BURLINGTON - Nearly half a year since Democratic Senators fled the state to avoid voting on the budget repair bill, voters today will have their chance to decide if they should stay in office.
Today residents in Burlington and most of Kenosha County can vote for Sen. Robert Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie or his Republican opponent Jonathan Steitz, also of Pleasant Prairie.
Polls are open in Burlington and most of Kenosha County from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today. Outside of Burlington, there are no other elections in Racine County today.
Wirch, 67, has represented the 22nd Senate District since he was elected in 1996. Wirch said during an online Journal Times forum last week that he left the state because, "Governor Walker and the Fitzgerald brothers staged the greatest attack on workers' rights in the history of the state of Wisconsin. This radical bill deserved a strong response." He worked the entire time he was in Illinois, he said.
But Steitz, 37, an attorney and former small-business owner, said in the Journal Times forum, "Sen. Wirch needs to be held accountable for his actions."
"A recall is appropriate when an elected official fails to do his job and abdicates his responsibility to represent us in Madison," said Steitz, who defeated former Kenosha County Sheriff Fred Ekornaas in a Republican primary.
While Wirch was in Illinois, volunteers in Kenosha County started collecting signatures for the recall election. They eventually collected more than 15,000 signatures. Today, the last day of the state recalls, voters will be able to decide who should represent them.
Voters in northern Wisconsin will also have a chance today to indicate their opinions about their state Sen. Jim Holperin, D-Conover, who also left the state in February to avoid voting on the controversial budget repair bill. He faces Republican challenger Kim Simac today.
The Wirch and Holperin recall elections are two of the nine state recall elections being held this year.
Last Tuesday, six Republican senators faced recalls; four kept their seats. Two Republicans lost, but it was not enough for Democrats to gain back control of the Senate.
Earlier in July state Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, was also challenged but successfully won his recall election.