Supervisor calls for board chair's resignation

By Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Dec. 7, 2006, 11:38 a.m.)

Walworth County Board Supervisor Jerry Grant says Chairwoman Ann Lohrmann has embarrassed the board and should resign.

"My concerns are that she does not support the majority of the board when it makes decisions," Grant said. "To me, as a board chairperson, when the majority of the board passes an issue, then it's her responsibility to continue to lead with that issue."

Grant is irked by Lohrmann's efforts on Election Day to gather signatures for a petition to reduce the size of the county board. Lohrmann stationed herself outside the village of East Troy polling location to collect the names.

"She's basically out trying to undermine (things)," said Grant, a former supporter of Lohrmann. "I basically feel that her leadership is going the wrong way."

Grant also takes exception to Lohrmann's recent comment that some board members need to realize that "the county board is not a social club."

"A statement like that is totally uncalled for," he said. "There's no such thing. I'm not aware of a board member that considers it a social club."

Lohrmann, who has been board chairwoman since 2004, has defended her right to gather signatures for the petitions. She has said she will not resign.

"I guess he says I'm an embarrassment for lower taxes. What is he then?" Lohrmann said of Grant. "There's nothing more to say. That concerns me. Because I'm working for lower taxes, I'm an embarrassment?"

Along with Grant's comments, Supervisor David Weber wrote in a guest editorial in The Week last Sunday that said Lohrmann "has a greater allegiance to Citizens for Responsible Government (the group sponsoring the petition to reduce the board's size) than to the county board she is supposed to lead."

Supervisor Dan Kilkenny also wrote a list of seven questions about the signature gathering that he wants Lohrmann to answer.

All supervisors are entitled to their opinions and their votes, Lohrmann said. Supervisors should not be forced to fall into groupthink mode and follow the majority on every issue, she said.

"They just don't want to discuss the other side. They don't want to discuss the side that's opposite of what they're in favor of," Lohrmann said.

In a guest column in The Janesville Gazette, Lohrmann said fewer supervisors would make the board more visible and board members more accountable.

"I believe efficiency and accountability will save money and provide better services," she wrote.

Bret Strong, chairman for the Walworth County Citizens for Responsible Government Chapter, said board members who want Lohrmann demoted are going overboard.

"I see absolutely nothing wrong with her doing what she's doing," Strong said. "She supported the previous downsizing (efforts).

"The rest of the county board is mad that she's not on board with the good boys club. That's great for Ann, and I praise her for being on that side of the fence. Soon, the rest of the board will find out that they're on the wrong side of the fence."

Grant said he's not about to take civil rights away from Lohrmann, but he said she should not have put herself in a position that contradicts what a majority of the board decided earlier this year. The board chose by a 12-10 vote not to consider a proposed downsizing to 21 members.

Because Grant is asking Lohrmann to voluntarily step down, the county board is not required to act, Deputy Corporation Counsel Michael Cotter said.

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