Election coverage: One Thing

Middle Wisconsin functions as a news magazine type of blog. Most of what is published here are opinion pieces written by people who reside (mostly) in Central Wisconsin who tend to have either a centrist or left-of-center point of view. That said, MW does not function as a primary news source, but that does not mean that we shouldn’t strive to cover news that other outlets are failing to provide.

I have this idea for how we might cover local elections. There is usually a question, or as I am calling it – One Thing – that voters ask that does not get answered by other media affiliates. Sometimes the answer to the question exists in documents obtainable by the general public, if only they took the time to suss them out.

One thing I had a question about, regarding my local candidates for school board was who opposed mask mandates? I was able to find the answer by reading the meeting minutes from the Wisconsin Rapids school board.

Vocal opponents to mask mandates who are running for positions on the Wisconsin Rapids school board include Mike Derrie, Julie DesJarlais, and Adam Stublaski.

I attempted to find out who, amongst the candidates for school board in Marshfield and Stevens Point, were opposed to mask mandates. I could not find the answer through looking at the minutes from school board meetings in these areas because the meeting minutes did not include this information. Public comments regarding masks have undoubtedly been made, but I would need to watch the video footage of these meetings to find out what was said

As someone who does this as a volunteer, I really did not want to devote the time or energy that kind of research would demand. However I think it is fair to say that Stevens Point candidates for school board – Jennifer Bushman, Alex Sommers, and Miguel Campos – probably are not supportive of mask mandates since they were photographed turning in their nomination papers during a surge in COVID cases, all without masks.

While the Wausau Pilot and Review has provided coverage of the 2022 school board election that talks about the candidates’ positions on the issues, the vast majority of news sources serving Central Wisconsin have only listed the names of who is on the ballot. This falls short of providing voters with information necessary for them to make an informed choice.

The school board races in Wisconsin Rapids, Wausau, Stevens Point, and Marshfield all have enough candidates to warrant a February 15th primary election. While a question about mask mandates is likely to come up at forums held by area chapters of the League of Women Voters, many voters have already received their absentee ballots and want to make an informed decision sooner rather than later.

If you have a passion for providing voters with useful information, we could use your help. Please contact me at editor@middlewisconsin.org to volunteer your time to research candidates and come up with other “One Thing” question ideas. While we welcome and encourage volunteers to write articles for Middle Wisconsin, “One Thing” volunteers do not need to commit to writing pieces if they do not want to.