Daily Bread for 11.3.21: Mequon-Thiensville School District Rejects Recall

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 43.  Sunrise is 7:33 AM and sunset 5:43 PM for 10h 10m 47s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 3% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 2014, One World Trade Center officially opens in New York City, replacing the Twin Towers after they were destroyed during the September 11 attacks.

Alec Johnson and Rory Linnane report Mequon-Thiensville recall fails to unseat any school board members after high-spending race with national attention:

A recall effort against four Mequon-Thiensville School Board members failed to unseat any incumbents Tuesday, a major loss for recall organizers who had raised nearly $50,000 and gained national attention in their months long pursuit.

Each of the incumbents won over 58% of the votes in their races, according to unofficial results posted by the district Tuesday.

The election marks the 16th failed recall effort against school board members in Wisconsin since the pandemic began, with many of the recall organizers citing frustration with pandemic safety measures.

The number of school board recall attempts this year is more than double any previous year tallied by Ballotpedia, a Middleton-based nonprofit.

Incumbents won their seats with the following vote totals:

  • Akram Khan won with 6,719 votes, over Kris Kittell who had 4,825 votes
  • Chris Schultz won with 6,816 votes, over Scarlett Johnson who had 4,748 votes
  • Erik Hollander won with 6,926 votes, over Charles Lorenz who had 4,641 votes
  • Wendy Francour won with 6,799 votes, over Cheryle Rebholz who had 4,768 votes

Over 11,600 ballots were cast. In the April Mequon-Thiensville school board election, there were 6,442 ballots cast, a turnout of about 30%.

Recall organizers had pushed the message that academic achievement was declining in the district, arguing that the district’s pandemic safety measures and commitments to equity were contributing to that decline.

They cited the district’s “seven milestones for success,” which have shown declines in recent years. Standardized test scores have declined statewide over the past two years as the pandemic disrupted classroom learning.

Two seats, those maintained by Khan and Schultz, will be up for election again in April. The others will be up in 2023.

After results came in Tuesday night, incumbents thanked supporters.

“My community of Mequon-Thiensville – the school district, the teachers, the staff, and most importantly, the students of the district, won tonight. It was never about us four. It was always about the students. And we are thrilled about the results,” Khan said in a phone interview.

“We are very happy with how the community responded to our message of rejecting lies and distortions. I am very grateful to the community that they rose up and they did not accept the distortions and lies,” Khan also said.

Most recalls in Wisconsin fail, and despite PAC money, outside canvassers, and national coverage, this one failed, too.

There are two key differences between Mequon-Thiensville and Whitewater (other than the obvious difference that Mequon-Thiensville is a wealthier area with fewer basic human needs). These differences made it easier for the MTSD to withstand a conservative populist recall effort.

First, in Mequon-Thiensville that community could point to good performance on fundamental measurements, and certainly better performance than most Wisconsin school districts. They gave their community something fundamental of which to be proud, and worthy of defense. (Administrators, including a ‘District Leadership Team’ in a struggling community, who spend millions on athletic fields via supplanted funds aren’t giving their residents something fundamental; they’re tempting the Fates. Worse, administrators who insist that what they did isn’t what they did drape themselves in evasion, and that’s a threadbare garment not worth wearing.)

Second, when the Kleefisch PAC endorsed a candidate in April in Whitewater, the incumbent sat on his hands. By contrast, when Kleefisch’s PAC went all in on the Mequon-Thiensville recall, residents of that community organized in opposition to her politicking.

The alternative would have been populist speech-banning and safe-space ending. That alternative would have been for Mequon-Thiensville, as its prospect should be for Whitewater, intolerable.

How Complexity Theory Helps Explain the Economic Recovery:

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2 years ago

[…] and upcoming spring elections in parts of the state are likely to be as acrimonious.  See Mequon-Thiensville School District Rejects Recall and How Mequon-Thiensville Residents Saved Their […]

2 years ago

[…] have seen (Fall 2021) and still see (Spring 2022) energized electorates (posts on this topic: 1, 2, 3). (In M-T, the tensions has been between kinds of Republicans, but in other places red or blue […]

2 years ago

[…] to their messaging. In some cases, they underestimate the strength of motivated opponents. See Mequon-Thiensville School District Rejects Recall and How Mequon-Thiensville Residents Saved Their Schools. (This spring, residents of that district […]

2 years ago

[…] plunged into the high-profile recall race over the Mequon-Thiensville School Board, only to see her recall candidates lose. This spring, her candidates for that board’s spring general election lost […]