Progressives move into Verona, run for office

Third in a series. Click for part 1 and part 2.

“Verona has never seen an election cycle like this,” The Verona Press marveled after the April 2013 municipal election. No one could remember when all four incumbent aldermen in an election cycle had been challenged, much less defeated.

More remarkably, three of their four challengers had just moved to town within the year. Two of them were still in their 20s; another was only 31. All were backed by the liberal machine — the Dane County Democratic Party and the public employees unions. The Gang of Four ran a well-funded, sophisticated campaign borrowed from the state Legislature. The four incumbent aldermen never knew what hit them.

“Some people saw a progressive sweep bringing in new ideas and opening the doors to more public interaction. Others saw big-city politics coming in to play, with Dane County, public unions and other outside groups attempting to influence the newcomers,” The Verona Press wrote. On paper, spring elections are nonpartisan, but you wouldn’t know it watching from ground level. In Dane County, the Democratic Party endorses even in school board elections. The metro news media seem not to care.

The aldermanic challengers were young. Most of them were new to Verona, veterans of politics but inexperienced in governance, arrogant and naive at the same time. All are big-government progressives. Almost fantastically, their Number One priority once in office was to preserve the jobs of the city’s unionized firefighters — all four of them!

  • There was 27-year-old Elizabeth Doyle, who moved into town a scant eight months before her election in April 2013. She listed as her qualifications “Obama for America Verona fellow 2012 and EarthSave Twin Cities organizer 2011-2012.”
  • Another was Dale Yurs, age 25, vice president of the Verona school staff union. He also moved into town the year before his election last year, although he had lived in town as a minor. Yurs announced his candidacy last summer while working on Sondy Pope’s Democratic Assembly campaign.
  • Heather Reekie was a unionized teacher in the Monona Grove district. The only one of the four with any substantial residence in Verona, she was, at age 41, the most mature.
  • Lucas Diaz, 31, was an employee of the sprawling Epic health software campus that, ironically, the old guard had brought into town from Madison. Diaz also moved to Verona only the year before.



Lucas Diaz

Diaz co-founded the leftwing blog Forward Lookout with former Madison alderman and former Progressive Dane chairman Brenda Konkel. (Diaz celebrated the Chicago teachers strike in September 2012 with the salutation “Solidarity!”) He bad-mouthed former Doyle administration official (now Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce president) Zach Brandon as “a Dave Blaska Democrat.” (Now that is mean!) Progressive Dane is a local political party to the left even of Madison Democrats.

The Verona Press reported at the time, “Some skeptics saw in the campaigns evidence of an incursion of partisan politics into races that have always been nonpartisan, and there was some truth to the claims.”

Tomorrow: Havoc on the City Council 

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