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Voters in Eau Claire, Chippewa, La Crosse counties elect new sheriffs

Jimmie Kaska (WEAU)

Nov 9, 2022

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - New sheriffs will be taking up the badge in three western Wisconsin counties after Tuesday’s election.

Residents in Eau Claire, Chippewa and La Crosse counties will have a new sheriff for the first time in many years.

One of the closest races on election day in western Wisconsin was for Eau Claire County Sheriff, which was won by Eau Claire County Jail Captain Dave Riewestahl over Eau Claire County Sheriff Det. Don Henning by just 766 votes out of over 48,000 votes cast in the race. Riewestahl will take over for Ron Cramer, who served as sheriff since 1996 before declaring earlier this year he would not run again in 2022 before passing away unexpectedly in September. Riewestahl ran as a Democrat.

Another close race was in La Crosse County, where La Crosse County Sheriff Capt. John Siegel held on to win by 175 votes over Fritz Leinfelder. Siegel, who ran as a Democrat, will replace Jeff Wolf, who retired after 34 years of law enforcement service. Over 54,000 votes were cast in the race.

In Chippewa County, Republican Travis Hakes easily defeated Chris Kowalczyk, the brother of outgoing Chippewa County Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk. Hakes, the former police chief in Elk Mound, secured more than 16,000 votes out of more than 29,000 votes cast in winning in his second bid for sheriff. Jim Kowalczyk was sheriff in Chippewa County since being elected in 2006.

Across western Wisconsin, there weren’t many contested races for sheriff as a whole, with several Republicans running unopposed. In Vernon County, Republican Roy Torgerson easily fended off challenges from three independent candidates, garnering about 72% of the vote.

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