Madison residents and University of Wisconsin students headed to the polls Tuesday to vote for members of the Dane County Board.
Scott McDonell, current board member of District 1, defeated opponent Frank Harris by bringing in 555 votes, or 83 percent, in the race for Dane County District 1 supervisor. Harris raked in 16 percent of the total with 110 votes.
In the race for Dane County District 2 supervisor, Judith Wilcox, a current board member, won with 192 votes, 59 percent of the total. Her opponent, Beth Gross, brought in 41 percent with 134 votes.
The elections included 23 races within 32 districts in the city. UW students held the power to sway votes because they make up the primary population of Districts 1 and 2, the neighborhoods around the Capitol and the James Madison area.
Issues many of the delegates focused on included the implementation of a mass-transit system, the future condition of the local lakes and a further dedication to public safety and tenant rights.
McDonell plans to clean up Madison lakes, improve mass transit within the city and continue to work toward a greater awareness of sexual assault.
His opponent, Harris, said he would have worked toward increasing public safety awareness and tenant rights, as well as promoting further economic growth.
Ald. Austin King, District 8, supported McDonell because of his past eight-year experience on the County Board. King said he believes in McDonell’s ideals, specifically his work with environmental issues such as the county-wide ban on fertilizers containing phosphorus, a chemical that some believe causes overgrowth of plants and algae in lakes.
“[McDonell] has done a whole lot of great things, from curbing the urban sprawl to working towards the phosphorus ban,” King said.
The County Board vote on the phosphorus ban was pushed back until after the elections due to speculation that the election would heavily influence the direction of the votes, according to King. Currently, the ban has passed through the City Council and will be addressed at the next County Board meeting.
Green issues such as the addition of a light-rail system also influenced the stances of the delegates. McDonell supports the addition while Harris does not.
“Commuter rails bring the two best things [to the city],” King said. “They not only help the environment, but they keep traffic off of the streets.”
Recently, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has been campaigning for the railway system after statistics showed a similar system was efficient in Portland, Ore.
“In a city like ours, there really aren’t many transit options; it’s a shame,” King said.
King said he also supports McDonell because of McDonell’s work as a chair on the UW financial committee.
McDonell has also worked for heightened sexual-assault awareness and protection.
Wilcox had the support of Ald. Brian Benford, District 12; Ald. Brenda Konkel, District 2; and former Ald. Barbara Vedder, according to a statement on Gross’s website.
Despite alders’ vocal support of the candidates, low voter turnout continues to be a problem nationally and locally. In 2002, the Madison County Board and school-board elections brought in a 16 percent voter turnout. Last year, the mayor’s race and a state referendum brought out 31 percent of voters, according to NBC-15 News.
Voter turnout remained low at 50 percent during the Feb. 17 presidential primary elections and the DeJope Casino referendum, according to The Capital Times.