Republican primary voters to decide sheriff's race in several NE Wisconsin counties

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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY)- Wisconsin's primary election is Tuesday, but in our area a number of local races for sheriff will be decided by just Republican voters.


These races are uncontested on the Democratic side of the ballot--so whoever wins Tuesday will take that office without having to campaign in the fall general election.

The largest of those counties is Outagamie, but Calumet, Waupaca, Wautoma, Shawano, Oconto, and Marinette round out the list.

After nearly three decades on the job Outagamie County Sheriff Brad Gehring is ready to retire--and three candidates right now are vying to take that job in a campaign that's been quite visible.

However-- next Tuesday only those voting in the Republican primary will have a say in who holds this important office.

"Roughly half of the voters next Tuesday will be picking up a Democratic ballot and because there are no Democratic candidates for sheriff, they're not going to have the opportunity to weigh in," said Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson.

Nelson tells Action 2 News the sheriff at the moment has a salary of almost 97 thousand dollars a year, and is in charge of about 200 employees--- many of which deal directly with the public.

"The major divisions are the 911 center, the jail, as well as law enforcement and patrol. So your talking about a department that really effects and certainly touches every corner of the county, it's a really big deal," Nelson added.

With a hotly contested race for governor on the Democratic side of the ballot, party leaders don't expect too many people to cross over.

However--it might force independents to make a much tougher choice between local and state politics.

"As you might imagine, a sheriff has particular qualifications that they might need, whether it's education or experience, or background and unfortunately this time around we were not able to find anybody who had those qualifications and was willing to run. You can ask, but you can't make somebody do it," said Lee Snodgrass, Chair of the Democratic Party of Outagamie County.

Under state law you can only vote either Republican or Democrat next Tuesday.

Voting in both primaries will cause the ballot to be rejected.