, and neither are there any contests on any of the school boards, with just enough candidates running to fill the open seats.

By comparison, eight candidates vied for three seats in 2021 on the Gibraltar School Board, and both the Sturgeon Bay and Southern Door school boards had contested races.

Below are the candidates who have filed to serve on local school boards for this year’s election.

• Gibraltar School Board

Four seats are up for election on the seven-member board, with two of those seats for three-year terms and two of those for one-year terms.

Four candidates have filed for the four seats: incumbents Karen Nordahl and Jeremy Schwab, and candidates Kari Baumann and Drew Richmond. The top two vote-getters will get the three-year terms, the bottom two the one-year terms. 

Incumbents Luca Fagundes and Stephen Seyfer are not running for reelection. 

• Sevastopol School Board

Two seats on the seven-member board are up for election, with incumbents Richard Weidman and Gerald Worrick running uncontested for their seats.

• Sturgeon Bay School Board

Three seats on the nine-member board are up for election, with incumbents Scott Alger and Tina Jennerjohn running uncontested, and new candidate Allison Haus running uncontested for the seat that will be vacated by incumbent Jessica Holland, who filed a declaration of noncandidacy.

• Southern Door School Board

Three seats on the seven-member board are up for election, with incumbents Marissa Norton and Kim Starr running uncontested, and new candidate Sam Kounard running uncontested for the seat that will be vacated by Pamela Parks, who filed a declaration of noncandidacy. 

• Washington Island Board of Education

Only one seat is up for election on the five-member board, and that incumbent, Sara Sorensen, is not running for election. Candidate Terry Foster will run uncontested for that seat.

–Myles Dannhausen Jr. and Sam Watson contributed to this report