About 40 Vernon County residents spoke at a virtual public hearing Monday morning regarding the County Board of Supervisors’ proposed resolution declaring Vernon County to be a Second Amendment preservation county.
The majority of people who spoke at the hearing opposed the resolution and asked the Vernon County Board of Supervisors to vote against it. Three participants who spoke were in favor of the resolution. The resolution is on the Board of Supervisors’ Tuesday, Feb. 2 agenda. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m.
Before citizen input began, Supervisor Roger Call, who represents District 18, and authored the resolution, reviewed the proposed resolution.
Jillian Ritchie of Viroqua said she comes from a family of gun owners and is not against guns for hunting or personal protection. “The county has no role here. Our country is divided enough; we don’t need another source of division.”
Leslie Wegener of Stoddard said she opposed the content of the resolution. She said she questioned the timing of the resolution because she sees other issues on the County Board agenda with higher priority. “This is un-Constitutional and unenforceable.”
Mike Nordskog, a resident and attorney in the town of Webster, said he opposed the resolution because he saw legal shortcomings. He said the County Board of Supervisors are to uphold the Constitution. “Why single out one amendment? … The resolution is meaningless and unenforceable.”
Anne Orso of rural Viola said she was “adamantly” against the resolution. “It’s divisive; please focus on issues that unite the community.”
Supervisor Mary Henry, who represents District 17, said most of the correspondence she received was opposing the proposed referendum. Henry said she “strongly opposed” the referendum, and the Board needs to spend time bringing the community together.
Dodie Whitaker of Viroqua said that as a woman of color, she and her friends and family see the area as a safe haven. Whitaker said she’s a pacifist, but she supports the right of gun owners to have guns. She said she opposed the resolution for safety reasons, adding that she would like to see efforts focused on mental health and economic issues.
Paul Buhr of rural Viroqua also opposed the resolution. “I see no reason to further divide us with this un-Constitutional measure,” he said.
Cori Wilson of Ontario said she supported the proposed county resolution. She said she owns a gun and respects and appreciates the gun laws as they are currently written. Wilson said she encouraged people to look at H.R.127 that’s now before Congress. She said the resolution is restrictive. “I’m surprised no one is concerned about restrictions to our rights.”
Jared Lasky of rural Westby also spoke in favor of the resolution, saying the right to bear arms is not a suggestion but a directive.
Paul Wilson of Ontario said he also supported the proposed resolution. He said he respected all of the people who oppose the resolution.
At the end of the two-hour hearing, Katherine Neidert asked if a recording of the public hearing would be available to the supervisors who weren’t in attendance, if the statistics on those who opposed the resolution would be shared with the Board and if the hearing would be required listening.
Board Chairman Justin Running said notes were taken during the hearing, the hearing was recorded, the number of people for and against the resolution would be shared with the supervisors, and the chat comments will also be recorded. He added it’s not a requirement for board members to view the hearing, and there will be discussion by the board at its meeting Feb. 2. Running said he assumed supervisors will share comments from their constituents.
Running thanked everyone who participated and said he appreciated everyone for “staying on point.”
Angela Cina can be reached at email@example.com.