Tuesday, March 21

Beaver Dam street has a history of ‘big sign wars’

BEAVER DAM, Wis. (WMTV) – You can tell a lot about a person by their front yard, even the way they vote.

“Some are supportive. Some are not, but you have your right either way, right?” Angie Kirst, a Democrat, said.

Her lawn along Park Avenue boasts blue campaign signs almost as tall as she is.

Signs for Wisconsin Democrats outside Angie Kirst’s home along Park Avenue in Beaver Dam.(WMTV/Michelle Baik)

Next door, a red sign with Tim Michels’s name stands similar in size. Placards for the Republican challenger in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race can be seen in at least three other homes on the Beaver Dam street.

“Oh, no, there’s no shame,” she said. “My neighbor feels no shame, I’m sure too, and we shouldn’t feel any shame because we’re in the United States. We should be able to vote for who we want to vote for. That’s important.”

A mix of GOP and Democrats' signs along Park Avenue in Beaver Dam.
A mix of GOP and Democrats’ signs along Park Avenue in Beaver Dam.(WMTV/Michelle Baik)

Kirst said it was 2008, during former President Barack Obama’s first presidential run, when she put up the street’s first big sign.

At the time, a Republican lived in the house beside hers. “Then he wanted a bigger sign. So he went with the bigger sign,” she said. She called it the birth of the “big sign wars.”

The fire still burns this midterm year, as Wisconsin’s major races compete neck and neck.

GOP sign-holders on this block were not home or declined to speak with NBC15. One street over, another couple boasted their Republican picks for office.

“I put them signs out for one reason. I’m a Republican,” Dick Nehmer said. “If they don’t like it, they know what they can do.”

Anita and Dick Nehmer
Anita and Dick Nehmer(WMTV/Michelle Baik)

“I’ve always felt that the democratic process is a choice,” Anita Nehmer said. “You should respect the other person’s right to their choice and voicing that choice. I feel they should do the same to us.”

In past years, the Nehmers said their signs had been removed by strangers.

Similarly, for the last presidential election, Kirst’s doorbell camera captured someone walking up to the Biden-Harris sign on her front yard and cutting it down the middle. The sign also had holes through it, appearing to have been shot multiple times.

A 2020 Biden-Harris sign cut through the middle. A closer look shows small holes piercing...
A 2020 Biden-Harris sign cut through the middle. A closer look shows small holes piercing through it.(Courtesy of Angie Kirst)

“People are afraid, unfortunately,” Kirst said. “And so I don’t think you have the discussions that you could have, and I think there is definitely more divisiveness.”

While the hedge can seem high, neighbors on both sides say they can still find common ground.

“We can help each other with shoveling or raking,” Kirst said.

Anita Nehmer said, “We have a snowblower, and so if there’s a big snowfall, he [Dick] will go and blow up and down the whole block. It doesn’t matter what your opinions are politically.”

In times of need, neighbors help neighbors. When it comes time to vote, neighbors make their voices heard.

“If we all were exactly alike. It would be an awfully boring world,” Anita Nehmer said.

The general election is on Nov. 8.

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