Election Day in Wisconsin: Preview of Big Races

Apr 3, 2018

Polls are open until 8 pm Tuesday in Wisconsin's Spring Election. Voters will select a new Supreme Court justice to replace Michael Gableman, who decided not to seek a second 10-year term.

The candidates are Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock and Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet. The two finished first and second in the February primary, respectively.

There also are races for Court of Appeals judges in District I and District IV, as well as a number of circuit court positions in multiple counties.

In addition, voters statewide will see a binding referendum question on ballots which asks whether the Wisconsin Constitution should be amended to eliminate the position of state treasurer.

Here is the wording for the question:

Elimination of state treasurer. Shall sections 1 and 3 of article VI and sections 7 and 8 of article X of the constitution be amended, and section 17 of article XIV of the constitution be created, to eliminate the office of state treasurer from the constitution and to replace the state treasurer with the lieutenant governor as a member of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands?

People pushing for the elimination of the state treasurer's office include the current office holder, Matt Adamczyk. He argues the office has outlived its purpose. He says the post used to include a number of administrative duties that have since been transferred to other agencies to increase efficiencies. As a result, Adamczyk says no responsibilities remain involving what people might assume a treasurer would do. For instance, he says for 50 years, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau has been calculating tax and spending information for the governor and Legislature. Adamczyk says if voters get rid of his office, the money saved could be contributed to the common school fund, which would mean more money for the state's public schools.

Those who want the post of treasurer to remain say there are a number of arguments for their position. One that's mentioned frequently pertains to the state treasurer's role on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. Matthew Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, says the constitution requires that the treasurer serve on the board, which manages more than $1 billion in trust fund assets and more than 77,000 acres of school trust lands. The lands include old-growth forests and trout streams. Rothschild says if the treasurer is eliminated, the lieutenant governor would instead sit on that board, bringing politics -- instead of an independent voice -- to how the lands and assets are used.

Voters also will determine the make-up of the Milwaukee County Board on Tuesday. There are races for seven of the 18 supervisory positions, including the post held by Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theo Lipscomb. This is the first election since the position of county supervisor became part-time, and since supervisors' terms were scaled back from four to two years in length.