Voters to choose on board size

Supervisors will not challenge petition signatures

By Mike Heine/ The Week

(Published Dec. 21, 2006, 9:38 a.m.)

Walworth County voters will decide this April if 14 county board positions should be axed.

Following a closed session meeting Wednesday, the Walworth County Executive Committee decided not to challenge the signatures Citizens for Responsible Government gathered in a petition drive to reduce the board's size.

"For purposes of a simple term, it just wasn't worth it. That's just my opinion," said Supervisor Jerry Grant, a member of the executive committee.

The county called in outside counsel to advise the committee about its options for a possible challenge.

Afterward, attorney David Halbrooks, a former State Elections Board member, offered no comment. The county will no longer need Halbrooks' services since it took no action, said Administrator David Bretl.

The county board had until the end Thursday to challenge the sufficiency of the 2,286 valid signatures the conservative taxpayers group collected to force a referendum question. The group, which collected 2,521 total signatures, seeks to reduce the board from 25 to 11 members.

Local Citizens for Responsible Government chapter chairman Bret Strong said he expected members of the county board to make a move to fight the reduction effort.

"This is nothing more than attempting to thwart our efforts to do it," Strong said while the executive committee met in closed session. "With 2,600 people saying (downsizing) is a great thing, and then for them to try and knock it to the curb, it shows the true mentality of this board. It's a power trip."

Deputy County Corporation Counsel Michael Cotter said County Clerk Kim Bushey and her office did a very thorough job in the review of the signatures. The clerk's office declared 235 signatures invalid because of a variety of errors.

Any challengers would have needed to find 201 more invalid signatures to have the State Elections Board consider the issue and possibly authorize removal of the referendum from the April 3 ballots.

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