Poll workers

Poll workers at the city of Tomah Fire Station organize ballots after a day of heavy turnout.

The top of the ticket in Wisconsin went for the Democrats, but Monroe County voters stuck with Republicans in their choices for state Assembly Tuesday.

Tomah Republican Nancy VanderMeer easily won re-election to a third term in the 70th District, while Republican Tony Kurtz of Wonewoc cruised to victory in the open 50th District seat left open by retiring Republican Ed Brooks Reedsburg.

In the 96th Assembly District, considered one of the Democrats’ best chances to flip a seat after incumbent Republican Lee Nerison of Westby retired, Republican Loren Oldenberg secured a narrow victory over Viroqua Democrat Paul Buhr.

VanderMeer defeated Democrat Cari Fay, who works as a health services assistant administrator and mediator for Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Health. VanderMeer won Monroe County by 2,800 votes and won the city of Tomah 1,884-1,231.

During the campaign, VanderMeer stressed her “rural initiative” designed to boost rural education, health care and infrastructure.

In the 96th, Oldenburg’s margin of victory came from the Tomah portion of the district, which gave him a 1,053-vote advantage over Buhr.

Buhr carried the rest of the district by 282 votes.

Oldenburg, president of the Chaseburg Cenex Cooperative and past president and board member of the Westby Cooperative Creamery, co-owns a business with his wife Linda, “The Happy Canvas by Linda.”

He had acknowledged during an interview before the election that he might have to change his ag business model if he won — probably dropping dairy and shifting totally to crop farming.

“It will be a change of lifestyle,” Oldenburg said. “When I decided to run back in March, it was an emotional decision. Dairy cows have been in my family for 140 years, and that very well could end.”

Kurtz won the three Monroe County precincts in the 50th District by a 390-212 margin over Reedsburg Democrat Art Schrader with independent James Krus picking up 25 votes.

Kurtz said he plans to focus on flood recovery.

“We have a lot of towns and villages still in need of repair,” Kurtz said. He wants to make sure payments are made to affected areas and individuals in “a timely manner.”

In the 17th state Senate District, incumbent Republican Howard Marklein defeated Blanchardville Democrat Kriss Marion to win a second four-year term.

Wisconsin voters ousted incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker and incumbent Attorney General Brad Schimel in an election that produced a gigantic turnout both statewide and locally. In the city of Tomah, city clerk Jo Cram estimated the turnout at 77 percent, which exceeded the off-year turnouts in 2010 and 2014 and the recall election of 2012.

Democrat Tony Evers, a former Tomah resident, will move into the governor’s mansion. Evers was a teacher and administrator in the Tomah Area School District in the 1980s. He later became superintendent of the Verona School District before winning election as state Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2009.

Despite his eight years in Tomah, local voters still preferred Walker, who won the city of Tomah 1,584-1,485 and Monroe County 9,462-6,970.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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