Blugolds turn out for spring primary elections

The spring primary election for State Superintendent empowered students to practice political efficacy



8.5 percent of eligible voters turned out for this years spring primaries.

Though she won’t be living in Wisconsin next year, English education student Hunter May cast her vote for a state superintendent whom she said aligned with her values a contested election that saw a 5 percent increase in voter turnout.

“Because I’m an ed. major, I know it’s important to have a superintendent that has the same values as me and I knew that two of the candidates that were running did not,” May said.  

While the only race on the ballot in Eau Claire last Tuesday was for state superintendent, students and community members alike still came out to vote in support of their pick.

Voters had the choice between incumbent State Superintendent Tony Evers or his challengers John Humphries and former Beloit Superintendent Lowell Holtz.

The spring primary results narrowed down to Evers and Holtz, who will be advancing to the April 4 general election. The race was far from close, with Evers receiving 80.1 percent of votes and Holtz with 13.4 percent.

For spring primaries with a similar ballot, Eau Claire City Clerk Donna Austad said Eau Claire averages a 3 to 9 percent turnout of eligible voters. This year’s turnout was at 8.5 percent, which Austad said is a little higher than normal, despite still being within the average.

“I don’t think (people) realize the importance their vote can have, especially at small turnouts like this one,” Austad said. “Often they’re close elections; this particular election was not, but primaries can be close.”

Evers is backed by Democrats and public school advocates. He opposes the expansion of the private school voucher program, supports Common Core and believes in helping schools in struggling urban areas.

Holtz and Humphries are opposites of Evers, supporting school choice backers who hope to overturn Common Core. Humphries also wants to change the state report card and design a way for low-performing schools to be turned into charter or private voucher schools.

Leading up to the election, Humphries and Holtz  faced allegations of working together to beat Evers.

According to the Associated Press, Humphries made public a document he said showed Holtz had offered him a deal for a $150,000 state job and board control over the largest school district, if Humphries dropped out of the race.

Holtz said there was no offer and he was just suggesting an idea brought forward by other unnamed business people.

Grayce Anne, UW-Eau Claire senior studying chemistry and business, said she felt a trustworthy democratic candidate was important for State Superintendent.

“We need a more left-leaning candidate who isn’t taking money from out-of-state and in-state contributions to sway him,” Ann said.

Ann was among the 6,809 people in Eau Claire who cast their vote in this year’s spring primary. Following November’s election results and the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, Ann said she was upset and further motivated to cast her vote.

She felt strongly that the best thing anyone could do following the recent election is to get out and keep voting in local and state elections.
“(The State Superintendent) is something that affects so many people, especially because Eau Claire prides itself on being such a great place to grow up a family oriented community,” Ann said, “and people realize the best thing you can do for your family is give them a good education.”