Janesville57.4°
SPECIAL SECTION

Big election, low turnout expected Tuesday

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Frank Schultz
August 10, 2014

Tuesday's elections are undoubtedly among the most interesting and probably the most important in decades, at least in Rock County.

Nevertheless, estimates are that a small number of voters will determine the outcomes.

Voters in the Democratic Party primary will decide who will be Rock County's sheriff.

Incumbent Sheriff Robert Spoden and challenger Gary Groelle are both running as Democrats, and no one is running from any other party.

Walworth County voters have a similar situation on the Republican side.

Two Republicans, Deputy Ken Brauer and Undersheriff Kurt Picknell, are running for Walworth County sheriff. The victor Tuesday is more than likely to be the next sheriff.

Voters unaccustomed to voting in primaries be warned: You may vote in the Democratic Party's primary, or you may vote in the Republican Party's primary, but you may not vote in both.

Voters also will decide the Democrats' choice for replacing state Sen. Tim Cullen. Cullen is retiring from the 15th Senate District seat, which represents Janesville, Milton, Edgerton, Whitewater and other parts of Rock, Walworth, Green, Dane and Jefferson counties.

Three Democrats are vying to replace Cullen: Assembly Rep. Janis Ringhand from Evansville, Austin Scieszinski of Janesville and former Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan of Janesville.

Tuesday's ballot includes a non-primary vote in most of Rock and Green counties that will affect tax bills. It's a referendum to give Blackhawk Technical College permission to increase its tax levy for operational expenses.

A “yes” vote would allow the college to exceed its current revenue cap by $4 million in the coming year and every year thereafter.

Some concern has been expressed that in Rock County, the referendum question comes at the end of the two-sided ballot and that voters might neglect to vote because they won't turn their ballots over.

Also on the ballot in Beloit, Evansville, Brodhead and other parts of western Rock County and eastern Green County is a Democratic primary to choose a new 45th Assembly District representative.

Democrats vying for the 45th Assembly nomination are Sheila De Forest and Mark Spreitzer, both Beloit City Council members. Again, the winner is likely to prevail in the November general election.

Rock County voters in the Democratic primary will choose among three candidates to replace retiring Clerk of Courts Eldred Mielke.

The clerk of courts candidates are Jacki Gackstatter, Sue Enloe and Peter Severson. No Republican is running for clerk of courts.

Voters also have choices in the Republican and Democratic primaries for the 1st District congressional race.

Incumbent Republican Paul Ryan of Janesville faces an unlikely challenger in Jeremy Ryan of Madison—no relation.

On the Democratic side, Rob Zerban of Kenosha, who lost to Ryan in 2012, faces a challenge from Amar Kakeka of Franklin.

The Government Accountability Board forecasts a turnout of 15 percent statewide. Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler predicts 16 percent to 18 percent.



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