LETTER: Referendum rejection showed need to keep watch on board

To Ozaukee Press:

I attended the Jan. 15 Ozaukee County Board meeting to listen to the debate over Resolution 19-40, which would have placed an advisory referendum on the April ballot asking voters if future redistricting maps should be created by a nonpartisan committee.

Unfortunately, the resolution was denied by a vote of 16 to 10 despite the reasoned and respectful arguments in favor of it made by the citizenry in attendance. In fact, all of the people who spoke did so in support of the resolution. Not one person spoke out against it. You would have thought that the resolution would be passed unanimously, much like the board’s October vote on their own salaries.

A couple of observations: One of the supervisors who spoke did so in a very dismissive fashion about the good citizens behind him who showed up to express their opinions. He asked, “How can we shut this down; how do we stop this?” as he gestured to the gallery, apparently upset that voters would ask for a referendum to be put to the people’s vote and warning that it “could happen again.”

He went on to say that he was initially going to vote against the resolution, but now was “going to hold his nose and vote for it.”  There is only one explanation for this—he is up for re-election and his vote was changed by the influence of his constituents who called, emailed, texted and wrote to him. I was one of them. This is my first observation: Making your voice heard can make a difference. Write to your elected officials and let them know your thoughts. Then do it again the next day.

The next observation is that not all of the supervisors are well informed. One supervisor seemed to misunderstand the intent of the referendum. He stated that it was a “partisan effort to influence the next election, an important election in November.”

He did not seem to understand that redistricting follows the census and is unrelated to the upcoming election. The take-home message here is that we all need to elect informed representatives who are capable of understanding the issues. Then we need to pay attention to the things they do and say.

So, go to the County Board meetings. Educate yourself on the issues. Speak up. Write to your representatives. If you can’t attend a meeting in person, at least read the minutes of the meetings published in Ozaukee Press. Vote for good people. If they turn out not to be good, vote them out. Democracy—use it or lose it.

Peggy Callahan



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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