Tagwisconsin

Stories about Wisconsin

Voters in Madison, Wisconsin, advised the city to set term limits and maintain the size of the Common Council

With 98.7% of precincts reporting, voters in Madison, Wis., advised the city to set term limits and maintain the size of the Common Council. Voters rejected the other two ballot questions. All four questions were non-binding advisory questions.

Question 4, which advised the council to adopt term limits of 12 consecutive years for alderpersons, was approved with 70.9% of the vote. 

Question 1 would have advised Madison to transition to a full-time Common Council beginning with the spring 2023 election; with members earning approximately $45,000 to $71,00 per year, or 50% to 80% of the Adjusted Median Income for Dane County for a single parent with two children. It was defeated in a vote of 58.2% opposed to 41.8% in favor.

Question 2 was designed to ask voters about the size of the 20-member Madison Common Council. It asked voters if the council should be reduced, increased, or remain the existing size. The vote breakdown was as follows according to unofficial election results:

• 16.5% in favor of reducing the size

• 13.4% in favor of increasing the size

• 70.2% in favor of remaining the same size

Question 3 would have advised Madison to change the term length for alderpersons starting with the spring 2023 election from the existing two-year terms to four-year terms. It was defeated in a vote of 55.5% opposed to 44.5% in favor.

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Milwaukee voters elect four new members to the Board of School Directors

On April 6, Milwaukee voters elected four new members to serve on the Milwaukee Board of School Directors. The Board of School Directors oversees the Milwaukee Public Schools, Wisconsin’s largest school district. Four of the board’s nine seats were up for election.

Aisha Carr, Jilly Gokalgandhi, Marcela Garcia, and Henry Leonard will be sworn in on April 26, after winning their respective elections.

All four seats were open after three incumbents did not file for re-election and the fourth, Annie Woodward, did not submit the required number of signatures to appear on the ballot. Two of the four seats were uncontested: Garcia and Leonard ran unopposed in the races for Districts 6 and 7, respectively.

The elections in District 4 and 5 were both contested. In District 4, Carr, a former high school teacher in the district, defeated Dana Kelley, a community organizer and assistant pastor. In District 5, Gokalgandhi, an equity in education strategist, defeated Alex Brower, the former president of the district’s substitute teachers’ union.

Carr received endorsements from several local legislators including state Sen. Lena Taylor (D) and Rep. David Bowen (D). Gokalgandhi received endorsements from five incumbent school board members including Larry Miller, her district’s outgoing incumbent.

Both Kelley and Brower received endorsements from the local and national Democratic Socialists of America and Milwaukee County Supervisor, Ryan Clancy.

This election will change the number of school board members endorsed by the city’s largest teachers’ union, the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA). Following the 2019 school board elections, all nine members had been endorsed by the MTEA for “the first time in memory” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Annysa Johnson.

The number of MTEA-endorsed school board members will decrease to six. Both Kelley and Brower had been endorsed by the union. The union endorsed Leonard in the uncontested District 7 race and did not issue an endorsement in the uncontested District 6 race.



Jill Underly wins Wisconsin’s Superintendent of Public Instruction election

Jill Underly defeated Deborah Kerr in the nonpartisan election for Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction on Apr. 6. Decision Desk HQ called the race at 9:15 p.m. CT, and the Associated Press called the race at 9:30 p.m. CT. With 67% of precincts reporting, Underly led with 57% of the vote to Kerr’s 43%.

Kerr and Underly had advanced to the general election with 26.5% and 27.3% of the Feb. 16 primary vote, respectively. Incumbent Carolyn Stanford Taylor, who was appointed in 2019 by the state’s current governor and former Superintendent Tony Evers (D), announced in January 2020 that she would not run for a full term.

Though the race was officially nonpartisan, both candidates were affiliated with the Democratic Party. Underly was endorsed by two former Wisconsin state superintendents, four Democratic members of Congress, and 29 Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Legislature. In her own words, Kerr she was a “pragmatic Democrat with conservative values.” She received endorsements from state Senators Alberta Darling (R) and Lena Taylor (D).

Re-implementing in-person schooling in response to the coronavirus and the allocation of school funding were central issues in the race, according to the Associated Press. Kerr said her plan would have school reopenings be mandatory across the state, and Underly said her plan for reopenings would have local school districts decide when they reopen. In regards to school funding, Kerr supported the public funding of school vouchers and charter schools, while Underly opposed the public funding of school vouchers and charter schools.



Wisconsin general election to be held April 6

The statewide general election for Wisconsin is on April 6. The primary was held on Feb. 16, and the filing deadline to run passed on Jan. 5. Candidates are running in elections for the following offices: 

• Superintendent of Public Instruction

• Special elections for state Senate District 13 and Assembly District 89

• Wisconsin Court of Appeals

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas: 

• Dane and Milwaukee Counties

• The cities of Madison and Milwaukee

• DeForest Area School District

• Madison Metropolitan School District

• McFarland School District

• Middleton-Cross Plains School District

• Milwaukee Public Schools

• Sun Prairie Area School District

• Verona Area School District

Milwaukee is the 31st-largest city in the United States by population, while Madison is the 82nd. The seven school districts holding elections on April 6 served 132,027 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

Wisconsin has a divided government where no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Assembly and Senate, while Governor Tony Evers is a Democrat.

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Deborah Kerr, Jill Underly running in Wisconsin State Superintendent race

Deborah Kerr and Jill Underly are running in the nonpartisan election for Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction on April 6, 2021. 

The candidates advanced as the top-two finishers from the February 16, 2021 primary. Kerr, a former school district superintendent, received 26.5% of the primary vote, and Underly, a current school district superintendent, received 27.3%. The primary saw the second-highest turnout for a Wisconsin State Superintendent race in the past 20 years.

Though the race is officially nonpartisan, both candidates are affiliated with the Democratic Party. As of March 18, Underly has been endorsed by two former Wisconsin state superintendents, four Democratic members of Congress, and 25 Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Legislature. Leading up to the primary, Kerr said she was a “pragmatic Democrat.” She has received endorsements from several local school board members and state Senator Alberta Darling (R). Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D), who served as superintendent from 2009 to 2019, has not endorsed either Underly or Kerr.

Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor, whom Evers appointed as his successor, announced on January 13, 2020, that she would not seek re-election. The decision marked the first time in 20 years that an incumbent declined to enter the race.



Jill Underly, Deborah Kerr advance from Wisconsin superintendent of public instruction primary

The statewide spring primary for Wisconsin was held on Feb. 16, 2021. If two or fewer candidates filed for each seat on the ballot, the primary was canceled and the candidates automatically advanced to the general election on April 6.

The primary for the Wisconsin superintendent of public instruction was the only statewide nonpartisan race on the ballot. Incumbent Carolyn Stanford Taylor did not file to run for election. Taylor was first appointed to the position in January 2019 by Gov. Tony Evers (D), who resigned the seat after being elected governor in 2018. Seven candidates filed to run in the race. According to unofficial results, the highest number of votes went to Jill Underly (27.3%) and Deborah Kerr (26.5%). Both candidates advanced to the general election.

Two partisan state legislative special elections were on the otherwise nonpartisan ballot. 

Wisconsin state Senate District 13 became vacant on Jan. 1 after Scott Fitzgerald (R) was elected to the U.S. House. One Democrat, three Republicans, and two independent candidates filed for the seat. John Jagler defeated Todd Menzel and Don Pridemore in the Republican primary, receiving 57.1% of the unofficial vote. He faces Melissa Winker (D), Ben Schmitz (American Solidarity Party), and Spencer Zimmerman (Trump Conservative Party) in the general election.

State Assembly District 89 became vacant on Dec. 2, 2020, after John Nygren (R) resigned his seat to work in the private sector. One Democrat and five Republicans filed for the seat. Elijah Behnke won the Republican primary with 44.5% of the unofficial vote. He faces Karl Jaeger (D) in the general election.

The general election ballot will feature more offices, including three state appellate court seats and local nonpartisan seats.

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Previewing Wisconsin’s spring primary elections on Feb. 16

The statewide spring primary for Wisconsin is on February 16, 2021. The filing deadline to run passed on January 5. If two or fewer candidates filed for each seat on the ballot, the primary was canceled and the candidates automatically advanced to the general election scheduled for April 6.

Wisconsin’s spring elections feature nonpartisan offices, and the fall elections feature partisan offices. However, two partisan state legislative special elections are on the otherwise-nonpartisan ballot. Wisconsin State Senate District 13 became vacant on January 1 after Scott Fitzgerald (R) was elected to the U.S. House. State Assembly District 89 became vacant on December 2, 2020, after John Nygren (R) resigned his seat to work in the private sector.

Candidates are also running in the nonpartisan election for the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Ballotpedia is also covering local primaries in the following areas: 

• Dane County (1 seats)

• Milwaukee County (2 seats)

• Madison (3 seats)

• Middleton-Cross Plains Board of Education (1 seat)

• Milwaukee Board of School Directors (2 seats)

The general election ballot will feature more offices, including three state appellate court seats.

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Four states have ended their statewide mask requirements

New Jersey became the first state to implement a statewide mask order in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on April 10, 2020. Seven other states implemented mask orders later in April 2020 and, in total, 39 states have issued statewide mask requirements at some point during the pandemic.

In recent weeks, states have begun to repeal mask requirements or allow them to expire. Today, thirty-five states have statewide mask orders, including all 23 states with Democratic governors and 12 out of the 27 states with Republican governors.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) announced he is letting the state’s face-covering requirement expire on Feb. 12. Former Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued the face-covering requirement on July 15, 2020. 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) lifted her state’s mask order on Feb. 7. Reynolds first issued the face-covering requirement on Nov. 17.

The Wisconsin State Assembly also voted 52-42 on a resolution to end the statewide mask mandate and coronavirus public health emergency on Feb. 4. In response, Gov. Tony Evers (D) immediately issued two new orders reestablishing the public health emergency and mask mandate. All Democrats and seven Republicans voted against the resolution. Republican legislative leadership is challenging the mandate in the state Supreme Court. The Wisconsin State Senate voted 18-13 to overturn Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) coronavirus emergency order on Jan. 26. 

Mississippi became the first state to lift a statewide mask requirement on Sept. 30, 2020, followed by North Dakota on Jan. 18, 2021. Montana is the fourth state to lift a statewide mask order. Iowa was the third state to lift a statewide public mask mandate. All four states that have lifted statewide face covering requirements have Republican governors.



Candidate filing deadline in Dane County, Wisconsin, is Jan. 5, 2021

The filing deadline to run for elected office in Dane County, Wisconsin, is on January 5, 2021. Prospective candidates may file for county executive, two of the 37 county supervisor seats, and seven circuit court judgeships. The offices of county executive and circuit court judges are up for regular election in 2021, but the county supervisor seats for District 4 and District 12 are up for special election due to vacancies on the board.

The primary is scheduled for February 16, and the general election is scheduled for April 6, 2021.

Dane County in Wisconsin had a population of 531,273 in 2013, according to the United States Census Bureau. 

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Wisconsin State Senate District 13 special election set for Apr. 6, 2021

Election officials have scheduled a special election for the District 13 seat in the Wisconsin State Senate on Apr. 6, 2021. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said he will resign on Jan. 1 before he is sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3. Fitzgerald was elected to Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District on Nov. 3. The primary is on Feb. 16, and the filing deadline is on Jan. 8.