Signature - gathering spurs possible investigation

By Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Nov. 21, 2006, 10:38 a.m.)

County Board Chairwoman Ann Lohrmann's participation in a petition drive to gather signatures supporting a board reduction has members of the county's executive committee calling for an investigation.

Committee Chairman David Weber said he wants to find out if Lohrmann's actions were appropriate for a supervisor to partake in.

Weber cautioned that committee members should go on a fact-finding mission before they go off half-cocked. "The sentiment of the vast majority of the board is that they're very disappointed (in Lohrmann)."

Lohrmann, who was elected in 1994 and chairwoman since 2002, stands fast in her decision to collect the signatures for Citizens for Responsible Government, the taxpayers group that called for the reduction.

"I'm not stepping down," she said.

Lohrmann wanted to know why some supervisors have allegedly called for her removal from the chairperson's seat.

"What is their reason? Is it because I'm doing what taxpayers want? I don't know. I've heard the rumor and I'm not stepping down," she said.

Supervisor Dan Kilkenny said he submitted questions to the executive committee he'd like answered pertaining to Lohrmann's petitioning for signatures outside the village of East Troy polling station on Election Day.

The executive committee will gather information from Lohrmann, the village clerk who saw Lohrmann asking for signatures outside the poll station's exit, the State Elections Board and the officer who confronted Lohrmann that night.

"We have work to do before we reach any conclusions," Weber said.

While Lohrmann contends that she has the civil right to petition the same government she's a part of, those rights might be limited by the title she holds, Weber said.

"Being elected to the chair is a big responsibility," Weber said. "It reaches beyond what personal civil rights are, I think. I believe if you're given that higher calling, you need to act in a fashion that's commensurate with that. I'm not so sure she's doing that."

Supervisor Jim Van Dreser said he was disappointed when he found out Lohrmann had petitioned for a board reduction.

"It's a poor reflection of the board," he said.

Lohrmann at least has the backing of Walworth County Citizens for Responsible Government Chairman Bret Strong.

"The bottom line to it is this; what side of the fence was Ann Lohrmann on? She was on the side of the fence the taxpayers are on," Strong said. "She knew full well that by collecting signatures that she could be putting her own job on the line. If the board is downsized, it can be redistricted and someone else can take her spot."

Added Lohrmann, "I didn't run for myself. I ran for the taxpayers. I want to do what's best for the taxpayers and the residents of Walworth County."



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