District 20 of the Dane County Board of Supervisors sits in the northeast corner of the county, containing the villages of Marshall and Morrisonville.
The two candidates running for that district are incumbent Jeff Weigand and Scott Michalak.
Unlike other challengers in the Dane County Board races, Michalak is no political newcomer. He had previously ran unsuccessful races for a seat in the state Assembly in both 2012 and 2016. Running as a Democrat, he lost both races to the Republican incumbent Joel Kleefisch, husband of current candidate for governor Rebecca Kleefisch. Currently, he works as an assembler at Generac Power Systems in Jefferson.
Michalak also sits on the Marshall village board, and helped to start the Marshall farmers market after the village’s only grocery store closed down.
Michalak says that he first got into politics after Act 10 was passed in 2011, and says he is running because he does not like how incumbent Weigand is representing his district.
“I think Jeff, with his Dane County mask mandate (issues), when he had no power, no authority to overturn the mask mandate. He got people very fired up and very angry over this very divisive issue. Plus, there’s his stance on resolution 353, which was to create a task force for missing and/or murdered African American women or girls, he was the only supervisor to vote against that. I think, because of these reasons, he needs to be replaced,” Michalak says.
Weigand did not respond to multiple requests for comment about his campaign.
Weigand was first elected to the seat in a special election last year in a write-in campaign, after the death of the sitting supervisor, Julie Schwellenbach. Having previously worked in the state Departments of Transportation and Administration, Weigand currently works as the vice president of WPS Health Solutions in Monona, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Weigand has caused a stir since his election last year. Within the first month of serving on the board, he led a campaign to halt the indoor mask order in place in Dane County. He told WKOW at the time that he wanted the public to weigh in on the science behind wearing masks.
Eventually, a public hearing was held, though the board voted not to end the mask mandate in a 30-4 vote. The Wisconsin State Journal reported that Weigand was the lead author on that resolution.
Michalak says that one of his biggest priorities in the county is broadband access. He says that, as a rural district, businesses cannot afford to not have good internet access.
Michalak says that he would also like the board to do more to address kids living in the rural areas of Dane County.
“I would like to see for these young kids, especially in the African American and Hispanic American community, an expansion of bus service, maybe the Madison bus service can expand county wide. Some of the Building Trade Council’s apprenticeship programs, expand those to where kids in high school can receive college credit for being in an apprenticeship,” Michalak says
Weigand, on the other hand, has recently spent his time on election integrity. Earlier this month, Weigand proposed several amendments to a new election security review committee.
That committee was introduced to help stop the spread of misinformation around elections, specifically aiming to prevent another event like the January 6th insurrection.
The amendments proposed by Weigand largely drew from talking points from the investigation of the 2020 presidential election by Michael Gableman, including a review of votes cast in nursing homes and reviewing the use of absentee drop boxes. All six amendments Weigand introduced were shot down by the board.
Another issue that Weigand brought up at that meeting was the use of nonprofit money to help run elections.
“I hope that we can all understand and appreciate that our elections can and should be done by our government, and that they should not be run by people with deep pockets. And when you have groups, like the Center for Tech and Civil Life who have deep pockets, I hope that we can all agree that our elections, from a security perspective, and an accuracy perspective, and mitigating outside influence, they should be run by our governments. And our governments should be free from the influence of outside organizations, especially those organizations that have deep pockets that might have an interest in swaying an election one way or another,” Weigand says.
The use of grant money to help run the 2020 election has been repeatedly defended by federal judges.
Michalak says that, if elected, he would represent everyone in his district, no matter what political party they align with.
“I believe my current supervisor has been a rubber stamp for the Republican party. He has introduced legislation that is word-for-word verbatim with what the Wisconsin GOP has done, and what the Wisconsin State Legislature has done. That’s not the position that he’s in. He is a Dane County Board Supervisor, a nonpartisan position. I’ve introduced things like a new farmer’s market, bolstering new home growth, these are things that are nonpartisan issues that I think both Republicans, Democrats, etc. can all get behind,” Michalak says.
The 2022 spring election takes place on April 5th.
Photo courtesy: Dane County Board of Supervisors