Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Where were the other 4,135 NO votes?

Elections, Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools

Don't worry, I am not going to drag on about the referendum too much, but I think some things need analyzing before I move on to other areas of interest. It is important to understand why it passed and how the process works...for next time.

Some of us asked ourselves, how did the referendum pass in a climate of rising food prices, increasing taxes and the prospect of gasoline hitting $4/gal by summer? Pretty remarkable considering the dollar amount, $62.2 million, was sizable for a declining enrollment.

First, voter turn out was key to the referendum passing or failing. No question about it, apathy played a huge role in the referendum's passing, but the timing of the election played a larger part. The apathetic are always with us.

Voter turn out was expected to be higher. I expected it would be lower.

Holding an election the Tuesday after Easter vacation and before all the snow birds returned home, indicated to me turnout would be low. By placing the referendum question on the spring ballot then, known for lower turnout than a November Presidential election, timing alone eliminated a huge percentage of the voters. (I am pretty sure Waukesha County had a 97% turnout in 2004.)

The spring election, based on past voting trends, was sure to garner fewer total votes from the general public than the November election.

Some might be thinking that because of the dire need in our schools, the district felt it could not wait until November. They could have included the referendum question however, in the Presidential primary, where a broader field of voters participates. 

Second, there only are so many YES votes in the Elmbrook School district. Getting those likely Yes voters out to vote then was key to passage.

Elmbrook informed (they are not allowed to promote) the need to renovate their schools every chance they could on tours, at PTO meetings, on their cable channel, and in publications sent to residents. The only alternative they gave was to let things continue as they were.

Considering only 1 out of every 4 homes in the district have children in Elmbrook schools, getting out the vote amongst those parents* was very important. They were the key Yes voters.

Low voter turnout of the general voting population, who don't have children in Elmbrook Schools, then was key to this referendum's passage.

But the district also needed to add to that number of Yes votes. How would they do that? The HSST. 

Sure, some people changed their minds because the total dollar amount was lower. Maybe some thought this time the cost was not too outrageous. But next to timing the election, the HSST, I think accounted for a goodly portion of those 577 new yes votes this go around.

With referendums, timing and perception is everything. 

If you did not bother to vote last Tuesday and now are upset that the referendum passed, I can only say we get the government we deserve sometimes. Don't let it happen again. 


Next time, a look at the HSST and what it represented.

*Not all parents voted this time for the referendum. I don't blame those of you who did. As a parent we all want what is best for our children. I am just sorry Elmbrook did not get the most for our tax dollar here and we still have done nothing to address maintaining our schools.  


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Brookfield7, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield
Vicki Mckenna 

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