Monday, December 27, 2010

Point - Counterpoint?

The Herald Independent ran an exchange of letters between Monona alders Scott Munson and Mike Veserat in the December 9 and December 23 issues.

Here is Scott's letter:

Dear Editor:
 Each year, three of the six seats on the city council are up for grabs. The alders that are running for re-election this year are Jim Busse, Doug Wood, and Mike Veserat. According to Monona’s City Clerk, Joan Andrusz, the only candidates that have submitted papers to run for these seats are the incumbents (as of 12/7). All three of these men are outstanding public servants and I am honored to sit on the council with them. However, a democracy thrives only when its elections are actually meaningful. Unchallenged candidates are unlikely to knock on doors, talk with their constituents, and explain their positions on the issues affecting our city. Monona’s voters deserve to be able to cast consequential ballots.

I would encourage Monona's civic-minded residents to consider becoming candidates for our common council. Our city enjoys a reputation as an active democracy with extremely high voter turnout, but we need a contested election to make that turnout meaningful. The deadline to submit papers for the spring election is 5 p.m. on Tuesday January 4, 2011. Election Day is April 5, 2011.

Here is Mike riposte:

Dear Editor:
December 9th's paper had an interesting call to civics by none other than Monona’s very own Alderman Scott Munson. This letter stated that uncontested aldermanic seats leads, to among other things, a lack of meaning. I believe this means something else. I believe that there are many qualified future council members, many of whom are worried about keeping their own lights on, let alone the city’s. The biggest omission in this letter, however, is for over a decade, we have had an uncontested race for mayor.  I hope he doesn’t consider this position meaningless.
Mike Veserat
Monona Alderman

My reaction: What the...?

I think Alder Munson was simply observing that elections only have meaning if they are contested. He did not say that uncontested elections make the elected position meaningless. Alder Munson did not address the why some people choose not to run, so he did not discuss specific reasons why some people, who might otherwise be inclined to run for public office, don't run due to their personal circumstances.

Alder Munson didn't mention the mayoral election, but I would infer that he also favors a contested mayoral contest. Now that Bob Miller and Jeff Wiswell have announced their intention to run for mayor, we are having a contested mayoral election for the first time since 1993 when then-alder Kathy Thomas and Tom Metcalfe squared off for the open mayoral position. Mayor Metcalfe held the position without another challenge until Robb Kahl won in an uncontested race in 2003. Mayor Kahl faced no opponent in any of the succeeding elections either.

(At least that is my recollection; there may have been others that I am forgetting.)


  1. Yeah, I saw that and thought, "How could Veserat come up with an argument against what Munson said?" At best, Munson's argument is against Scott's "sin of omission" of not mentioning the mayoral race, but that's not even worthy of note, much less a letter to the editor.

    And to twist what Scott wrote -- that contested elections make a democracy thrive into "uncontested aldermanic seats leads (sic), to among other things, a lack of meaning," makes me wonder if he has a basic comprehension of the English language or if he's been watching Fox News so long that he doesn't know what reality is anymore.

    It was weird, Man! Looking for a fight where there wasn't one, or what? And if so, why?

    Granted, Veserat is free to have his opinion on why people don't run -- that people are "worried about keeping their own lights on, let alone the city’s" -- but that wasn't his point, was it?

  2. If Munson favored a mayoral race why didn't he say so?
    This is all much ado about nothin.

  3. Much of what you assume Munson said-he never said.

  4. Doug if a lack of competion is not good. Then why the f is Rob Kahl such a hot shot. He has never had competion when running for the Council of Mayor's seat. By your reasoning he is a F up becuase he never had competion.

  5. "At best, *Munson's argument* is against Scott's 'sin of omission' of not mentioning the mayoral race..."

    Did you mean *Veserat's argument* where you said *Munson's argument*?

  6. I think I'll just let the written record speak for itself rather than try to sort out these reactions.

  7. Chalk it up to Ves just being Ves, not surprised he missed Munson's point.

  8. It's pretty obvious that Veserat is the one the left wants out. No one is P.O'd enough to take up the challenge, it appears, unless there is a dark horse at the last hour. Where is the outrage!?!

  9. A lot of people might say the reason Kahl never had competition was that he was a pretty good mayor.

    This was not an atypical missive from Mr. Veserat. Much of what I have seen is tortured and one must read and re-read in an attempt to get the point. Ditto if you watch him at council meetings. I often don't know what to make of his spoken statements.

  10. "I think I'll just let the written record speak for itself rather than try to sort out these reactions. "

    I think that is best nor should you assume that one writer meant this or that when their letter never said it.