By Steve Hingle
Here’s a story that may be common across Wisconsin. Election Day is coming up fast on April 4, but I live in Verona, where it seems like nothing much is happening: only one alder seat up for election, and not in my district. But I recently found out that my council is currently dominated by conservatives 5-3 over progressives, and that the one district seat up for election is currently held by a conservative. So if the progressive candidate were to win, we’d have a 4-4 split on the council. That’s a huge difference! And it can mean a lot when, say, the council is deciding whether or not to support affordable housing – a real example from Verona, where affordable housing has been lost in recent years.
Similar scenarios may be happening across Wisconsin, only OWR doesn’t yet know about it, or we think this is a minor election that doesn’t matter, or we think we’re not ready to work because we’re still organizing. But these alder seats and school board seats do matter, and will be filled for the next two years at least, with either a conservative or a progressive. Just how progressive the candidates are will surely vary, but in many cases, there is bound to be a real difference between the two people on the ballot. Or perhaps you know a town out there that leans progressive, but has a conservative candidate running unopposed. Could a last-minute write-in campaign be successful? It only takes someone to step up, a couple of hours to write up a card and get it printed (plus some cash), and then a weekend with friends passing out the cards door-to-door. So, yes, it’s possible.
Here’s what I’ve done in Verona. I contacted the alder candidate I consider more progressive and asked her how I could help. She wants get-out-the-vote canvassing the weekend of April 1 & 2. So I’ll help her with that. Then I started e-mailing groups and people I know, and posting on Facebook, urging people not just to vote but to show up and help canvass. I’m not going to wait until we’ve got everything figured out with the OWR structure. We’ve got an opportunity to make a difference now. Find out what’s really at stake in your town, and do what you can today.
Steve Hingle is an accountant for nonprofits by day and is starting an OWR chapter in Verona. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.