The spring election season is under way.
Candidates could begin filing nomination papers Dec. 1, and this spring, all 11 county board seats will be up for a vote. As of this week, at least two will be contested.
In District 6, Paul Fisher, an Elkhorn resident and gun-rights advocate, has filed nomination papers to oppose incumbent Kathy Ingersoll. In District 8, former Delavan City Council member John Finley has filed papers to oppose incumbent Daniel Kilkenny.
Incumbents Rick Stacey, Jerry Grant, Jim Brandl and Nancy Russell also have submitted their nomination papers to the Walworth County clerk’s office.
The rest of the candidates have until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3, to file their nomination papers.
Judge Robert Kennedy’s decision to not seek re-election has begun a cascade of announcements. Walworth County District Attorney Phil Koss declared his intention to seek the judge’s seat. That opened the way for Rock County Assistant District Attorney Richard Sullivan to throw his hat in the ring for the district attorney job in Walworth County.
These local elections will in many ways be intertwined with the potential recall of Gov. Scott Walker.
Organizers have until Jan. 17 to collect more than a half a million signatures to force a vote.
But if we’ve learned anything over the past year, the most important question to ask a candidate is not what, but how.
The difference in the two questions could possibly have spared the voters of Wisconsin an expensive recall election.
Walker was clear from the beginning about the what.
When he stood in the old fire station in Delavan in April 2009 to announce he was running for governor, he made it clear that the state budget needed to be fixed and that he intended to rein in government spending.
What he never said, however, was how he would do it. It’s a strategy that politicians have used forever, and it can frustrate voters trying to make a thoughtful decision.
Imagine where we’d be if Walker would have revealed the details of his budget repair bill early in the campaign.
There’s no way to know for sure, but here’s one scenario:
Would Walker be our governor today? Most likely.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker’s Democratic opponent, never seemed like his heart was in it. Instead, he seemed to be running out of obligation to his party rather than a vision for the state.
Could Walker have won concessions from the unions on pension and health care? He certainly got the union’s attention early on.
Could he have succeeded in dismantling public employee unions? Not likely. Perhaps there could have been — dare we say — compromise?
In any case, decisions flow downhill, and after the state tidied up its budget, local municipalities and school boards were forced to pick up the pieces.
Now asking a candidate how, and getting them to give you a straight answer are two different things.
But if the past year has taught us anything, that’s the question that really needs to be asked.
Note to candidates: As we continue our coverage throughout the election season, remember to send your campaign news to us by emailing email@example.com.