Write-in Candidates Topple Roehl and Kolar in the Town of Middleton

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MTT News's picture
Kevin Murphy

Two Town of Middleton write-in candidates Tuesday rode a wave of voter indignation over proposed zoning changes on their way to a pair of upset victories.

Cynthia Richson, a town plan commission member, defeated incumbent Town Chair Bill Kolar 707 to 651.

Richard Oberle defeated incumbent Tim Roehl by the sizeable margin of 761 to 585 for Seat No. 1 on the town board.

Richson called her win a win for the people.

“The people have finally been heard, respected and listened to...This is very exciting for the town,” she said moments after getting the voting results.

Kolar declined to comment Tuesday night on the election’s outcome.

As a lobbyist for the Dane County Towns Association, Roehl helped pass legislation last year that required an affirmative vote by town residents in order to opt out of county zoning.

Responding to the push back against opting out, Roehl backed legislation introduced in March which made the residents’ vote advisory. That caused Richson and Oberle to register as write-in candidates.

The legislation’s conservative backers then amended the bill to have town residents vote to opt out - but at a special meeting, not the annual meeting.

The bill remains pending in the Legislature but Richson called it “a step too far.”

“That’s taking away a core, fundamental value of our town…and someone had to stand up against it,” she said.

Roehl was not available for immediate comment Tuesday night.

Oberle, who had been a town board supervisor from 2002-2014, said he became a candidate when asked by residents upset with the prospect of losing their vote on opting out of county zoning.

“They asked me what are we going to do about it? So, I said yes, what are we going to do about it…meaning it would take an effort by all of them in order to win,” he said.

In an email Tuesday night, Oberle wrote that he and Richson will respect the residents’ right to “a binding vote on opt out,” at the annual meeting.

Town administrator David Shaw said Tuesday that he could not remember any write-in candidate for town board ever winning prior this.

Brent Renteria was re-elected running unopposed for Seat No. 2 on the town board.

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