Andrea Gage and Dave Carlson won election to the District 2 and 4 Sun Prairie City Council seats during a Tuesday, April 2 election that saw one incumbent judge ousted, another reelected and the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction handily win reelection.
In District 2, incumbent alderman Steve Villand lost his bid for a fourth term on the council to Gage, who works as public relations coordinator for the State Bar of Wisconsin. Gage received 591 votes to 485 for Villand.
Villand said that, even though they were nearly even in terms of money raised, she received an edge campaigning with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers and State Senator Mark Miller in a district which recently experienced younger families moving in.
“I think she got a lot of young people out,” Villand said when asked about the results on Tuesday night. “I really don’t know. I just know that I didn’t get enough votes,” he said with a laugh.
Gage survived an embarrassing incident, recounted in a letter on The Star’s website before the election, in which she advocated for more involvement in city government to City Council Vice President Jon Freund at his home – without acknowledging he was a member of the city council.
“I am honored to have earned the support of so many of my friends and neighbors, and I am eager to get to work for the people of Sun Prairie,” Gage said in a prepared statement e-mailed to The Star. “The people of Sun Prairie have spoken. They want to see their elected officials work to preserve the city’s best qualities while preparing for the future.
“Together, as a community, we will work to provide a transparent, accessible and accountable City Council. We will stand up for our city workers, and make sure Sun Prairie continues to be a welcoming and affordable place for working families to live,” Gage added. “We will foster responsible planning and growth to protect our quality of life, our property values, and our most important resource—the prairie itself. I am thankful and ready to advocate for you.”
District 4’s election pitted Carlson – who lost his 2012 contest against current District 4 Alderperson Mary Polenske – against Trish Schaefer, who ran unsuccessfully in 2012 against Rep. Gary Hebl. Carlson received 532 votes to 450 for Schaefer.
“I think I was outspent. I think money had a lot to do with it,” Schaefer said when asked about the election results. “I think out-of-state support had a lot to do with it, and I think that kind of thing can influence and cloud the real vote. It’s hard to compete with someone who’s outspending you. If it was local money, it would be a different thing . . . it should be concerning to voters of District 4 that they’re becoming pawns in something that should not be partisan, yet it has become that because of the political endorsements that have been pushed by the two winners.”
Schaefer, a resident of District 4 for 20 years, felt she was well-received throughout the district when she campaigned. She also pointed out that Ronald Reagan lost elections a few times before finally being elected to public office. “I’ve mentioned before that I really feel like that it is something that I need to do, that I want to do – getting involved in the community that’s given my family and me so much.”
“The race, I think, was won based on meeting the voters face-to-face at the doors,” Carlson said, adding that he spent nearly every weekend day during the campaign season at District 4 doors. He said his issues of economic development and being more specific with proposals than Schaefer helped him win.
“And I think the other thing, combining my win with Andrea’s win . . . that the people voted for the outsiders,” said Carlson, who campaigned on his past government experience in Eau Claire as a reason why he would be ready to serve following the April 2 election. “I think it’s a message that people at least do want to see some change at city hall.”
Carlson also said Mayor John Murray called him immediately and expressed a desire to work together for the citizens of Sun Prairie. “He said he was looking forward to working with all of us,” Carlson said.
State Supreme Court Justice -- Incumbent Pat Roggensack handily won reelection over Marquette law professor Ed Fallone. At press time Tuesday, Roggensack had won with 57 percent of the vote, or 476,893 to Fallone’s 43 percent, or 354,771.
Sun Prairie returns contradicted those results, as 2,133 voters chose Fallone to 1,734 who voted for Roggensack.
“I am so grateful for the support I have received from the voters across Wisconsin tonight,” said Roggensack in a prepared statement. “I love my job and enjoy working with my colleagues on the legal issues that come before us. I'm excited to get back to work and focus on serving the people of Wisconsin as a member of the court.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction – Incumbent State Superintendent Evers easily won reelection over Republican Rep. Don Pridemore.
Evers received 61 percent of the vote, or 474,099 statewide, to 39 percent of the vote for Pridemore, or 300,138 votes.
In Sun Prairie, Evers also won handily, defeating Pridemore 2,504 to 1,104.
Branch 16 Dane County Circuit Court – Challenger Rhonda Lanford succeeded in painting incumbent Judge Rebecca St. John as a Gov. Walker appointee whose values were not as progressive as those of Dane County Democrats, based on the election returns Tuesday.
Lanford tallied 42,639 votes to St. John’s 38,519 with just three precincts remaining to report, but those numbers were subsequently declared final and Lanford was declared the winner.
In Sun Prairie, that perception failed, as St. John received 1,895 votes to Lanford’s 1,578 votes. She tallied the most votes in District 2, where 569 voters supported her to 453 for Lanford.
Referendum -- Results on the advisory question on whether or not to continue to allow voters to register at the polls on Election Day passed on an 82 percent favorable vote.
Turnout -- City Clerk Diane Hermann-Brown reported a relatively trouble-free day at the city’s four polling places. The 21 percent citywide voter turnout was not impacted by the weather, which was sunny and unseasonably cool. “I said we’d have 20 percent,” Hermann-Brown said.
Dane County reported 25 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the April 2 election.