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April 7 election still on as state copes with coronavirus spread

Amidst ever-changing directives and discussions about possible spring election postponements in Madison, Clark County and local election officials are planning for mostly-usual April 7 balloting procedures. Precautions will be taken at polling places to help contain possible COVID-19 spread, but otherwise, polls will be open as usual from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. and residents who have not yet cast absentee or in-person ballots will be welcome.

Clark County Clerk Christina Jensen said Tuesday afternoon that Gov. Tony Evers’ office had not taken any action to postpone the April 7 election. There was talk last week, she said, of either postponing the date or extending the timeframe for absentee ballots to be extended, but that has not happened. As of Tuesday, Jensen said, local clerks were planning for voting as usual on April 7 and collecting a heavy influx of absentee and in-person ballots.

Items on this spring’s ballot include the presidential primary, a race for Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, a revenue cap exemption referendum in the Greenwood School District, and an array of local elections for county, city, village and school district seats, Clerks in the county’s 45 municipalities had sent out more than 1,700 absentee ballots as of Tuesday morning, Jensen said, which is an unusually high number as voters attempt to get their votes in without having to visit the public polling places next Tuesday. Jensen said 10,230 county ballots were cast in the county in the 2016 presidential primary election, but crowds at polling places are expected to be considerably thinner this year due to the virus threat and the number of people voting early.

“I’m guessing they’ll be lucky if 50 percent of their voters turn out,” Jensen said.

Local clerks are reporting strong absentee and inperson voting numbers to date. In Loyal, Clerk Shannon Toufar said she has already sent out 160 absentee ballots, including about 25 on Tuesday alone. In Greenwood, more than 100 residents had either come in to city hall to vote early or had requested absentee ballots. Spencer Village Administrator Paul Hensch said he had sent out 182 absentee ballots as of Tuesday.

Clerks will continue to take those as long as possible. Absentee ballot requests are needed soon, as clerks must get them in the mail by Thursday in order for citizens to complete them and mail them back by election day.

In Greenwood, residents can vote in-person either Thursday or Friday before 4:30 p.m. The final deadline for in-person voting in Spencer is 5 p.m. on Friday. The situation is a bit different in Loyal, as City Hall is closed this week due to the virus threat. Toufar can be reached at the city office phone at 715-255-8772 and will arrange to meet residents for in-person voting, through Friday at 5 p.m.

Toufar said City Hall is expected to be reopened by Tuesday for residents to cast ballots in the usual polling place. If that changes, voting would take place either at St. Anthony Catholic Church Hall or the American Legion, Toufar said, and signs will be posted at City Hall.

Hensch said he expects turn-out to be lower than usual on April 7, but precautions are still being taken. There will be separate entrance and exit doors at the Spencer Municipal Building to avoide congestion, sneeze guards are being put in place to separate poll workers from voters, residents will take the pens with which they vote home with them to avoid re-use, and poll workers will be sanitizing the site throughout the day.

Following is an overview of local election races.

City of Greenwood

Mayor Jim Schecklman is unopposed for a new 2-year term, as are city Council members Tracy Nelson (atlarge seat) and Ryan Ashbeck.

City of Loyal

Only incumbents are seeking seats on the Loyal City Council. In Ward 1, Tim Froeba and Dave Geier are candidates for new 2-year terms, and Curtis Lindner is running to fill the remainder of the term to which he was appointed last year. In Ward 2, incumbents Tom Bobrofsky and Matthew Prein are running unopposed for new terms.

Village of Spencer

Three Spencer Village Board seats are up for reelection, and there are three candidates for them. Two of them — Allen Jicinsky and Harry Toufar — are incumbents, while Patrick Krause is a newcomer. Incumbent Jerry Wienke is not running for a new term.

Village of Granton

One seat is up on the Granton Village Board this year, and incumbent Russell Kuehn is the lone candidate for it.

Loyal School District

Two Loyal incumbents are running unopposed in the April 7 election, while one seat will be decided by write-in votes. Incumbent Tom Odeen (area south of Highway 98) is unopposed for a new 3-year term, while Harlan Hinkelmann (area north of Highway 98) is unopposed to finish the last year of the 3-year term to which he was appointed in 2019.

Incumbent Board President Dan Zimmerman (representing the city of Loyal) is not seeking re-election, and no candidates file by the January deadline to have their names placed on April ballots. Two write-in candidates — Kim Bremmer and Kevin Klimpke — have notified the district of their intent to run as write-ins.

Greenwood School District

Incumbent Mark Shain is unopposed for a new 3-year term.

Granton School District

Incumbent Doug Eichten will run unopposed for a new 3-year Board term. Fellow incumbent John Richmond is not seeking re-election. Cheryl Steinbach is the lone candidate for his seat.

Spencer School District

Two incumbents are seeking re-election to 3-year terms in Spencer, and a challenger is also on the ballot for one of the spots. Incumbents Jodi Hebert and Shawn Lyon are both on the ballot for new terms for the rural area of the district, and Joe Burnett joins them. The two top vote-getters among the three will win Board seats.

Clark County Board

All 29 members of the Clark County Board of Supervisors are up for re-election this spring. For a complete list, see the ballot insert in this week’s issue.

All area polling places will be open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

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