Young People Turn Out on Election Night

WHITEWATER – As the polls closed and the votes were tallied on the night of the 2018 Midterm Elections, students throughout the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater were busy talking politics and waiting for the results.

The Midterm Elections were held on Tuesday, Nov. 6, and the polls in the University Center’s Hamilton Room were buzzing all day.

The Midterm Elections this year were of great importance, especially to college students and young people in general. This was the first election in which registered voters aged 18-29 outnumbered other age groups.

This year also boasted the highest voter turnout for a Midterm Election since 1966, according to the United States Election Project.

Just over 47 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot this year, which is up from 36.7 percent of voters in 2014.

Carter Secor is a senior and political science major at UWW. He had been paying attention to the polls and results from around the country, even while he was in line to vote.

Secor considers himself very politically active. He has voted in every election since he became an eligible voter. He sees voting in all elections as a responsibility and thinks everyone who is eligible should exercise that right.

“[Voting] is one of the few things you have to do as an American,” Secor said. “There is no reason not to vote if you pay attention to politics.”

Secor believes that the Midterms are one of the most important elections to vote in, second only to the Primaries. According to Secor, the Midterms decide the policies that have the most immediate impact on day to day life.

Many other students at the polls were concerned on how this election will affect their lives. Jon Gagner is currently attending graduate school at UWW. Gagner aligned with several of the views of Tony Evers, a Democrat who won the race for governor in Wisconsin.

“I do really like Tony’s views on education and I believe it will be a good thing for our state to improve our education system,” Gagner said. “I know educators as well as current students are pretty happy overall about the outcome.”

Despite Gagner’s support for Evers, he voted for an independent candidate. He does not consider his vote wasted, even though his candidate was not predicted to get many votes.

“People should vote for the people they trust the most instead of sticking to the two parties,” Gagner said. “Many people, when supporting an independent… just don’t vote at all. By doing that you are just giving the people you don’t want in office more of a chance.”

For Gagner, this election was important because of the potential impact to education and gun laws in Wisconsin. Other students were more concerned with issues in other states, however.

Connor Moore, a senior at UWW spoke against laws that some states have enacted that make it difficult for minority voters to vote.

This issue appears in Alabama, where several laws have been passed over the last five years making it harder for those living in predominantly black areas to vote.

These laws include requiring specific types of identification, a system that listed several thousand registered voters inactive and a law that prevents money transfers between political action committees.

Several predominantly black counties in Alabama have also had polling places and driver’s license offices closed, forcing those living in the counties to commute to vote or register.

“We shouldn’t be limiting people or making it hard for people to fulfill one of their American rights,” Moore said.

Moore is not a registered voter in Alabama but hopes that voting in his state’s Midterm and speaking out about this issue will prevent it from happening in other states.

An aura of hope and positivity could be felt around the campus as students in Whitewater kept the polling places busy on election night.

As young people throughout the country continue to take a more active role in politics, there is a feeling that voting trends and policy changes will come along with the rise.

County board hears 2019 budget presentation

JEFFERSON – Ben Wehmeier, Jefferson County Administrator, gave the Board of Supervisors their first look at the recommended 2019 budget for Jefferson County at their monthly meeting on Tuesday.

The proposed budget gives a total revenue of $81,080,576. This is an increase of $8,735,879 from 2018.

This increase comes from the use of one-time capital funds. These funds will go towards upgrading the communication system for the Sheriff’s Department, the cleanup and restoration of the area around the new county highway shop, new bike trails and heavier investment in county roads.

The bulk of the revenue is coming from a total property tax levy of $29,650,834. This includes a non-countywide tax levy on the Health Department and County Library System of $863,411 and $1,151,011 respectively.

An increase in the revenue will also come from sales tax, including sales tax on purchases from online stores. Wehmeier gave a “conservative” estimate of $6,325,000 added from the sales tax but expects the actual number to be higher.

The 2019 budget also sees a 4.07 percent decrease in the mill rate from 2018. The countywide mill rate has now returned to a level similar to what it was before the 2008 market crash. Meaning, tax rates have reached a normal level for homeowners in the county.

“We’re very proud of where our budget is tonight,” said Wehmeier, as he highlighted the communication and effort all the committees put into the budget.

Wehmeier spoke about many of the positives of the financial outlook of the county.

Jefferson County has limited debt. The only debt the county still faces is from the new highway shop. There is $14.27 million left in the project. It is expected to be paid off with ease.

Wehmeier also discussed the implementation of a strategic plan for the budget. This plan would focus on shared services, hiring new staff assistance, farmland preservation plans, housing studies and several other topics looking at the future of the county.

“If we can have a better impact being scientific… that’s some data we need to look at,” said Wehmeier. “Then we can look at [our goal] if it was achieved or not.”

Despite many positives for the county, it still faces some challenges.

Jefferson County faces problems related to the opiate crisis, which adds some financial strain, and is an issue faced by all departments.

There has been a loss of population in some municipalities, resulting in a conversation about how to attract new employees and businesses.

There will be a hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 23 where the public can give feedback on the budget.

The Finance Committee will then review proposed amendments on Nov. 8. The budget will be approved after considering the amendments on Nov. 13.

The proposed budget is currently on the county website.

In other action, the board on Tuesday:

  • A resolution was read in remembrance of Leon Zimdars who passed away on Sept. 30. Zimdars served on the County Board of Supervisors from 1988 to 2000.
  • Approved the sale of surplus real estate at the Lake Mills Highway Satellite Shop to highest bidder Chandler White for $60,000.

White had originally bid $140,000 for the land but rescinded his bid when he learned the land was 1.5 acres, not three as he previously thought. White then bid $60,000 which was accepted as being the estimated fair market value.

  • Disallowed the claim of Jeanne Vonachen for a refund on the cost of admission and reserved tickets she purchased to see Travis Tritt at the Jefferson County Fair, which was cancelled due to inclement weather.

The denial was based upon the disclaimer printed on the fair concert tickets.

  • Approved the purchases of new snow plow trucks and equipment.

Twelve trucks will be purchased from Lakeside International for $887,234.

The purchase of equipment including plows, spreaders, hydraulic controls and salt brine tanks will be through Monroe Truck Equipment and cost $1,187,520.

  • A proclamation was read announcing National 4-H week as Oct. 7 through Oct. 13.



Proposed increase of fines in Whitewater

The Whitewater Common Council debated an increase in fines related to damage of landmark properties on Tuesday night.

Previously, the fines for damage to a landmark property through vandalism or theft was not less than $450 nor more than $700. The proposed ordinance would increase this fine to not less than $1,000, not including the cost of damages to the property.

The ordinance would relate to both public landmarks, such as the Whitewater Effigy Mounds Preserve, and privately owned historical houses.

The debate that ensued raised questions about the fairness of the increased fines.

Councilman Lynn Binnie hinted at the “…possible unintended consequences…” that could go along with people unknowingly damaging a landmark.

The council discussed the potential consequences and looked for a way to use the proposed fines as a preventative to discourage vandalism and theft in the first place. The biggest concern was on how to make people aware of the new fine.

Many of the council members agreed that all landmarks, public and private, must have proper signage distinguishing them from other buildings and houses within the city. According to Pat Blackmer, a member of the Landmark Committee, all privately owned historic houses have a boulder with a plaque noting them as a historical landmark.

“Someone committing vandalism is not looking for a sign,” said Councilman Jimmy Schulgit.

Schulgit proposed the ordinance at an earlier date, according the Binnie, and was in favor of it despite hesitation by other council members.

This ordinance was tabled for a later date after debate. It was concluded that more research needed to be done on the topic.

Despite the proposed amendment being tabled, the increase in the fine for damage to landmarks is following a trend that started during the Sept. 4 meeting related to the increasing of fines for many other offences.

The Sept. 4 meeting discussed the possibility of raising the fines for a variety of offences from disobeying a police officer to trespassing. All the fines discussed in the meeting were tabled for a later date.

The increase in the fine for damage to landmarks will be included in this later discussion.

Council budget review

City Manager Cameron Clapper introduced the proposed 2019 city budget on Tuesday night.

The proposed 2019 budget will be $26,259,403, with a general fund of $9,658,650.

The operating budget will include a property tax levy of $3,838,047. This is an increase from the 2018 budget by $364,247. The increase comes from the loss of $312,771 in one-time funds used in the 2018 budget.

The city will also receive a decrease in state funding for shared municipal services.

These are services provided by the city and used by the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, such as emergency services and the use of the Wastewater Treatment Plant. All cities in Wisconsin with a UW campus receive this funding.

While the city should expect a payment of $281,417 for the services, the actual payment will be about 38 percent of that amount, according to Clapper.

“[The reduced funding] concentrates the reliance on other local property owners to carry the cost of providing municipal services,” Clapper said. “Which adds to the overall local property tax.”

There were seven major capital projects Clapper mentioned in the 2019 budget. The Milwaukee Street reconstruction, the Old Mill Dam repairs, a new self-contained breathing apparatus for the fire station and a water main replacement on Ann Street were considered “core” items. Street light replacements, lake drawdowns and dredging, and construction on the Cravath Lake Amphitheater were included to “…enhance existing services.”

The budget presented Tuesday night is only a proposed budget. The Finance Committee will meet publicly on Oct. 4, 11 and 18 to review the 2019 budget.

A presentation of the changes will be given during the Nov. 8 meeting. The budget will likely be approved at the public hearing on Nov. 20.

In other action, the Common Council on Tuesday:

  • Heard a proclamation acknowledging CROP Walk Day as Oct. 7. Registration is at 12:30 p.m., the walk starts at 1 p.m. The event will start at Fairhaven Senior Services and it will end at the Armory. This will be Whitewater’s 28th year hosting a Crop Hunger Walk.
  • Approved a change in parking restrictions, making it illegal to park on Church Street between 2 and 5 a.m. year-round.
  • Approved a city ordinance banning the sale and possession of electronic cigarettes to minors. The new fines are $400 from $100 for the first offense, and $500 from $200 for the second offense.
  • Approved a roofing contract worth $38,689 to replace the aged and leaky roof of the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Whitewater.

My Other Passion

As noted in my “About Me,” writing and history are the two things I enjoy most. While this is true, there is one other thing that I consider a passion. Something so large and impactful, not just in my own life, but around the world. That thing, is soccer.

Since I was a little kid, I played soccer. Kindergarten through high school I played competitively, however, in college I play only for fun.

I follow all of the large European leagues: The Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga, La Liga, and Ligue 1. While each league offers plenty of competition and excitement, the Bundesliga in Germany holds the key to my heart.

I am the biggest fan of Borussia Dortmund, a team from Dortmund, Germany. Since I watched them beat Real Madrid, a team I have never been fond of, 4-1 in the Champions League in 2013, I have tried to see each one of their games.

They are not the easiest team to follow, however. Despite having a history as one of the tops teams in Germany, since I became a fan, they have been constantly shadowed by Bayern Munich.  Several of their most recent seasons have been struggles, as they have lost some of their brightest talent to bigger teams.

Unsuccessful seasons aside, I feel something different this year with Dortmund. The first two games of their season produced one win and one draw. Although Dortmund was unable to find the net in the second game against Hannover, they were undoubtedly the  better team.

If Dortmund are able to fix their goal scoring problem with latest signing, Spanish striker Paco Alcacer, I think they will be a force to be reckoned with. Maybe, just maybe, even win the title for the first time since the 2011-12 season.