Controversy grows over signature collection in County Board races

Republican Party defends use of outsiders in collecting signatures for candidates

A controversy is growing in La Crosse County over the collection of nomination signatures for county board races.

Earlier this week, State Representative and La Crosse County board member Steve Doyle criticized the Republican party for using people from outside the area to collect signatures.

County board races are technically non-partisan, but the practice of using outsiders to collect signatures on behalf of a candidate is allowed under state law.

“Nothing is illegal, it doesn’t pass the sniff test, though,” said County Board Chair Tara Johnson. “I think it changes the nature of the campaigns, and I think it definitely speaks to the candidates and what their commitment is to working hard for their neighbors.”

La Crosse County Republican Party Chair Bill Feehan called a press conference Wednesday to address the issue. He says the Republicans aren’t doing anything Democrats have already been doing for years, adding Democrats who were elected to partisan offices have previously supported candidates for the non-partisan County Board.

“I’m not saying that what the Democrat party has done is wrong,” said Feehan. “They have the right to freely associate and to work to elect the candidates that support their views. What I’m saying is we have that same right.”

Feehan says the Republicans were working to get more people on the ballot to reduce the number of uncontested races and give voters an option at the polls, not necessarily to get more conservative voices on the board.

Two County Board seats will be contested in Tuesday’s election.