Whom to vote for Tuesday

Tuesday is the first (or second, if you had a primary election in February) of five (or six) scheduled elections this year.

Tuesday is the correctly scheduled election for municipal officials, county supervisors, school boards and circuit and appeals judges. Oh, and there’s a presidential primary, not that many Wisconsinites have noticed. (More about that later.)

Here in Ripon, our ballot is full — mayor and four City Council seats, three Board of Education seats, and a school referendum, in addition to the presidential primary.

On or shortly before election days, WTMJ radio’s Charlie Sykes runs a segment in which he asks people who they’re voting for. The implication is that the caller supports someone enough to vote for that candidate, instead of voting for a candidate because he or she is the lesser of two evils.

(By the way: What you are about to read represents my opinion, and only my opinion, and not necessarily the opinion of anyone or any organization with any connection whatsoever to myself, past, present or future.)

In Ripon, only one alderman is running for reelection — Ald. Rollie Peabody in District 2. He is running against a challenger of whom I choose only to say that that person should not be representing Ripon in any elective body. And that’s all I’ll say about her.

I can say much nicer things about Rollie, without reservation. I’ve known Rollie for almost 12 years, since we started going to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Put it this way: I’m taller than he is, but I look up to him.

Rollie has been on the City Council for four years, which have been, to use the Chinese curse, interesting times. The Boca Grande whatever-you’d-like-to-call-it is in the lawyers’ hands now, and that’s all that appears to be happening with it. Sandmar Village was stalled due to drainage issues, which appear to be resolved, and so construction is slowly starting to take shape.

The Boca, uh, thing notwithstanding, if you walk through downtown Ripon, you notice that most of the storefronts are still full. Positive things have gone on in Ripon, including in downtown Ripon, even though the Boca Grande project isn’t where it should be now. The Treasury building, vacant for years, now has a restaurant in it. The Campus Theatre was renovated, as was, thanks to Boca, Roadhouse Pizza. One Mexican restaurant closed, Dos Gringos, but another has opened, Ocampo’s. One of Rollie’s colleagues on the City Council, Ald. Howard Hansen, spearheaded a downtown skating rink, which is one of the coolest improvements in Ripon in a long time. (When the winter cooperates, that is.)

Rollie is the type of person that the City Council needs — someone with a clear head and sound judgment who seeks solutions, instead of someone who will be a bomb-thrower who will contribute to no solution whatsoever, based on track record.

The Board of Education race is tough to choose because, truthfully, all of the candidates are impressive. Andy Lyke has been on the school board since 2003. Heather Hartling has been quite involved in schools, and Brian Reilly has interesting things to say on his Ripon Commonwealth Press blog. So choosing two of those three won’t be easy.

One candidate I am definitely voting for is Dan Zimmerman. I have argued here before that the biggest problem the Board of Education has, dating back as long as we’ve been in Ripon (which means probably before that too), is its lack of capability or disinterest in properly vetting school administration proposals. One example is the wrongheaded purchase of property on Ripon’s north side for a middle school in 2004 — the wrong school in the wrong place at any time. That is not to say that the schools are bad at all, but the school board is supposed to evaluate administration proposals, not merely rubber-stamp them.

From what I’ve seen of Zimmerman from his Facebook page and his appearance in the League of Women Voters candidate forum, I think you can rest assured that Zimmerman will be no one’s rubber stamp. He is one of the three I will vote for for the Board of Education Tuesday.

I decided to vote for the land purchase referendum. For several reasons, it’s a better option than the north-side site school district voters (wrongly) approved in 2004.

The presidential race has gotten surprisingly little attention in Wisconsin. I don’t believe I have seen a single yard sign,  and the TV commercials suddenly showed up a couple weeks ago like, well, use your favorite unpleasant simile.

I believe Mitt Romney will end up with the Republican presidential nomination. That makes Tuesday’s primary not particularly important in the GOP scheme of things. Therefore, instead of voting for any of the four, I’m going to write in my choice of candidate, and suggest you do too:


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