Frac sand mining is emerging as a top issue in a number of local elections in western Wisconsin.
Nine candidates running for various county and city seats have identified concerns over frac sand mining as part of their platforms. In Buffalo County, three people are challenging incumbent county board supervisors over these concerns.
Four more candidates are running in neighboring Trempealeau County. One of them is Tim Zeglin. He says a county committee has been too quick in approving 23 sand mines, which affect peoples' quality of life.
“It's intimidated a great many people who live here,” Zeglin said. “There's just so much money coming into the county, so fast: so many lawyers and all this stuff. People are afraid, they just back down and I couldn't just back down.”
Zeglin and four other county board candidates have been endorsed by the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. Program Director Anne Sayers says this is the first time they've picked sides in local elections
“The local level is a place where we can begin to set a course that says, 'This is what we want the future of western Wisconsin to look like,'” Sayers said.
In St. Croix County, two write-in campaigns are ramping up in Glenwood City due to frustration as city officials contemplate annexing land for a frac sand mine. Retired principal Julian Bender is running as a write-in for mayor.
“My focus is to try to slow down the process of annexation and mine permitting within the city limits of Glenwood City,” Bender said.
Officials in the frac sand industry will no doubt be watching these elections as they've already voiced concern about local permit granting governments being taken over by what they consider anti-frac sand activists.