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Referendum Recap..

Election, Schools, Referendum

Just a few bits of commentary on yesterday's referendum.

I was not surprised both passed, but the numbers did surprise me.

Knowing last April's ballot count of about 3,000, I'd expected the turnout for this referendum to be far lower than that.

In April '09, the ballot was long with items. 17 contesting candidates, 9 local, were listed. I would guess that close to 1,000 lawn signs were planted around the Bay.

Add in a few contested judge races, a state-wide Superintendent race, and every resident recevied a couple dozen pieces of mail, and some robo-calls, reminding people to vote (for them.) -- Not to mention the door-to-door effort by candidates saying hello.

So with all that mail, and all that media attention, 3,000 voters came out in April. 4,000 voters came out for the referendum.

There's an irony that more people will vote on a referendum that might cost ~$40m over 20 years, than will evaluate and vote for 9 village leaders, who spend $51m EVERY YEAR. (Fun with math: that's $1+ billion over 20 years.)

(One blog commentor suggested that's because there's a lack of differentiation between candidates. Indeed, local races can come down to popularity contests, versus substantitive ones, no doubt.)

With the high voter turnout, the "ramming this through / scheduling for low turnout" argument was deflated. People came out to vote. Lots.

--

I think local leaders should take note that 31% of the electorate did not vote for Q1. Q1 was nicely set up as a net-tax wash for (mostly*) no-brainer items like fixing roofs, almost making it a "who wants ice cream?" election. But a third of our neighbors didn't go for that, so you have to respect why.

Perhaps some of the 31% were perhaps private school families, some didn't like the money spent on security improvements, maybe a few didn't want to fix roofs, or wanted maintenance to be performed piece by piece, but most (I imagine) were voting to reduce tax burden, plain and simple.

The tax-burden voter jumps to 48% for Q2, although with Q2's menu of (optional) improvements, there's less of a conclusion to draw. Important, still.

--

A quote from the paper from the CWFB group caught my eye, that they were "surprised and disappointed for the people of Whitefish Bay."

Surprised that both passed? Disappointed for all of Whitefish Bay, that a majority of voters voluntarily chose to be taxed more for schools?

I'd go the opposite way.  No surprise nor disappointment .. it confirmed by vote, something about us, about our appreciation of education, and a willingness to dig deeper for students, even in a terrible economy.

Not everyone is happy today, but that's the nature of taking a measure to the electorate.

But "the people of Whitefish Bay" aren't disappointed today.  I'd suggest we are blessed that the community did some personal financial calculus and voted for more pain and sacrifice.

I'm thankful to live here.

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