Year in Review: April Elections Unusually Heated

A wave of voter angst shook up the normally droll spring elections in April.

In Southern Door, three challengers swept their way onto the school board on the heels of voter sentiment upset with a proposed revenue override referendum. Southern Door was the last Door County school to go the referendum route to maintain programming, and it proved a tough sell to district voters, who defeated it by nearly 500 votes.

Further north, voters in Sevastopol and Washington Island approved similar referendums.

Upset voters sought change in municipal politics as well. Baileys Harbor Town Chairman James Parent was the victim of controversy surrounding the town board’s push to expand the boundaries of its core zoning district. That proposal divided the town and lead to the placement of an advisory referendum on the April ballot. Parent and most of the board expected townspeople to support the plan at the ballot box, but citizens responded with a solid no vote, 336 – 217.

Parent’s challenger for chairman, Don Sitte, rode that dissent to a narrow upset win, defeating Parent by just two votes for the town’s top seat.

On Washington Island a write-in candidate for town chairman, Joel Gunnlaugsson, didn’t suffer from his late entry into the race, winning by 100 votes.

City politics were quiet for much of 2011, but the April election featured the upset of one Sturgeon Bay Councilman, as Sturgeon Bay School Superintendent Joe Stutting easily unseated incumbent Stephen Mann.