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'Humbled' Mlada Earns Victory in Port Washington Mayoral Race

The Port Washington mayoral race wasn't the only close one in Tuesday's election, which also saw a higher level of participation than usual, as well as an extra dose of partisan thinking.

Turnout was solid and races were competitive throughout Port Washington and Saukville on Tuesday as voters chose a new mayor, two aldermen and school board members, on top of voting in the presidential primaries.

In the biggest local race of all, defeated 1,555-1,370 to win a term as mayor of Port Washington. He'll replace outgoing mayor Scott Huebner.

"I'm beyond excited and obviously very humbled and honored; I’m very energized," Mlada said after learning of his victory. "My commitment is to Port Washington … to its residents, to business leaders, to property owners, to council at the city staff — and that’s everybody, whether you voted for me or not."

While Vollmar was obviously disappointed that he won’t be taking the reins as the next city leader, he still had a positive outlook on its future.

"I'm disappointed and I remain an alderman and I’m sure I can work with (Tom)," Vollmar said. "He said during his campaign he could move the city forward, and I’m going to hold him to his word."

Mlada said he thinks working with the entire council, including Vollmar, will lead to a lot of great things for the city.

"The brighter days that are even forthcoming are because of the work that the (council and city staff) collectively have done — I’ve been very fortunate in the sense that I’ve been able to partner with, already, and create effective relationships with (all council members) and I look forward to working with all of them," Mlada said. "Jim’s a part of that, I certainly look forward to working closely with him … I’ve certainly tried really hard to make sure he knows I am grateful for his service and in that regard I’m hopeful it will be a great partnership."

Port aldermanic seats see little change

There were two contested aldermanic races for the Port Washington Common Council, and incumbents will fill both spots.

Incumbent faced newcomer in the race for the . Larson, who has been on the council for four years, won with a 197-91 margin, 67 percent of the vote.

"I think people appreciate the things I've done to represent them and they've given me the opportunity to continue to do that, and I'm very grateful and humbled,” Larson said. "I'm proud of my voting record and I'll continue along that same path and continue to work hard to build the downtown and expand upon what we've done. I want to work on developing the coal dock and making Port even more of a destination than it is now."

Incumbents and faced each other in the race for the spot, . Babcock had served in what was formerly the 4th District. Neumyer won by a 220-175 margin.

"I didn't like being pitted against another incumbent,” Neumyer said after results came in on Tuesday. “Burt Babcock is a really nice man who has been very dedicated to the city, so I take no enjoyment in beating him. … Now I'm going to have to convince the other residents who voted for Burt that I can represent them. The most important part is being responsive to constituents' concerns when they have them and mediating problems they might have."

Babcock shared the sense of regret that the situation even existed in the first place.

“I just want to wish Paul all the best, and … he certainly was complimentary with what he had to say about the work that I had done and things that he had done for me,” Babcock said. “If something is available I would certainly like to continue to work on something with city.”

Douglas Biggs was the , and takes the seat with 145 votes. There was one write-in vote in his race.

School Board welcomes two new members

The was a big one, with six candidates vying for three positions and a lot of controversial debates surrounding teacher contracts and other fiscal issues.

In the end, and came out on top for the two seats representing the city of Port. Mueller had 2,028 votes and Fristch had 1,700. Losing candidates and had 1,632 votes and 1,587 votes, respectively.

"I just want to stress my thanks to all those that supported me not only at the polls but also with signs and everything throughout the campaign," Fristch said. "Right now, I’m excited to serve Port Washington and the students … and I really look forward to continuing the great education that is established here in Port."

Mueller did not return a call seeking comment on Tuesday night, but Fritsch said she knows Mueller personally and looks forward to serving with her.

"I think she’s a wonderful person and it will be good to serve with someone that I do have a lot of respect for," Fritsch said.

For the Saukville seat, incumbent walked away with the win with 2,127 votes over newcomer John Soper’s 1,466.

"I'm really happy to be able to continue to serve the community the way I've always done,” Gremming said. "We have a lot of positive things to celebrate and we stuck to the positive parts of the campaign, sharing the wonderful things that we've done fiscally and for our district. … We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we're in the middle of a lot of projects, so it's back to business as usual."

Nonpartisan races get political

Port Washington City Adminstrator Mark Grams said the city typically sees about one-third of its voting population hit the polls.

“The State GAB estimated the turnout at 35 percent and I think we’ll hit that and may even go to 40 percent,” Grams said on Tuesday afternoon. “I think the presidential primary and local elections are causing the higher than expected turnout.”

There are about 7,000 eligible voters in Port Washington, according to Deputy Clerk Susan Westerbecke; there were 2,936 total votes in the city on Tuesday.

And the as well as the political turmoil that has been rippling through Wisconsin for more than a year now, likely influenced voters at the polls to come with partisan thoughts this election season — despite the fact that mayoral and school board races are nonpartisan.

“I basically went full Republican,” said John Love, a Saukville resident.

Volunteering for conservative candidates outside , Craig Simmons was talking to voters about candidates’ party affiliations, and passing out flyers advocating for Larsson, Kelley and Soper.

"A lot of people say, 'Thank you, I did not know who to vote for,'" Simmons said.

Wearing a baseball cap with a graphic of the Republican elephant, Simmons said several voters came to him with questions.

"It's especially refreshing when people make a beeline for me when they see the cap and say, 'Oh, you're a Republican; who are you supporting?'" Simmons said. "Party affiliation is everything."

In order to discern a candidate’s political leanings, at least one voter, Saukville resident Dave Kempin, said he used verifytherecall.com to find who not to vote for.

Politics even played a strong role in the School Board race for some voters. Port Washington resident Erik Halling said he voted for Larsson because he thought he was the most fiscally conservative.

Nathan Flynn April 04, 2012 at 01:58 PM
That's funny, I used verifytherecall.com to find out who to vote for. I try to make my vote for somebody or something, not against someone else. That's why we're stuck in the cycle of 'the lesser of two evils' when it comes to the Presidency.
Tom Kamenick April 04, 2012 at 02:07 PM
We typically know very little about local candidates. They don't run ads, and what public statements they make (verbally, on flyers, etc.) tend to be banal generalities that do little, if anything, to distinguish them from other candidates. Information like who signed the recall helps guide our decisions. Of course, people like Carey Gremminger, who was unfortunately re-elected last night, think we citizens shouldn't have that kind of information.
Ruth Duffrin April 04, 2012 at 02:34 PM
So if you didn't sign the recall that automatically makes that person a better candidate? Because I signed the recall and I find a candidate that I like and they didn't sign the recall, should I not vote for them? It may help guide your decision but don't say it helps guide "our" decisions, because it doesn't make any difference to me, especially when voting for a non partisan position such as the school board.
Greg Huegerich April 04, 2012 at 03:03 PM
The problem is, local politics typically don't divide as red versus blue, which is why most folks don't list an affiliation. Its about philosophies around zoning, aesthetics, growth, programs and extracurriculars. Its about Port Washington taxing the living heck out of anyone who chose to live or own property along Highway 33, while Saukville spreads the cost out amongst the community. I'm not sure which party to blame for which philosophy there? Generally speaking, trying to figure out Red/Blue on local elections winds up as very much a red herring, particularly since most funding is tied to either Fees or shared revenues with the state. As for the school board elections, I was glad to see the community respond around which candidates are best for improving our schools, particularly since the bottom line budget dollars are largely set by the state at this point. Its about getting and keeping people on these boards who understand how to best serve the children and parents in the district. I think that objective was met yesterday.
Earl April 04, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I agree with Greg. Also, I appreciated that Mueller, Gremminger, and Fritsch didn't illegally stuff my mailbox or harass me with fliers as I went in to vote as the so called "conservative " candidates did. These new board members will be stewards of the children and the taxpayer. Congratulations ladies.
Earl April 04, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Congratulations Carey. It was very clear who the voters trust. I looked at the verify the recall.com list and couldn't believe that at the bottom of the list they included a link to join their HATE MAIL site. I guess some bullies don't ever grow up.
Marge April 04, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Tom, The school board race is to be nonpartisan for a reason. It is not political, it is what is best for the students. I am not aware if you have children, but if you do, I hope one day you can see the excellence in our board members, and their dedication to produce motivated and goal-oriented citizens that positively represent our community. If your concern is fiscal...then you have not done your homework. The PWSSD has only raised taxes 2% in the the past 10 YEARS. Compared to other districts, that is minimal, and in the process we have maintained a staff that is dedicated to the education of our children. The continued attacks on school board members, educators, and community members in support of a healty school district by citizens such as yourself is heart-wrenching. Atticus Finch said it best in To Kill a Mockingbird, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." Empathy, my friend. Empathy. Congrats to the women.
Earl April 04, 2012 at 04:46 PM
You got that right Marge.
Jaime Sommers April 04, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Pretty easy to find info on Carey, Brenda, Michelle and Earl. I found no lack of data or availability on these four local candidates. Complete transparency. And I appreciate that. Thank you to these four candidates.
Flyer April 04, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Congratulations to the candidates who won last night! Who signed or didn't sign recall petitions did not influence my vote. I am thrilled to have newly elected members of the School Board who understand that politicized divisiveness is NOT in the best interest of our children's education. Rather, they understand that parents, teachers and administration work together in partnership and in service to our youth. Kudos ladies! Sanity prevailed and I hope others, yes, Tom, including you, can learn a civics lesson from you.
Matt April 05, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Marge, of course my concerns are fiscal and i applaud port schools for keeping finances in check. But in doing my research, I was trying to find out if any of these candidates were going to do anything about local school issues that concern me... ie: bullying. There was another fight at TJMS today, this time involving girls. School board members who arent interested in keeping the status quo and buring their heads in the sand and actually want to change the culture of appeasment are who we need on the school board. I'm not worried about the excellent level of education we have in Port Washington. Our teachers do an excellent job in that regard. What we need are school board members who will force the principals and administators to be proactive with bullying policies and enforce strict punishments on students and parents who continue to destroy what otherwise would be an excellent school system.
Tom Kamenick April 05, 2012 at 11:55 AM
You know, if the recall were about Walker's private behavior (see the Sheboygan mayor), or an action of Walker's that wasn't particularly relevant to local governments or school boards, I would agree with you here that signing the recall wouldn't be very useful information in deciding who to vote for. But the recall effort has focused around Act 10, and Act 10 is mostly about the relationship between government entities and the unions of their employees. If candidates think that reigning in the unparalleled control public unions exerted over public policies was a bad idea, I don't want those candidates being public policy makers. So my vote and my comments haven't been directed at an overly-simplistic Republican vs. Democrat paradigm. The Walker recall is about the balance of power between unions and the rest of the citizenry. If you can't see that, then you are the ones who need a civics lesson.
Tom Kamenick April 05, 2012 at 11:56 AM
If politicized divisiveness is not in the best interest of our children's education, isn't that another good reason not to vote for somebody who signed the recall?
Flyer April 05, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Tom: no, not when it comes to non-partisan positions. School board elections are NOT a referendum on Walker, Walker's recall is a referendum on Walker. School boards must deal with the hand they were dealt by the State, and that is it. You are looking to promote your own political agenda in support of Walker where it is not warranted. What you do as an individual is your choice, but don't project your dissatisfaction with the recall where it does not belong. People signed or did not sign recall petitions for a myriad of reasons. You choose to say it is about a balance of power between unions and the rest of citizenry as if union members are not citizens, Shame on you! That alone is a reason to consider a change in leadership.
Tom Kamenick April 05, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Grammar lesson - "rest of the citizenry" necessarily requires that union members be part of the citizenry. Yes, there are multiple reasons to have signed the recall petition. The primary driving force behind it was Act 10. Considering these local politicians and candidates were given the opportunity to explain why they signed the recall petition and chose not to do so, there's no reason to complain that many of us drew the conclusion that they disagree with the changes of Act 10. If they do disagree with the changes of Act 10, it's rational to conclude that they will be, at the least, reticent to use their new power to make public policy decisions without having to get union approval first. I voted for Larson, Kelley, and Soper because they promised to do so.
Flyer April 05, 2012 at 10:30 PM
What are you saying, too bad the candidates you voted for didn't win? Is that your point? It appears that the citizenry of Port/Saukville does not agree with you because they understand what it is and is not about. We will all have our choice to vote for Walker or not, and THAT election has absolutely nothing to do with school board elections.
Tom Kamenick April 05, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Ah, if only government were that simple and the various units of government could be considered in isolation from each other :) But sadly, that's not the case. What one does is very, often crucially, relevant to the other. You're right - we lost this one. I find it unfortunate, as I'm sure you would had the results been reversed. But my point goes well beyond "aw darn," it encourages people to educate themselves about their representatives and candidates and make informed choices about relevant issues. And criticizes politicians who think their public actions should be hidden from the public.
Flyer April 05, 2012 at 11:08 PM
"WE lose this one." And the divisiveness continues. That is sad. You assume the electorate did not educate themselves. Perhaps the positive is that it was an educated electorate made their decisions based on information that was readily available, including information YOU provided about the signing or not signing of Walker's recall petition. And they made that decision without some far reaching political agenda. Again, kudos to the newly elected school board members who chose not to profit from the divisiveness of WE vs THEY mentality.
Tom Kamenick April 05, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Good luck figuring out a way to have elections that don't have winners and losers. Oh the horror of such divisiveness! How have we ever survived centuries of such a divisive process as elections? :) Exactly where did I claim that the electorate didn't educate themselves? My very first post makes it clear I think the recall information led to a MORE educated electorate. You've been trying to put words in my mouth an awful lot in this conversation in order to create some evil to paint me with. Since this is the second time you've degraded me by mischaracterizing what I said, I would like an apology.
Flyer April 05, 2012 at 11:40 PM
An apology is not happening. You have put words in the mouths of, and projected intentions on to people who signed or didn't sign recall petitions, and published your foregone conclusions without benefit of clarification from those individuals. When you apologize for that, I will personally put a signed apology into the Ozaukee Press. Thank you for educating the electorate, they made an informed decision, albeit not the one you intended.
Ruth Duffrin April 06, 2012 at 02:27 AM
The job of the school board isn't to just write a handbook in which you spell out the rules, pay and benefits for teachers, there are many things that the school board is responsible for. Act 10 doesn't just affect teachers. It affects other public employees, except police and fire. The reasons people signed for the recall are varied and not just centered on teachers. So when you go looking for names on the recall don't assume they signed in support of teachers, there are many more people affected by Act 10.
Tom Kamenick April 06, 2012 at 02:42 AM
I'm taking your request seriously, so I wanted to give it some time and thought. I'm sure you would agree that me apologizing for something I'm not sorry for just to hear you apologize would be completely inappropriate. So what did I do? I took politician's actions, words, and occasionally, lack of words, and then engaged in conjecture about those things and tried to infer from them how they would govern over the things we entrust to them. There's nothing wrong with that - that's what good voters should do. I also gave them the benefit of the doubt by not writing a single word about my opinions of what their signing meant until AFTER the election. All I did prior to the election was put the information out there. What didn't I do? I didn't put words in anybody's mouth. I spoke in generalities - I did not claim to know why any specific person signed, but nor did I claim that everybody who signed it had the same motivations. Specifically, I did not engage in a conversation with any of the signers and twist their words in any way to rebut an argument they didn't make. Nor did I publish my conclusions without clarification. As I noted, my purely informational post with no editorializing was posted 2 weeks before the election. The signers had opportunity and were asked to clarify their reasons for signing. That they didn't respond was their choice, but neither they nor anybody on their behalf should complain about people reaching their own conclusions.
Tom Kamenick April 06, 2012 at 02:44 AM
So I don't see anything I've done that you've complained about for which I should apologize. I will admit that my tone got sarcastic or acerbic at times (like many people, I enjoy my own attempts at wit!), and if that offended you or anybody else, I do apologize. I'll work on moderating my own words better.
Tom Kamenick April 06, 2012 at 02:48 AM
And I should apologize to Mr. Mlada for hijacking his thread so badly :) Congratulations, sir!
Flyer April 06, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Too long/too many words to read. When there is a clearly defined apology without reservation or hedging your bets, you will have the same, and I stand with my statement until then, sir.

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