From the presidential race to that of county surveyor, Democratic candidates won all but one contested elections Portage County voters had a say in during the Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election.
Incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama, with Joe Biden as his running mate, captured 22,052 votes – about 56 percent – in Portage County to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s 16,599 votes (42 percent), to take the county vote along with the state and electoral college votes to win re-election.
All but eight of Portage County’s 46 precincts voted in favor of Obama.
Also receiving votes in the presidential race were Constitution Party candidates Virgil Goode and Jim Clymer (73 votes), Libertarians Gary Johnson and James P. Gray (306 votes), Party for Socialism and Liberation candidates Gloria La Riva and Filberto Ramirez Jr. (6 votes), Socialist Equality Party candidates Jerry White and Phyllis Scherrer (5 votes) and Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Ben Manski (143 votes). One hundred nine votes were cast for people not on the ballot.
Portage County Clerk Shirley Simonis said the percentage of eligible voters casting ballots in 2012 looks to be about the same as those voting in 2008. She said preliminary estimates indicate about 70 to 75 percent of eligible voters participated in the election this year, compared to the 72 percent who voted in 2008.
She said election clerks did not report any issues. “It was a relatively quiet day,” she said. “There were some lines, but most people were understanding.” She noted this was the sixth election this year, and all results won’t be official until a canvass takes place Tuesday, Nov. 13.
In the U.S. Senatorial race for the seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Herb Kohl, Democrat Tammy Baldwin became the state’s first woman U.S. Senator and the nation’s first openly gay senator by defeating former Wisconsin Republican Gov. Tommy G. Thompson in the statewide vote. Portage County residents also preferred Baldwin, as she captured 21,451 votes (56 percent) to Thompson’s 15,692 votes (41 percent).
Also receiving votes in the race were Libertarian Joseph Kexel (707 votes) and I.D.E.A. candidate Nimrod Y.U. Allen III (320 votes). Sixty-three votes were cast for people not on the ballot.
With Portage County residents no longer playing a factor in deciding the 7th Congressional District representative in the House of Representatives due to re-districting last year that put the county in the 3rd Congressional District, voters helped longtime incumbent Democrat Ron Kind, La Crosse, defeat Republican challenger Ray Boland, Sparta, and earn an eighth term. Kind received 21,904 votes (61 percent) in Portage County to Boland’s 13,714 votes (38 percent). Seventy votes were cast for people not on the ballot.
In state Senate District 24, held since 2003 by Democrat Julie Lassa, Stevens Point, Portage County voters cast 22,924 votes (61 percent) for her, compared to the 14,372 votes (38 percent) Republican challenger Scott Kenneth Noble, Marshfield, received. Throughout the district, Lassa received 48,630 votes to Noble’s 37,221 votes.
Democrat Katrina Shankland, a state political leader fellow with the Center for Progressive Leadership, defeated Republican Patrick Testin, a manager at Mattress Firm in Plover, for the 71st Assembly District seat being vacated by Louis Molepske Jr., D-Stevens Point.
Molepske opted not to run for re-election for that seat but instead for Portage County district attorney, which was vacated by Thomas B. Eagon when he was elected a Portage County Circuit Court judge in April.
Shankland received 17,602 votes (61 percent) to Testin’s 11,266 votes (39 percent), with 70 votes going to people not on the ballot. The 71st Assembly District covers the towns of Alban, Amherst, Belmont, Buena Vista, Lanark, Linwood, New Hope, Plover, Sharon, Stockton and Ward 3 in the town of Grant; the villages of Amherst, Amherst Junction, Nelsonville, Park Ridge, Plover, Rosholt and Whiting; and Wards 1-33 in the city of Stevens Point.
While she easily won the Portage County vote for 70th Assembly District seat, Democrat Amy Sue Vruwink, Milladore, only narrowly defeated Republican challenger Nancy L. VanderMeer in the overall vote, which primarily takes place outside of Portage County.
In the county, Vruwink received 2,878 votes (58 percent) to VanderMeer’s 2,114 votes (42 percent). Overall, Vruwink won 13,511 to 13,343 votes.
In another similar race in which the majority of the district is outside Portage County, incumbent Republican Scott Krug defeated Democrat challenger Justin Pluess 14,126 to 14,013 votes for his 70th Assembly District seat. Voters in the southwestern portion of the county sided with the incumbent in the only county race not won by a Democrat, as they cast 823 votes for Krug and 783 votes for Pluess.
Running unopposed and winning re-election were incumbent Democrats Shirley Simonis (27,830 votes) for county clerk, Stephanie Stokes (27,529 votes) for county treasurer, Cynthia Wisinski (27,539 votes) for county register of deeds and Joseph Glodowski (27,319) for county surveyor.
Molepske sealed his bid for district attorney, capturing 27,315 votes. He had defeated Veronica Isherwood, a Portage County assistant district attorney, 4,074 votes to 2,204 in a Democratic primary election Tuesday, Aug. 14, to capture the Democratic nomination and to run unopposed for the seat in the general election.
Voters in the Tomorrow River School District, in the only referendum on the ballot, approved spending $8.5 million to make facility improvements next year.
The money will be used for new classrooms, a new cafeteria and new locker rooms, as well as road improvements including the addition of a bus/fire lane behind the school buildings at 357 N. Main St.
The referendum will help address ongoing facility needs at the school while keeping the school’s total tax levy flat. Voters in 2010 rejected an $11.9 million request that would have addressed many of the same concerns; however, this request did not include requested renovations to the elementary and high school offices, and improvements to the athletics fields.
Because debt payments on a 1993 building project – the district’s last major borrowing for facility improvements – will be retired in 2013, the new borrowing will be levy neutral. The district’s financial advisers, W. Baird & Co. of Madison, have said the district will be able to make the payments on the $8.5 million of new debt without increasing the total amount of tax money the school district uses. Depending on the specifics like the interest rate at the time of the borrowing, the term of the new borrowing is estimated to be between 12 and 15 years.
In April 2011, district voters approved an operational referendum in a 1,158-to-767 vote that allowed the district to exceed levy limits by $350,000 per year for five years starting in the 2011-12 budget year. The referendum replaced a similar nonrecurring referendum that had been in place for the 10 previous years.