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When: Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024; polls open 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Find your voting location at myvote.wi. All absentee ballots must be requested by March 28th, 2024 and turned in no later than 8:00 p.m. on April 4th either by mail or dropped off in-person. In-Person absentee voting will start Tuesday, March 19th and end Friday, March 29th. This will take place at City Hall. You can vote Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you plan to vote by mail, voters are strongly encourage to mail their ballots as soon as possible to ensure their ballot is received by the deadline.

What it’s about: There are 45 candidates running for the 29 seats this April. The Eau Claire City Council includes 29members who each serve a two-year term. The candidates include:


District 3                    Joe Knight (Incumbent), Chris Connell


Who can vote: The election is open to all eligible voters in the Eau Claire Area School District.

Where you vote and who is on your ballot:

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Enter your voting address to learn which races are on your ballot and where you vote.

Why this questionnaire: The Good Government Council (GGC) is a committee of the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce dedicated to encouraging voter participation and providing members of the business community with non-biased information about candidates’ positions on important issues. Although the Chamber is active in policy issues, it is non-partisan and does not endorse political candidates.

Candidate Responses:

1. What are your background and qualifications for this position, and what value will you bring to the County Board personally?

Joe Knight

BS, MS from UW-Madison. 34 years as a reporter for the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, the last three years as the county board reporter. I covered outdoor recreation and environmental issues when I was a reporter and now I am chairman of the Parks and Forest Committee, landfill committee, stewardship subcommittee and county rep on the board for the Lake Altoona rehabilitation district. Since I’m writing this business folks I’ll note that Parks and Forest is one of the few agencies that generates income through fees, timber sales, and coming soon, the sale of carbon credits.

2. What should the County’s role be in responding to the healthcare crisis created by the HSHS and Prevea closings?

Joe Knight

HSHS and Prevea are private businesses and the county does not have any regulatory authority over them. We did try a moral appeal to have them make the transition as smoothly as possible. With the recent news that HSHS is pulling out sooner than expected , I’m not sure that helped. The county does regulate a number of things that affect the quality of life here, including clean water, parks, the county forest, public health, public safety. If we continue to do a good job in these areas it will be easier to retain and attract medical personnel. The budgets of some county departments, particularly DHS, are going to take a hit from HSHS/Prevea leaving. Non voluntary psychiatric commitments alone may cost $1 million, according to a briefing we received from DHS. The longterm solution is having more psychiatric beds in western Wisconsin. The short term solution is probably to dip into the contingency fund.

3. What is the County Board’s role in promoting economic development, business maintenance and commercial growth in the county?

Joe Knight

All county departments should do what we can to maintain the quality of life in the county so people want to live here. We have the fastest growing county in the state. There’s a reason for that. The county should continue in to the chip into the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation with the hope that they have better luck attracting businesses to the eastern side of the county.

4. How and on which issues and services should Eau Claire County work more collaboratively with the municipalities in its jurisdiction?

Joe Knight

The county and city work well together with the health department and communications for law enforcement. Otherwise communication could be better. The towns are never happy when the city of Eau Claire or Altoona annexes land, but for denser housing we need city sewage and water. Housing growth at the edge of a city is better than sprawl.

5. What should the County’s role be through its DHS department in working with the City of Eau Claire and other municipalities on issues related to mental health and the unhoused population?

Joe Knight

That’s a tough question. The county usually makes small donations to Beacon House and Sojourner House, but not much. These shelters are mainly supported by faith based groups, volunteers and donations. Recently Julian Emerson, a homeless advocate, asked for some ARPA funds for Sojourner House, but we gave the last of the funds for a jail project and Beaver Creek Reserve. Frankly, DHS doesn’t have the funds to do what we are already asking them to do, given the likely impacts of the HSHS/Preveau pull out. I guess the county’s version of low income housing is trailer parks. That’s not a good deal for the inhabitants because they don’t own the land and their landlord can jack up the rates anytime and the trailers don’t appreciate like homes do.

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