Suburban Voters Support County Board Reform

Voters in 12 communities say yes to reduced, part-time Milwaukee County Board in referendum on primary election ballot.

Voters in 12 suburban Milwaukee communities overwhelmingly showed support for a smaller, part-time Milwaukee County Board in Tuesday's election.

The two-part, non-binding referendum first asked voters if the size of the County Board should be reduced from 18 to nine members; that was supported by 84 percent of voters. Eighty-two percent of voters also supported making the position of County Supervisor part-time. 
The referendum questions appeared on the ballot in Bayside, Brown Deer, Cudahy, Fox Point, Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, River Hills, Shorewood, West Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay.

The proposal to reduce the size and salary of the County Board was advocated by County Supervisor Joseph Rice of Whitefish Bay. The board's redistricting plan eliminated his seat, and divided Whitefish Bay into two supervisory districts — District 13, that also represents portions of central and west Milwaukee, and District 3, which represents Shorewood and the east side of Milwaukee. The change split Whitefish Bay's suburban representation on the board into two districts with more city representation and more liberal constituencies.

Incumbent District 13 Supervisor Willie Johnson Jr. survived a challenge from Bria Grant in Tuesday's election, and District 3 Supervisor Gerry Broderick retained his seat in an uncontested election.

Rice issued a statement Wednesday saying the results of the referenda illustrate a desire to reform the County Board.        

“Despite a political environment often characterized by division and disagreement, the results of these referenda demonstrate that voters can agree on one thing — reform of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors is overdue,” Rice said. 
In December, the County Board refused to place the questions on a county-wide referendum. Rice thanked municipal government leaders for placing the ballot questions before the voters on Tuesday.  

“Despite the board’s refusal to allow voters to be heard throughout the county, these referenda results send a loud and clear message that reform is favored,” said Rice. 
“The future County Board should carefully consider this clear mandate and take steps to reform its governance process and procedures. Continuing to ignore the will of the electorate can serve only to reinforce the public sentiment that the County Board is not listening.” 

robert heule April 05, 2012 at 01:24 PM
The only problem with the downsizing of the Board is that the districts will become larger. Therefore there will be more constituents to reach in campaigns and more special interest money will be contributed.
Kay April 05, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I'm confused as to why the support for this is so high, yet the current district board members who didn't even want the constituents input , still kept their positions??
digitalhermit April 05, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Kay, this was a non-binding referendum (advisory only) and the answer is obvious: the Milwaukee County Board seems mostly populated with board members who are concerned with representing their own interests (including but not limited to keeping their positions and salary) above the interests of their constituents who are clearly demanding smaller government. To remedy this problem, pay close attention when the matter comes up for consideration again by the county board (and it surely will) and then vote out whoever stands in opposition to the will of the people.
Mike goldberg April 05, 2012 at 05:55 PM
County board members are so busy keeping their jobs, their not doing their jobs! Think they are going to vote themselves out?
Kay April 05, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Exactly my point..The number of Yes votes do not jive with the numbers of votes to replace the members that have already voiced there opinions..Were people voting on the advisory question, but not paying attention to the board races ??


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