How much stock should we put in nomination papers?
I poured through all the signatures so you don't have to
In talking with a source on a different story, the subject of Chris Woods came up. Woods is one of three candidates for mayor and is known for publicly making anti-Semitic speeches, such as listing members of the CDC, and how those members are Jewish.
Something my source pointed out that I think is important to keep in mind: just because someone signed his nomination papers doesn’t necessarily mean they share his views, or that they’re even aware of his views.
It occurred to me over the holiday break when I was doing some cleaning that Wood had already run for public office — in 2022 he ran for county board in District 1. He must have moved because he listed his address on his nomination forms as being on Thomas Street.
How had I forgotten? None of his campaign materials at the time made any anti-Semitic statements. I remember him running on a platform of transparency and holding regular town hall-style meetings with his constituents.
Here is what his write-up said at the time:
Christopher Wood, 27, works for a lawn care company. Wood says he was called to run by the heavenly father and says there is a plan to rebuild society from the ground up. Wood’s priorities are to revolutionize local politics and he plans to hold regular meetings with constituents, building transparency and community. Wood says he would actually like to meet with residents weekly if not more often to thin the veil between government and citizens.
Nothing akin to his more recent Twitter (or yes, X) spaces titled “How to defeat the Jews.”
So that brings us to the point — it’s unlikely he knocked on doors and went into his anit-Semitic diatribe. More likely he focused on things like transparency and building community. It’s pretty easy to see a number of people hearing that, having no idea about his anti-Semiticism, and shrugging and signing the papers. TV news didn’t really cover his anti-Semiticism, so it’s likely a number of people in Wausau don’t know much about it.
I didn’t recognize any of the names on Woods nomination papers.
Nomination signatures aren’t necessarily endorsements. Someone could sign nomination papers just because they feel they deserve to be on the ballot. That doesn’t necessarily mean they plan to vote for them.
But in reality, most people sign the nomination papers of the candidate they like, and probably wouldn’t sign the papers of the candidate they don’t. And there isn’t a lot of overlap between Katie Rosenberg’s papers and Doug Diny’s.
One interesting signature - former Mayor James Tipple signed Doug Diny’s papers. Tipple served for a number of terms before Mielke - and Mielke’s signature doesn’t appear on any of the candidates’ papers. Former mayoral candidate Jay Kronenwetter also signed them.
Keene Winters, a former city council member whose time included some controversy, signed Diny’s papers too. As did former council member Deb Hadley, and former county board member and former county GOP chair Jack Hoogendyk. And current city council candidate Jo Ann Egelkrout signed them.
The only current city council signer was Lou Larson.
If Diny’s isn’t much of a surprise, neither is Rosenberg’s. Current city council signers include Carol Lukens and Chad Henke. County board members Michelle Van Krey, Alyson Leahy and Ann Lemmer signed Rosenberg’s papers. Current county board candidate John Kroll signed, as did current city council candidate Tom Neal. Former county board member William Harris signed, and helped circulate papers.
Wausau River District’s director Blake Opal-Wahoske signed Rosenberg’s papers, as did former Wausau River District director and current Community Development Director Liz Brodek. Grand Theater Director Sean Wright and current homeless liaison worker Tracey Rieger also signed them.
Why so many late candidates?
I had a suspicion so I reached out to Kim Trueblood about this. Trueblood told The Wausonian that candidates in this cycle could get all their forms online, and many did so, only turning in everything at the last minute. That led to some last minute scrambling because there were some forms people didn’t realize they needed to fill out.
Trueblood says when people stop in to the office in person she can make sure they get all the forms they need.
The online option led to some last minute surprises as the number of contested races seemed to grow by the minute on the Friday before deadline day, and even moreso on Tuesday.
That’s different than in past election cycles, when journalists had a pretty good idea of who was running by the first couple of weeks because candidates had stopped into the clerk’s office to get their paperwork and were recorded as having done so.
So what looked like it would be a ho-hum county board election turned into 14 contested races, and with six contested city council races.
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