Verona voters rout the progressives

Sixth and final in a series. Click for part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.

Say one thing for them, progressives fight to win — even if they have to stoop to playing the race card.

“The Democrats came after me in the last week of the campaign,” Mike Willett reports. His opponent put out a lit piece displaying the nonpartisan County Board candidate with the supposedly hated governor. “Mike Willett Stands With Scott Walker. Do You?” it screamed.

A last-minute mailer issued by teachers union candidate Patricia McPartland “basically called me a racist.” Willett responded quickly with a response piece over that last weekend of the campaign.

They waved the same bloody flag at Mayor Jon Hochkammer.  Over a photograph of the Capitol protestors, the hit piece distributed against him asked, “Do we want a mayor who uses the same tactics as Scott Walker?”

“I was accused of firing the firefighters,” Hochkammer marvels. He notes that the decision to open up hiring was made by the city’s Police and Fire Commission and is required by state law when a city-town fire district is dissolved. No one has been fired.

Hochkammer countered with the endorsements of nine current and former Verona aldermen and 11 surrounding mayors and village presidents — all nonpartisan.

The Verona independents raised campaign funds. In addition, a 501(c)4 organization associated with the Madison Area Builders Association sent out mailers crediting Hochkammer with keeping taxes low, streets safe, and encouraging responsible growth, without directly advocating his re-election. On his own behalf, the incumbent raised $20,000 for this election — including $800 in conduits through the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce.

Too often remaining on the sidelines in Dane County, “the business community woke up,” Hochkammer told Right Wisconsin. “We’ve got to keep that going.”

The normally placid spring election attracted 205 new registrations, whereas normally 50 might sign up during a fall presidential election.

  • Hochkammer won re-election as mayor 55% to 45% over Kemp.
  • Independents took back the only contested seat on the Verona City Council. Defeated in the bloodletting of 2013, Evan Touchett, age 43, regained a seat on the City Council. The 14-year resident of Verona and technology manager at a private engineering firm beat appointed alderman Michael Bare, 60% to 40%. The three remaining independent candidates drew no opponents. Bartlett credits Together for Verona’s visible and proactive stance for warding off more progressive challengers.
  • Proudly labeling himself a conservative, Mike Willett returned to the County Board by beating teachers union official Patricia McPartland, Hotchkiss’ designated successor. He won 58% to 42% in a campaign season in which conservatives lost two more seats elsewhere in Dane County to drop to only seven members in the 37-member board.



“I ran heavy with the broken 911 [emergency call] system,” Willett relates. It was a good issue. Even Madison Mayor Paul Soglin had criticized Dane County’s service. (“Dane County 911 Center faces problems with its new dispatch system.”)

Mike Willett

The three independent candidates did not “go negative,” Bartlett said, but they did “point out the differences. Just pointing out the differences was huge.”

Tax relief: “I reminded people of our prior commitment,” Mayor Hochkammer told Right Wisconsin, “that when the Epic [tax incremental finance district] dissolves in 2015, they will get $1.73 million of property tax relief.” The 8% to 10% tax break was baked in well before the progressive interlopers came to town.

Public safety: “We continued to remind people that they need to feel safe where they live, work, and play.” The progressives’ priorities, by contrast, “were in the wrong place. They were willing to not invest as much in public safety.”

Partisanship: “We also heard from people that they didn’t like what they saw as an organized bloc,” Hochkammer told this author. The progressives raised campaign funds as a bloc. They were supported as a bloc by the Dane County Democratic Party. They were endorsed by elected Democrats like U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, State Rep. Diane Hesselbein, Sheriff David Mahoney, District Attorney Ismael Osanne — Democrats, all. The latter is a candidate for state attorney general.

As for Together for Verona, Nancy Bartlett is trying to sort through the intricacies of political free speech in the face of the progressive mandate to regulate, restrict, ration, and redistribute that speech. Attorneys and election clerks are pondering the issue.

“It’s a fine line between free speech and where this line crosses,” says citizen Bartlett. “The group is growing. It’s just a huge group of people concerned about the city.”

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