Yesterday, Brooklyn’s village President, Brit Springer, was voted out of office — despite not facing a formal challenger. Springer was issued a resounding defeat by write-in candidate Mark Bruner, who garnered 75% of the vote, or roughly 244 ballots.
But she wasn’t alone in her defeat; in addition to Springer, three other Brooklyn trustee races were won by write-in candidates. In two of those races, the incumbents weren’t seeking re-election.
There are seven seats on the village board, meaning more than half of that community’s governing body is now chaired by write-in candidates.
The upending of the village board comes two months after that body passed a highly controversial measure to dissolve the Brooklyn Police Department. Now, the village contracts with the Dane County Sheriff for law enforcement responsibilities.
Community members argued at the time that the process was shrouded in secrecy. The board announced the vote just a few days before it took place — and in a single post on the village’s Facebook page. The former Brooklyn police officers alleged that the board only agreed to that limited public notice after their urging.
Springer did not return WORT’s request for comment today.
Bruner says that lack of transparency was one of the reasons he ran as a write-in candidate. Bruner previously served a seven-year stint on the Brooklyn board from 2005 to 2012.
“This board has spent more time doing closed session meetings that we did my entire previous seven years on the board,” he told WORT. “There’s so much secrecy concerning the way the current board has been operating. We ran on a platform of transparency and accessibility, and I intend to stick with that.”
As part of that transparency, Bruner says he’s looking to return the village’s government to in-person meetings. He says they’ll still adhere to public health guidelines, but Zoom meetings disenfranchise some residents and can push them out of the public input process.
Bruner says it’s unlikely the Brooklyn will get their police department back anytime soon. He says that the village has already liquidated the department’s equipment, and relicensing the department would be a major cost for the small, roughly 1,200-person community.
“We’re looking at a substantial amount of money, and at this point I just don’t believe it’s feasible. But it’s something we’ll definitely be looking into down the road,” he says.
Bruner will be joined on the board by three other write-in candidates. They’ll officially take office in just under two weeks.
Of course, that’s just one of many local races on the ballot yesterday. Dane County voters also saw several referenda items.
In addition to Madison’s four referenda questions, there were an additional seven referendums on ballots across the county. Mazomanie residents approved a new measure that will allow ATV usage on public roads.
Both Christiana and Cambridge shot down proposals to borrow additional funds to finance improvements to their fire stations. Meanwhile, Rockdale voters approved such a measure.
Also in Cambridge, a referendum on increasing the town’s levy limit passed by just one vote. Levy limits stipulate how much revenue a community can raise through property taxes, and Cambridge’s current levy limit is a little more than $1.4 million.
The Cambridge and Deerfield News Independent reports that the proposal will increase the limit by $95,000 annually.
Over in Monona, incumbent mayoral candidate Mary O’Connor fended off a challenge by Kristie Goforth, who also serves on the Monona city council. O’Connor secured 57% of all ballots cast — a little north of 1,600 votes. Also in Monona, all three city council candidates up for re-election – Doug Wood, Kathy Thomas and Nancy Moore – successfully defended their seats.
All election results in Dane County are available online at the clerk’s website.
About thirty percent of registered voters in Dane County, or roughly 121,000 people – cast their ballots in yesterday’s election.
(Photo c/o Village of Brooklyn)