Voters had plenty of opportunities to help shape the future of their communities, regions and state in 2018.
The election season officially began in late December 2017 when 1st District Sen. Frank Lasee stepped down from the elected position to accept a post in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration. Rather than having a successor elected in the already scheduled April 3 election, Walker intended to leave the seat open until November – that is, until three separate judges ordered that a special election be held. Voters may have remembered Walker’s reluctance for fair representation when he attempted to win a third term in November.
In the April 3 election, Door County voters overwhelmingly supported Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Dallet rather than Walker appointee Judge Michael Screnock. Door County also rejected a state referendum to eliminate the office of state treasurer.
The nature of the Sturgeon Bay Common Council was changed significantly in the spring election when two longtime aldermen were ousted by policial newcomers, with Stewart Fett losing by 11 votes to Seth Wiederanders in the 6th District and Richard Wiesner losing by 48 votes to Kelly Avenson.
Sturgeon Bay voters also overwhelmingly approved – 1,461 to 628 – a referendum to institute a Premier Resort Area Tax to pay for infrastructure expenses.
In late March, Walker was under court order to call special elections in the 1st Senate District and the 42nd Assembly District (where another Republican went to work in the Walker administration). The election was set for June 12. Door County Economic Development Director Caleb Frostman threw his hat in the ring as a Democrat, as did DePere Assemblyman Andre Jacque as a Republican. However, Jacque apparently was not well liked in the legislature, which became apparent when five current legislators and two former legislators backed 24-year-old political newcomer Alex Renard, who reportedly moved into the district just a month before those legislators promoted him as “the most capable candidate.”
In the May 15 primary, Jacque beat Renard by a little more than 300 votes; then he and Frostman faced off in the June special election, which Frostman won. The two faced off again in November, and Jacque is now the 1st District’s senator-elect.
Next up was the Aug. 14 partisan primary, in which state School Superintendent Tony Evers crushed a large field of Democratic candidates to take on Gov. Walker in November.
On Nov. 6, Door County voters chose Tammy Sternard as the next Door County Sheriff rather than Deputy Sheriff Pat McCarty.
Republican Assemblyman Joel Kitchens easily defeated Baileys Harbor Town Supervisor Roberta Thelen, who ran as an independent.
Voters in three school districts – Gibraltar, Sevastopol and Southern Door – overwhelmingly approved capital and operating referenda.
In addition to ousting Gov. Walker, Door County and Wisconsin voters opted for a change of attorney general as well, choosing Democrat Josh Kaul – son of the state’s first female attorney general, the late Peg Lautenschlager – rather than Republican Brad Schimel, who had been ensnared in controversy and questionable emphasis on party politics rather than state legal issues.