UPDATE: Two Town of Middleton Board incumbents lose to write-in - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

UPDATE: Two Town of Middleton Board incumbents lose to write-in candidates

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Town of Middleton Board Chair Bill Kolar and Seat 1 Supervisor Tim Roehl both suffered shocking losses to write-in candidates Tuesday, as voters punished both for Roehl's support and Kolar's silence on Republican legislation specific to Dane County that is being considered at the State Capitol.

Cynthia Richson defeated Kolar by a 52-48 percent margin, while Richard Oberle trounced Roehl 56-44 percent.

Richson told 27 News Wednesday she had no intention of running, until she saw Roehl publicly testify on behalf of Assembly Bill 109 on March 8.

AB 109 is a piece of Republican legislation that would have allowed town boards to opt out of Dane County zoning regulations without getting approval from voters.

"After the testimony from Tim Roehl of (saying) - 'well, the chair and I have been working on this a long time and I don't think the citizens should have a legal, binding right to vote, because we know more,'" said Richson.

With less than three weeks to mount a campaign, Richson and Oberle only got about thirty yard signs and banners out, but they relied on talking to people and word-of-mouth to get the rest of the job done.

"Honestly, it was the incredible citizens of the Town of Middleton," said Richson. "This was really a grassroots campaign and without their help this wouldn't have happened."

Roehl said he didn't think public sentiment against opting out of Dane County zoning regulations was that strong.

"I would have thought that people would have seen that having local control and the town being able to make money on permits, which they never have before," said Roehl. "I thought (it) would be a benefit and better customer service for town residents."

Kolar said he hadn't come out publicly with a position on the issue, but got lumped in with Roehl unfairly.

The nine-year incumbent said he tried to explain to residents over the weekend that he sees positives and negatives to opting out, but that Richson's allegation he was in full support of the changes had already taken hold.

"People are going to get discouraged from running for political office because they get attacked personally for trying to fight back, but people believe what they want to believe," Kolar told 27 News Wednesday morning.

An amendment to AB 109 would allow town residents to retain their rights to approve an opt out through a vote at a town meeting or through a referendum, and Kolar planned to hold such a vote at the Middleton Town Board's annual meeting on April 18.

But Richson said it wasn't clear to her that vote wouldn't still be considered "advisory" and that Kolar and Roehl wouldn't have gone against the wishes of the citizens regardless.

Richson opposes opting out, but said she still plans to call a vote on the issue when she takes over on April 18.

"Actually, I anticipate we will give citizens a voice and a vote and I will treat it as binding," said Richson.

The State Assembly was expected to approve AB 109 on Tuesday, but Dane County Democrats were able to use a procedural maneuver to delay the vote until Thursday.

With the State Senate not scheduled to return to the floor until May, that makes it unlikely the legislation can pass and be signed into law by April 18.

That date is important because it's when each of the eight Dane County towns considering an an opt out had planned to hold a vote of its citizens at its annual meetings.

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