Incumbents fall in Greenfield

Candidates say election turned on economic issues

April 7, 2010

Greenfield — Touting a tax issue to voters battered by an economic recession, challengers Donald Carlson and David Richlen ousted incumbents Cathy Walsh and Pam Sierzchulski in Tuesday's Greenfield School Board election.

According to unofficial results, Carlson garnered 32 percent of the vote while Richlen got 26 percent. Walsh and Sierzchulski tallied 22 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

Turnout was 11.5 percent of registered voters. All election results remain unofficial until certified by the Board of Canvassers, which was to meet Wednesday, after the NOW's press deadline.

Despite the loss, Sierzchulski and Walsh both said they wouldn't change a thing about their tenure.

Sierzchulski, the board president and a member since 2003, said it was a privilege to serve in the school district and planned to continue staying involved through groups such as the Booster Club and Education Foundation.

"My goal was to educate the voters and stand firm in my beliefs," said Sierzchulski, adding that she felt she accomplished just that.

Walsh served for 18 years and said she was proud of what the district accomplished over that time, including a new high school, pool, administration building and two elementary schools; improvements to two other elementary schools and great additions and changes to the curriculum.

Walsh, who believes she would not change any of her decisions, said she looked both in the long and short term before voting on issues, acknowledging that "sometimes those decisions aren't popular in the short term."

The challengers focused much of their campaign on one of those more recent votes - an 11.2 percent increase in the property tax levy approved last October.

Richlen and Carlson said they understood the district faces revenue problems out of their control, but suggested the board needed to do more in limiting the increase in light of the economic recession impacting many families.

Their stance was in contrast to Walsh and Sierzchulski, both of whom voted in favor of the levy increase. They have said they had little choice after state aid was cut by $1.8 million and that depleting the district's reserves would be fiscally irresponsible.

Carlson, who previously served on the Greenfield Common Council before entering the School Board race, repeated his primary success in getting the most votes out of any candidate.

He said he looked forward to representing students and taxpayers while on the board to get through the challenging economic times.

"I put in a lot of hard work, as did many who helped me," Carlson said. "I got my message out and evidently a lot of people liked it."

Richlen, in his first attempt for public office, climbed into second place after finishing fourth in the primary.

He said he looked forward to moving past the election, which became heated at times on the campaign trail and in Public Forum letters to the newspaper, to solve the district's budget woes.

"I have nothing against anybody," he said. "I understand that's the way it is when you're in a heated election and I want to move past it and get the job done for (residents)."

Greenfield School Board members serve three-year terms at a salary of $4,200 per year.

In other school board races:

Whitnall: In a close vote, incumbents Suzette Larson and Michael Clarizio along with challenger Stephanie Richter were elected to the Whitnall School Board.

Unofficial results showed Larson and Richter each with 26 percent of the vote and Clarizio with 25 percent. The other challenger, Jon Jones, pulled in 23 percent of the vote.

Larson and Richter will serve three-year terms while Clarizio will serve for two years, finishing out the term of Robert Lawton, who resigned last year.

West Allis-West Milwaukee: It was also a tight vote in West Allis-West Milwaukee, where incumbents Susan Stalewski, George Sotiros and Annette Frymark and challenger Jane Edgar were elected to the West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board.

The other two challengers, Jake Dreske and Len Kopet, were not far behind.

Stalewski led all vote getters with 20 percent of the vote. Frymark and Sotiros each pulled in 17 percent. In round numbers, Edgar and Dreske both had about 16 percent of the vote, but Edgar had 64 more votes. Kopet had 14 percent of the vote.

The incumbents will serve three-year terms. Because Edgar finished fourth, she will serve one year to complete the term of Robert Kitchen, who died last year.


(Two seats)

 Don Carlson…1,192

 David Richlen…1,002

 Cathy J. Walsh (inc.)…828

 Pam Sierzchulski (inc.)…751


(Four seats)

 Susan Stalewski (inc.)…1,667

 George Sotiros (inc.)…1,466

 Annette Frymark (inc.)…1,458

 Jane Edgar…1,399

 Jake Dreske…1,335

 Len Kopet…1,222


(Three seats)

 Suzette Larson (inc.) …512

 Stephanie A. Richter…493

 Michael Clarizio (inc.) …475

 Jon D. Jones…436

Unofficial final results

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