Yesterday was the 2022 spring election. In Dane County, 22.5% of registered voters turned out to vote. That’s the lowest turnout since 2014.
Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell says that low turnout was not surprising.
“It went pretty smoothly. It was relatively quiet, I think the fact that there wasn’t anything at the top of the ticket like the Supreme Court or public instruction, a statewide race, kind of kept the turnout down. If nobody is spending a lot of money on elections, you can see that that affects turnout, so this election vs this November have nothing in common,” McDonnel says.
Turning to the election results themselves, incumbents on the Dane County Board, Madison School Board, and judicial candidates had a good night.
On the Dane County Board, all 10 incumbent supervisors won back their seats.
Some challengers did come close. In district 20, the race between incumbent Jeff Weigand and challenger Scott Michalak came down to just 33 votes, or just over one percent.
Meanwhile, GOP backed Carlos Umpierre also came within reach of victory last night in district 25 against incumbent Tim Kiefer, though still lost by several hundred votes.
Incumbent Sarah Smith in district 24 says that she is happy to see that all incumbents wound up getting reelected, and is ready to work with them over the next term.
“I’m pretty excited to keep serving with a lot of those folks. Supervisor Doolan and I served together on the City-County Homeless Issues Committee, so I’m excited to see her be reelected and to continue to work with her. It’s clear that all of us who were contested in this race really put in the work going out door-to-door, and that’s the thing that really makes a difference in a local election,” Smith says.
While the incumbents ruled in the contested races, that still only accounted for 10 of 37 County Board seats. And almost a third of the Dane County Board will be new. All seats on the Dane County Board were up for election yesterday, due to recent redistricting.
11 new candidates for Dane County Board ran unopposed, and unsurprisingly, won. . Districts 12 and 21 tied for the most write-in votes at just 33 apiece.
One of those candidates is Olivia Xistris-Songpanya, a 21 year old student at UW Madison, and the new board supervisor for district 13. She says that she first thought about running for the seat after working in the capitol building.
“I started working at the state capital as an intern last May, I got into a fellowship there. That’s how I got started and that’s where I was first alerted to this opportunity on the board of supervisors. My coworker at the time and my boss came up to me (and said) there’s an open seat, you can run unopposed, we can help you with anything, so that’s how I got into it,” Xistris-Songpanya says.
Also on yesterday’s ballot, of course: three seats for the Madison school board.
Laura Simkin got about seventy percent of the vote, beating out Shepherd Joyner for seat 3 on the Madison School Board by about 13,000 votes.
The two candidates share many of the same opinions on school policy. But they differ on a crucial policy issue – Simkin supports bringing back school resources officers, while Joyner does not. Here’s Simkin speaking to WORT last month.
“The police were called to the school 63 times in the first two months (of the school year). What that indicates to me is that the police are already there. The purpose of the resource officers was to build relationships with the students to help de-escalate situations before they happened and to be a resource for the students. When we eliminated them without having other resources in place, we created a void for the students,” Simkin says.
While seat 3 was the only officially contested race, the school board’s 4th seat, held by school board president Ali Muldrow, saw a write-in campaign by local conservative blogger David Blaska.
Muldrow easily beat Blaska. But that race had significantly more write-in votes than any other race on the Madison ballot, with Muldrow getting around 88%t of the vote and write-ins comprising around 11%. Typically, write-in campaigns hover around 1-2%.
The final seat on the Madison school board, seat five, saw Nichelle Nichols winning in an uncontested race. Nichols, an administrative employee within the district, told the State Journal that she is against bringing SROs back into Madison schools, and that she plans on focusing on staff retention and hiring throughout the district.
Zooming out statewide, Milwaukee saw a historic day, as Cavalier Johnson became the city’s first elected Black mayor. Johnson has been acting mayor since December, after Tom Barrett resigned his position to serve as a US ambassador.
Cavalier Johnson isn’t Milwaukee’s first Black mayor. That title belongs to Marvin Pratt, who assumed office eighteen years ago , when a previous mayor resigned. Pratt then lost in the general election to… former mayor Tom Barrett.
Johnson beat out conservative Bob Donovan, winning 68% of the vote.
Mayor Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he was thankful for the work Pratt had done for the city, and that he was ready to address the many issues facing the city of Milwaukee.
Some judges were also on the ballot. One upset there, as GOP backed Judge Maria Lazar defeated incumbent Lori Kornblum. Kornblum, a liberal leaning judge appointed by Governor Evers, helped to keep a liberal-conservative split on the District two Court of Appeals in southeastern Wisconsin. Lazar, whose campaign prominently featured images of the Christmas Parade tragedy in Waukesha, was endorsed in the campaign by 2020 presidential election investigator Michael Gableman.
The Madison Clerk’s Office reports that ten voters cast provisional ballots across the city yesterday. If you’re one of those ten, and want to have your ballot counted for the final tally, you must provide any missing documents to the city clerk’s office by 4PM on Friday.
Outgoing Dane County Supervisors have one last meeting tomorrow night, when they’ll say their goodbyes.
Photo courtesy: Nate Wegehaupt / WORT News Team