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Recall Recall

Long-time county board member Lester Lewis is facing a recall election after a petition reached the threshold number needed to force the vote.

According to County Clerk Andria Farrand, there will be a special election on July 18 for District No. 13 which includes the towns of Molitor, Westboro, and Grover.

Farrand said she has been working closely with the Wisconsin Election Commission since she first learned of the recall petition effort to ensure the county followed the rules set in state law. Under those rules, a recall can be done after the first year of a term and the petition must have at least 25% of the voters in the most recent gubernatorial election. According to Farrand, this put the threshold at 170 signatures. She said the total number of valid signatures on the petition was more than 200.

The recall drive was led by Bill  Clough a town of Grover resident who said he was bothered by how Lewis acted during the Veterans Service meetings and toward former director Shellie Shaw describing him as being arrogant and self centered. He noted that when you have to have law enforcement and the county attorney at a meeting things are bad, “He doesn’t represent the people of the district, he represents Mr. Lewis,” Clough said, describing Lewis as a career politician who has a lot of political pull in the county Clough said a lot of people have opinions, but when it comes to putting their name on paper people back down. Clough said he was not afraid to put his name out there and began circulating the petition on April 15 and within two days had collected signatures from over half the voters in his town. Others circulated papers in Westboro and Molitor.

Clough said he is not a politician and doesn’t want to run for the seat. He said a candidate is circulating papers to get on the ballot and that he will be out canvassing in his town for that candidate.

State election rules are specific when it comes to validation of names on a recall petition. Farrand said she had to invalidate a number of signatures for such things as having incorrect dates.

While Lewis is automatically on the ballot as the incumbent being recalled, challengers have until Wednesday, June 20 at 5 p.m. to bring completed nomination papers to the county clerk’s office. If more than one candidate files to challenge Lewis, the July election will become a primary election and there will be another election in that district in August to determine the winner.

The person who wins the election will serve out the remainder of the county board term which ends in April 2024.

There is a cost to running any election. Farrand estimated the county’s expense in producing the ballots, programing the voting equipment and publications will be about $2,500. In addition, the individual towns will have to pay for poll workers with a minimum of three poll workers at each of the polling places.

Lewis has drawn criticism especially among the veterans community for his work as chair of the veterans service committee, a position he no longer holds. Lewis faced a write-in challenge in 2022 to win reelection to his board seat on a 182 to 65 vote over Ted Obermann.