Taylor County voters ask for recall election, polls open Tuesday

Published: Jul. 17, 2023 at 6:21 PM CDT
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MEDFORD, Wis. (WSAW) Voters in the Taylor County towns of Grover, Molitor, and Westboro will head to the polls Tuesday after successfully petitioning to recall the county’s district 13 supervisor, Lester Lewis.

Voters petitioned for the recall following turmoil in the county, particularly in the Veterans Service Office. Three employees in that department quit in nine months, blaming county leadership and particularly Lewis for their reasons for leaving. Lewis does not agree with their characterizations of the many scenarios and emphasized following rules. An outside review of several complaints determined county department heads, the county’s administrative coordinator, and board supervisors did not understand their roles and responsibilities.

Voters Tuesday will have the opportunity to reconsider their choice for board supervisor, with a choice between Lewis and Harvey ‘Bud’ Suckow.

Lewis has served on the board for about 22 years. He has served on the Personnel and Finance, Zoning, Law Enforcement and Emergency Services, and Veterans Service committees. He previously worked as a master plumber. He has also served as a town chairman in Molitor.

He said he did not plan to campaign for this recall election, saying his record speaks for itself and that he has always worked for the good of the county. When asked about the independent reviewer’s suggestion to change the county’s structure from a committee-based model to an administrator model, he said he likes the committee structure but is open to making changes.

“Somebody says, Well, we’ve done this for 30 years this way or whatever, 50 years. Yeah, OK, but we’ve done it wrong for 50 years, and we know it now, we didn’t before. Once you know that it doesn’t isn’t a good fit, then make your changes. And I’ve always been that that philosophy,” Lewis said.

He explained the change would have to make sense, not just change for change’s sake.

His opponent, Suckow, said it is time for change and that he is in favor of term limits. Suckow’s reason for running is that he did not like what he saw from the county and from Lewis’ leadership. As for his thoughts about a change in structure, he is for changing to an administrator model.

“If you’ve got a board that’s got some common sense, and you hire a good administrator, it’s hard to go wrong. You know, you’re still in charge, you still control things, but you’ve got one person doing all the decisions and making it with the approval of the board, of course.”

Suckow recently moved to the county this past winter, but this is not his first time here. He said he and his wife had a hobby farm just east of Stetsonville for several years before moving to Stratford and living there for another 28 years. There he owned a building and remodeling business. He also served on the village board for 23 years, 12 as president. A few years ago, the couple purchased a lot on Lake Chelsea and started building their current home in 2021.

Suckow is a veteran, serving in the Army Security Agency from 1965-1969, including spending 39 months in Japan. If elected, he is interested in serving on the Veterans Service Committee.

Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Like other elections, absentee ballots can be returned to the clerk on Election Day. The Taylor County clerk said the county canvass will take place Thursday. The person elected will serve through the end of the term in April.