Patti Wenzel

Spring elections decided by a few

By - Apr 7th, 2010 04:00 am
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Photo byTheresa Thompson, courtesy of Flickr

Hey, there was an election yesterday. You didn’t know? Most people didn’t. Most state voters were faced with ballots full of uncontested judicial and school board elections, so many exercised their right to sit out of the electoral process. That is sad, considering people are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan to exercise their right to choose their representatives. But then apathy is our national past time, glorified by years of Seinfeld episodes.

Spring election turnout doesn’t lead to long lines at the polls, with Kevin Kennedy of the Government Accountability Board predicted only 11 percent of Wisconsin’s 3.4 million voters would go to the polls. By early evening he hadn’t heard of problems at any polling place, even those with hotly contested mayoral races or school referendums.

Mayoral races in Waukesha, Pewaukee and Cudahy drew the most eyes from political writers in southeastern Wisconsin and had some of the biggest turnouts. Each city had a race where the results could change the look of the community for decades to come.

Waukesha voters chose real estate developer Jeff Scrima, a relative unknown over incumbent Larry Nelson, 6,244 to 4,492, with all of the polls reporting. Nelson has conceded the race.

In  an interview with WISN Channel 12, Scrima said he will work to hold down taxes and to work for job development. He is in favor of the common council moving ahead with an application to use Milwaukee water, but he will continue to look for other alternatives.

The battle in Waukesha focused on the city’s need for fresh drinking water. With Scrima’s win, the city may slow its move to purchase water from Milwaukee since he has warned such a move would be costly and would allow Milwaukee to have control over Waukesha’s growth. Nelson has been very vocal on using the Great Lakes to supply the city with water and to replace wells that are contaminated with radon. The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission recommended the switch from the wells to lake water, supplied by Milwaukee, Oak Creek or Racine. He said the Waukesha Common Council would have final say over the water supplier and the state’s Public Service Commission would approve rates, safeguarding Waukesha citizens.

Scrima ran on a platform that Nelson and SEWRPC were conspiring to hand millions of dollars to Milwaukee to help Tom Barrett’s municipal budget and to hand Waukesha’s sovereignty to it’s larger, eastern neighbor. He referred to a 2008 Common Council resolution that would ask new suburban water customers for their comprehensive development plans, affordable housing and transit plans. But as the result show, Scrima’s fear mongering of the water issue resonated with voters on Tuesday.

Waukesha County voters also had a choice between incumbent Circuit Court Branch 2 Judge Richard Congdon, who has served for one year after being appointed by Gov. Doyle and State Legislator Mark Gundrum. The county, which leans heavily Republican and has voted for the GOP presidential candidate since 1968, was expected to go for Gundrum, an Iraq War veteran and member of the Waukesha Republican Party.

The final result had Waukesha voters going with the Republican in this non-partisan race, giving Gundrum 41,126 votes to Condgon’s 12,400.

The City of Pewaukee’s voters were being asked to determine the very existence of their city and police department. Incumbent Scott Klein and Ald. H. Roger Hathaway argued throughout the spring over a proposed merger with the neighboring Village of Pewaukee and the disbanding of the city’s police department. Klein said abolishing the police department and contracting with the Waukesha County Sheriff to provide protective services has saved money for taxpayers, and he feels that a merger of the two communities would do the same. Hathaway wants to rebuild the police department and suspend a merger study.

Klein maintains his seat,1,869 votes to Hathaway’s 1,130, with 100 percent of the precincts reporting.

An advisory committee is hoping to have a merger referendum for the voters in June.

Cudahy voters turned away from incumbent Ryan McCue’s policies that kept big box retailers and other national development out of the city, in favor of Tony Day. Day campaigned that he would move to have the mayor position be part-time and would call for a referendum on a proposed Wal-Mart development at the corner of Pennsylvania and Layton. Day received 2,180 votes to McCue’s 1,883 votes with 100 percent of the polls reporting.

To find results for your specific community and all 284 races in the metro area, visit our news partner WISN and click on the pull down menu on the right side of the screen.

Categories: Commentary, Politics

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