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Onalaska School District residents vote Tuesday in the recall election at the National Guard Armory.

ONALASKA — Onalaska School District voters who went to the polls Tuesday clearly wanted an end to Jake Speed’s disruptive school board term.

Deanna Verdon mug


Jake Speed


Former board member Deanna Verdon outpolled Speed by a margin of almost 15-to-1 in a recall election midway through the incumbent’s first term. Verdon received 1,408 votes to Speed’s 95.

Verdon said she was thrilled to see voters come out in such numbers to show their support and put her back on the school board; the vote clearly showed the community cares about the future of the school district.

“I am really looking forward to getting back together with all the school board members and to be able to look at the issues ahead of us,” she said.

Verdon, a special education teacher at Viking Elementary School in Holmen, left the board after her first three-year term earlier this year but was convinced by recall proponents to run against her former colleague.

In March, Speed told a radio station the school district illegally spent $3,500 on attorney’s fees. A month earlier, Speed told the same radio station that he filed a complaint with the FBI and La Crosse County district attorney over malfeasance in the district.

On April 10, the board unanimously censured Speed for his confrontational relationship with district staff and fellow board members.

Speed regularly declined to talk to the Tribune, calling it “fake news,” and declined to answer any questions in its pre-election questionnaire.

Speed won election to the board April 5, 2016, after challenging the validity of the nomination papers circulated by incumbents Ann Garrity and Tim Smaby. Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board granted Speed’s challenge, removing Garrity and Smaby’s names from the ballot, leaving the La Crosse Tea Party founder’s name alone on the ballot. Garrity edged fellow incumbent Tim Smaby for the second seat on the board in that election, both running as write-ins.

The effort to recall Speed, led by Onalaska chiropractor Mark Cassellius, gathered 2,285 qualified signatures, 32 percent more than than the 1,743 required by state law to force a recall election.

“Hopefully the school board and the district can move on, put this behind them and have a full focus on the business that is the most important,” he said.

School Board President Ann Garrity said it was a pleasant surprise to see how many people took an interest in the makeup of the board.

Cassellius has said the recall effort was motivated by concern about the activities, actions and behavior of Speed — activities and behaviors Garrity characterized as “disappointing to put it mildly.”

She described Speed as at times unprofessional, threatening, demeaning and condescending to fellow board members and faculty.


Local news editor

(4) comments


The real news to this story is that 95 people were crazy enough to vote for Speed.


It will be nice to see the old club back together. All chums and friends. While true that Jake brought some of his own problems, he did show that citizens want change. But now we can get back to having this tight knit family carrying buckets o' cash (your cash) back to the district, slopping a bit here or there. But waste matters not when the well never runs dry.


No, what Jake showed is that everyone in politics needs to read the fine print and make sure their documents are clean. His "win" was a result of getting others tossed off the ballot. Can't wait to zip over to facebook to see his victim rant.


Good Bye, Fake Speed… Err, Faux Speedo, I will miss our quarling on this forum!
In hindsight, I am wondering if your ever knew who you were running against in this election? Did you ever know that your opponent was not Ann Garrity, Fran Finco, or Brian Haefs? Apparently Not.
What, exactly, is abuse of discretion, anyway?
Nevertheless, you put up a heck of a campaign... 1408 - 95 ??? Impressive.
So, you didn’t even show up for, yet, another meeting, on the eve of the election? Did you know something the rest of us didn’t know?
In the end, Walt…., I mean Fake, this community will always respect the opinions of anyone…..
However, we will never tolerate anyone using a School Board as a platform for political purposes. I suggest on your next go – a – around, you use a position that does not involve school students, or a proud community that will not not have anyone standing on the backs of people that have a long standing pride in their School District!
Your social media suggested that YOU represented a portion of the population that demanded change. Who are they??? Did they turn out the vote yesterday? Do they have children in the district? Do you and Mrs. Pratt???
I’ll miss you Mr. Speed. You always inspired me to stay up late to type this garbage during your tenure. I will now return watching TV. The X-files is returning in January. Perhaps Mulder, Skully, and President Garrity will someday give you the answers you seek regarding UFOs and Ona’s mind-control education system.
Cogratulations Deana Verdon. Welcome back to the Onalaska board!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Peace Out……

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