Monday in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of 45. Sunrise is 5:47 AM and sunset 7:55 PM for 14h 07m 57s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 82.1% of its visible disk illuminated.
Whitewater’s Equal Opportunities Commission meets at 5 PM.
Across Wisconsin, and so in Whitewater, we’ve finished a spring general election. For both our city and the public school district of which it is a part, there are new elected majorities on the Whitewater Common Council and the Whitewater Unified School District. These new majorities invite a question: what’s a political mandate for the city or a school district?
For today, it’s worth considering the difference in the recent elections for these two public bodies. It’s considerable: the district had many candidates run in both a primary and general election, with a candidate forum before the general election, but the city had not a single contested position on its council.
A candidate’s mandate from voters requires a political issue, expressly presented to the electorate during the campaign, on which the successful candidate campaigned.
Needless to say, a majority on a public body that has had only the minimum number of candidates to fill its seats, and so no alternative candidates to compare, has no mandate from the electorate. There was no clash of ideas, no alternative slate, between the current Whitewater Common Council candidates and any challengers (because there were no challengers).
The new council majority cannot claim a mandate simply because no one else cared to run. At best, an election in which there were no contested races is a sign of residents’ satisfaction (or at least lack of objection) to the policies of the year prior.
In Whitewater, if the Common Council majority elected in April 2023 alters or overturns the policies of the last year, then they shall do so without a mandate. By contrast, in the school district, there were contested races, with candidates of different views, who presented those differences to the public in written statements and responses to questions at an open forum.
It is possible, among those candidates of the board majority who won this spring, to discern approximately what would be, and what would not be, their mandate.
Tomorrow: What’s the Whitewater Unified School District board’s mandate?
A century ago, Rex Brasher was finishing his life’s work: Almost 900 watercolors documenting some 1200 American bird species. Celebrated in its day, Brasher’s work was largely forgotten by the end of the 20th century. Now, residents in the community where he lived and worked are exploring his work again. As the threat of climate change accelerates, the Rex Brasher Association believes there could be invaluable scientific documentation of changing habitats in Brasher’s artistic legacy.