A candidate for Wisconsin state superintendent whose candidacy was challenged because she used the title “Dr.” in front of her name on nomination papers will remain on the ballot, the Wisconsin Elections Commission voted Tuesday.
Shandowlyon Hendricks-Williams is one of seven candidates for the open position to be secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The post is open after Superintendent Carolyn Stanford-Taylor chose not to seek reelection. The primary for the nonpartisan seat is Feb. 16. The two highest vote-getters will face off in the April 6.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission deadlocked on a 3-3 vote to sustain the challenge to Hendricks-Williams nomination papers. Two Republicans and one Democrat voted to keep her off the ballot and two Democrats and one Republican voted to allow her on. Because it was a tie, she will remain on the ballot.
The elections commission considered whether Hendricks-Williams violated a state law that prohibits candidates from using abbreviations or titles at the top of their nomination papers.
Hendricks-Williams argued that using the title was a “minor deviation" from the law and commission staff never pointed out the error. Her attorney argued that using the title didn't affect the validity of any of her nomination signatures.
Commissioner Marge Bostelmann, a Republican, argued that the law was clear that no titles are allowed and she should not have been allowed on the ballot.
Hendricks-Williams has worked in Gov. Tony Evers' Milwaukee office and as an assistant director of teacher education at the state Department of Public Instruction.
Another candidate for state superintendent, former Brown Deer Schools Superintendent Deborah Kerr, filed the challenge.
The other five candidates are Sheila Briggs, an assistant state superintendent; Jill Underly, superintendent of Pecatonica School District; Joe Fenrick, a Fond du Lac high school science teacher; Steve Krull, principal of Milwaukee’s Garland Elementary School and former Air Force instructor; and Troy Gunderson, Viterbo University professor and former superintendent of the School District of West Salem.