Sandi Frion thought when she accepted the appointment as Chippewa County Clerk about 17 months ago that if she did the job well, she wouldn’t have any problem keeping it when election time came.
The voters backed her up on that Tuesday, as Frion won easily in her first attempt at election to the County Clerk office. With all precincts reporting, she defeated Chippewa Falls Police Officer Mark Johnson 2,512-623 in the Democratic primary. With no other candidate on the ballot in November, she appears poised to win a four-year term.
At the clerk’s office Tuesday night, where the votes are tabulated, staff members hugged and congratulated Frion before even half the votes were counted – it was that kind of a runaway from the beginning.
“I’m very excited, and I’m excited to continue serving,” Frion said.
Frion took the post vacated by Lake Hallie Republican Kathy Bernier, who was elected to the State Assembly in 2010. Rather than hold a special election to fill the post, the County Board took applications and selected Frion from about 90 candidates.
Frion knew in taking the job that she risked losing it in an election, but she put her faith in her ability to do the job, and a belief she would be rewarded if she did well.
Members of the Chippewa County Board were among her strongest supporters.
Frion said she was “maybe a little” surprised by the margin of her victory.
She said she had been cautiously optimistic.
“I had my moments. I was not over-confident by any means,” she said. But she campaigned on her record since taking the job, “And from there, let the people decide.”
Frion said she expects to run again after a four-year term, and stick with the post as long as the voters will have her.
Frion still has another hurdle to get over, though. She must win in the November election, but she will be the only candidate on the ballot. No Republican candidates came forward, so the only opposition would come from a write-in candidate.
For Mark Johnson, it was a disappointing defeat after a campaign in which he and a team of volunteers worked very hard.
“I am very surprised by it,” Johnson said of the wide margin. He said he could offer no explanation why he did not get the support from the voters he expected. “I thought it would be a lot closer.”
But Johnson said he has no regrets about the campaign, although it cost him some expense.
“We met a lot of good people, and had a lot of fun in parades and stuff. It was definitely a learning experience.”
Johnson retains his job as a master patrol officer for the Chippewa Falls Police Department, a job he says he’s proud to have.
“We worked awful hard at it, but it didn’t work out,” he said of the campaign. “But I still have a great job I love doing with people who have been very supportive. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful job,” he said.