Proposal calls for stricter guidelines in recall election process

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Tuesday’s election marks the 16th time La Crosse County voters have headed to the polls in just more than two years.

A good number of those were because of recalls.

A proposed bill could change the process for recall elections.

When it comes to recalling an elected official, voters have mixed reviews on the process.

“If anything, we need to encourage people when they are dissatisfied with their elected officials,” said voter Richard Renwick.

“I think there needs to be some more reform on that kind of deciding what reasons we can do recalls and when we can’t,” said Daryll Jury.

“When the recall took place, well, I was recalled and that’s their decision to make, and I was comfortable with it,” said former state Sen. Dan Kapanke.


In 2011, taxpayers spent $87,700 for a recall effort against Kapanke.

Kapanke ended up losing his seat to Jennifer Shilling.

In 2012, La Crosse County taxpayers spent about $90,000 in recall elections, including one for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

“Recall elections (and) special elections, there’s been a lot of recall elections in the past two years,” said La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer.

Right now, a petitioner only needs to collect a certain number of signatures and a reason for recalling an elected official in Wisconsin.

“The reason could be anything you want that pertains to the office that they’re holding,” said Dankmeyer.

Under the proposed bill, a person can only be recalled if he or she has been charged with a crime or has committed an ethics violation.

Dankmeyer said the proposal could potentially save money and the time it takes to hold a recall election.

Had these requirements been in place, Kapanke would have never faced a recall, but he said the voter’s voice is important.

“Every elected official will have to defend, at one time or another, defend their vote,” said Kapanke.

A recall effort was started against La Crosse City Council president Audrey Kader.

Kader received enough votes in the primary that a recall election wasn’t needed.

The recall efforts cost the city almost $2,000.

Under the bill, Kapanke,  Walker and Kader would not have been eligible for a recall.

The bill was introduced in the state Senate and is currently waiting to be scheduled for a public hearing.