Four County Board members have decided not to run for re-election in the April 3 election, leaving three of those seats currently without a registered candidate as the Jan. 2 registration deadline to be on the ballot quickly approaches.
District 10 supervisor Tom Reid, District 14 supervisor John Chrest, District 15 supervisor Joe Hunter and District 19 supervisor Danny Iverson have decided not to run for re-election, while the other 15 supervisors have registered to remain on the board.
District 19 is the only district with candidates registered to replace an outgoing supervisor. The candidates for that spot are Ed Chamberlain, who worked for the county for 30-plus years as a mechanic at the Highway Department, and Rebecca Franks, who is the current town clerk for Manchester.
Kyle Deno, Jackson County clerk, said that if no one registers for the other three spots, the county would be looking at a write-in situation for each district.
“After Jan. 2 when the nomination paper situation is done, if you are considering running you should register as a write-in at the county clerk’s office,” Deno said adding that a write-in without registering cannot defeat a registered candidate.
While it is concerning that there are no registered candidates for the three districts, County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ray Ransom said these things usually work themselves out.
“Once people find out that no one is running, there will be a core of people that will get together and write in an individual’s name,” Ransom said noting that to his knowledge there has always been a write-in candidate.
If that doesn’t happen, Ransom said the board will go to local governments and ask if they have any suggestions. The Board of Supervisors could then appoint the person nominated if they accept.
Losing experience on board
Even though 15 supervisors will remain on the board, the four individuals stepping down will be missed because of their vast experience.
“We are losing four really good members in John Chrest, Tom Reid, Danny Iverson and Joe Hunter. They have been effective board members,” Ransom said. “That is a fairly big change when you look at a board of 19 members.”
In 3-term supervisor Chrest, the county board will be losing someone who has vast experience in a county government environment.
“John Chrest was a Health and Human Services Director over in a different county, so he brought so much knowledge of what goes on in counties because he knew it. He knows what is going on in the Health and Human Service world, so that was very helpful,” Deno said.
Chrest was also the Zoning Committee Chairman, so his post will need to be replaced.
“When you lose a chairman on any committee, then there will be a movement on that committee to elect a new chair,” Ransom said.
Chrest said that if he didn’t need more flexibility in his life to travel, he would be running for county board again next term. For his successor, he had some parting words of wisdom.
“Take some time to get to know how things operate and why things operate the way they do before you try to make a lot of changes,” Chrest said. “Remember that the whole purpose of the county board is to provide services to the people and that is the reason that it exists.”
Besides serving as the Zoning Committee Chairman, Chrest was also on the Forestry Committee and Health and Human Services Committee.
Joe Hunter, 3-term supervisor, will be sorely missed for his financial prowess.
“His background was in financial things, and I think that’s what his strong point was to bring to the board. He was also on Health and Human Services board and to be able to keep track and know where the money was going was important,” Deno said adding that Hunter was a past Black River Falls mayor so he had a vast knowledge of government as well.
Hunter suggests that being on the county board is important for anyone that wants to make a difference.
“I think anytime you can definitely improve things, you should definitely go for that in any community,” Hunter said.
Hunter also warns that being in county government takes a lot of time.
“They should go to a county board meeting, and they should understand that there are a lot of subcommittees and you better have a lot of time on your hands because it is going to take a lot of evenings,” Hunter said adding that he expects he spends 20-30 hours a month in meetings.
Hunter served on the Bonds Committee, Aging and Nutrition Advisory Committee, Health and Human Services Board and Property Committee.
Iverson was on the board for three terms and brought knowledge from his personal experience as a logger.
“Even though he could never be on forestry because he is a logger, I think he still brought some good insight with questions at the county board with different things happening with forestry,” Deno said.
Iverson was also a past town chairman, so he was a logical person for the Highway Committee.
“Highway I think was a very good fit because he was very knowledgeable about different trucks and roads because he was a town chairman, so you get that part about building roads,” Deno said.
Besides the Highway Committee, Iverson served on the Property Committee, Large Assembly, Land Information Council and Board of Adjustment.
Reid served on the county board for one term, and in that time helped out during the courtroom addition while on the Property Committee.
“He brought some knowledge in on furniture and things when we were building the new courtroom,” Deno said.
Reid also served on the Airport Commission, Extension and Education Committee and Land Conservation and Agriculture Committee.
“Tom Reid was a very educated and sharp individual on the issues that he worked on,” Ransom said.
After the election
With the recent departures being full of significant experience, Ransom expects future elections to have similar effects moving forward.
“We’ve had a fairly strong board here for a number of years and it has a lot of experience on it too. As I see things happening here this next couple of years, probably we are going to have some more people that are running this year, but maybe won’t be running the next time around,” Ransom said.
After the election, an organizational meeting will take place to elect the chair and first and second vice chair for the County Board of Supervisors. Those three will then make the assignments to the committees.
“There will be some significant changes,” Ransom said with losing a committee chairman. “We will do the best we can to put them back on similar committees because they have background experience.”
All of the supervisors for the 15 other districts have submitted their registration paperwork and currently have no challengers.