Voters in 12 suburban Milwaukee communities overwhelmingly showed support for a smaller, part-time Milwaukee County Board in Tuesday's election.
The two-part, non-binding referendum first asked voters if the size of the County Board should be reduced from 18 to nine members; that was supported by 84 percent of voters. Eighty-two percent of voters also supported making the position of County Supervisor part-time.
The referendum questions appeared on the ballot in Bayside, Brown Deer, Cudahy, Fox Point, Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, River Hills, Shorewood, West Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay.
The proposal to reduce the size and salary of the County Board was advocated by County Supervisor Joseph Rice of Whitefish Bay. The board's redistricting plan eliminated his seat, and divided Whitefish Bay into two supervisory districts — District 13, that also represents portions of central and west Milwaukee, and District 3, which represents Shorewood and the east side of Milwaukee. The change split Whitefish Bay's suburban representation on the board into two districts with more city representation and more liberal constituencies.
Incumbent District 13 Supervisor Willie Johnson Jr. survived a challenge from Bria Grant in Tuesday's election, and District 3 Supervisor Gerry Broderick retained his seat in an uncontested election.
Rice issued a statement Wednesday saying the results of the referenda illustrate a desire to reform the County Board.
“Despite a political environment often characterized by division and disagreement, the results of these referenda demonstrate that voters can agree on one thing — reform of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors is overdue,” Rice said.
In December, the County Board refused to place the questions on a county-wide referendum. Rice thanked municipal government leaders for placing the ballot questions before the voters on Tuesday.
“Despite the board’s refusal to allow voters to be heard throughout the county, these referenda results send a loud and clear message that reform is favored,” said Rice.
“The future County Board should carefully consider this clear mandate and take steps to reform its governance process and procedures. Continuing to ignore the will of the electorate can serve only to reinforce the public sentiment that the County Board is not listening.”