Spring election yields changes amidst tight finishes, MAPS referendum succeeds
Nearly 6,000 local voters defied the merciless winter storm Tuesday, to weigh in on the 2018 Spring General Election.
As a result, one of two referendums passed, as well as a distinct shuffle of local aldermanic and county supervisory seats. But perhaps the most profound earmark of Tuesday’s election was that of the City of Merrill Mayoral race, as 25-year-old challenger Derek Woellner pulled off an upset victory over two-term incumbent Bill Bialecki by a vote of 1,017 to 938.
City Clerk Bill Heideman secured his sixth term in office Tuesday evening, topping challenger Patricia Lindquist (1,185 to 750).
In terms of referendums, the Merrill Area Public Schools (MAPS) request for a $2.5 million, four-year non-recurring operating referendum garnered voter approval (2,753 to 1,696). At the state level, a referendum requesting the Office of the State Treasurer to be eliminated failed considerably at the hands of Lincoln County voters, (No-3,222; Yes-2,246).
A few new faces will step into city aldermanic seats this spring, as 4th District incumbent Kandy Peterson was defeated in the Feb. 20 primary. Subsequently, candidates Ron McAllister and Steve Osness were in contest for the 4th district seat Tuesday; resulting in a victory for Osness by a near 2-1 margin (173 to 80).
In the city’s 5th District, current council president John Burgener was decisively upended by challenger John Van Lieshout (184 to 71). The 3rd aldermanic district will continue to be represented by Ryan Schwartzman, as he progresses to his fifth term in office. Schwartzman defeated challenger Eric Ott Tuesday evening (104 to 63).
Ron Liberty will become the city’s new Street and Weed Commissioner as of Tuesday; garnering 1,528 votes. Ironically, the position drew the most write-in votes of any local race Tuesday, with 15.
Results were much tighter at the county level.
While 3rd Supervisory District-City of Merrill incumbent Tyler Mueller defeated challenger Ray Bloomer decisively (108 to 71), races for the 10th, 13th and 20th districts each finished with a margin of 20 votes or less.
In the 10th District-Town of Pine River; challenger Jeremy Ratliff inched past two-term incumbent Loretta Baughan by six votes (169 to 163). Similar results were seen with 13th District challenger Calvin Callahan-Towns of Bradley, Somo and Wilson; slipping past incumbent Kirby Crosby (75 to 59). The 20th District-Towns of Russell and Schley; ended in a tight finish as well. Challenger Dora Gorski finished with a narrow four-vote lead over three-term incumbent Carl Vander Sanden (163 to 159).
In the State Supreme Court race, Lincoln County voters once again appeared closely divided; ultimately selecting Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet over Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock (2,888 to 2,763).