Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Redistricting makes orphans of two supervisors
Kilkenny, Weber, share District 5 with Redenius

by Chris Schultz

May 19, 2011

Elkhorn — In a process that tried to squeeze as much politics out of County Board redistricting as possible, three supervisors will probably find themselves in the same district come the 2012 election.

On Tuesday, following a public hearing, the Walworth County Board approved a tentative county redistricting map with just a small amendment, to be reviewed by the county municipalities.

The small map amendment, putting about 72 acres of open land that Delavan plans to annex into District 8, was approved unanimously.

That amendment, however, did nothing to change the fact that supervisors Carl Redenius, Dan Kilkenny and David Weber find themselves within the redrawn District 5.

Currently, Redenius is the District 5 supervisor; Kilkenny represents District 8 and Weber District 7.

Redenius lives at W8411 Turtle Lake Road, still well within District 5, although the new District 5 will lose its section of the town of Whitewater to District 3.

As a marshmallow is squeezed from the top, however, District 5 seemed to bulge into Districts 8 and 7, right over where Kilkenny and Weber live.

The map was prepared by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) using criteria set down by the County Board.

By board resolution, supervisors were not allowed to contact SEWRPC individually about the redistricting, nor was SEWRPC allowed to consider the home addresses of incumbent supervisors.

Still, finding three supervisors within the same redrawn District 5 came as a surprise, County Administrator David Bretl said later, after the meeting.

Because of tight deadlines set by state statute, the County Board had to approve a preliminary draft of the new supervisory districts to be sent on to the county towns, villages and cities for their 60-day review by May 21, Bretl said.

There is still a procedural chance that municipal requests for district amendments might reposition one or both of the displaced supervisors back into their home districts, but none of the supervisors in the new District 5 is taking those chances seriously.

The three supervisors argued strenuously on the County Board floor against allowing the redraw to proceed as proposed, at least without further discussion. But their efforts failed.

With Supervisor Rick Stacey absent, Weber and Kilkenny moved that the vote on the redistricting be delayed until all 11 board members were present.

A vote to delay tentative approval of the plan was turned back 5 to 5, with Supervisors Redenius, Kilkenny, Weber, Kathy Ingersoll and Joe Schaefer voting to delay. Supervisors Nancy Russell, Richard Brandl, Jerry Grant, Randy Hawkins and Russ Wardle voted against it.

Hawkins' motion that the board accept the redrawn map was then approved 6 to 4, with Schaefer switching to the majority.

Perhaps most deeply hurt by the redistricting is Weber. He is most closely identified with Williams Bay. He served on the Village Board and the School Board. Now, living at 2789 Theatre Road, Weber is technically in the town of Delavan, since 2004 he has served the supervisory district that represents the entire village.

The redrawn District 5 will push right up to Theatre Road, and Weber's house is on the wrong side, as far as District 7 is concerned.

."What I felt SEWRPC didn't do was take into account the nature of the constituency," Weber said in a later interview.

He said he was also disappointed that a majority of the other supervisors didn't support him in an effort at least to discuss doing minor readjustments to the new map.

In the 2012 election, Weber will find himself in the far southeast corner of a district he knows little about, while much of what he worked on and many of the people he worked with will be just across the street or down the road.

Weber said he doesn't believe he'll run for re-election in the new district. What's more, the redistricting will eliminate one other experienced supervisor, which will make things difficult for the county's compact 11-member board, he said.

Kilkenny lives at N3616 Elm Ridge Road, now in the southwest section of District 8, just outside the city of Delavan and just north of Interstate 43.

When the redraw takes effect, he will live in the more urbanized section of District 5 south of Highway 11. With contacts in the Darien and Delavan Lake areas,

"Personally, for me, I'm not troubled by it," Kilkenny said, in a later interview. He added he is considering running for the District 5 seat in 2012.

Kilkenny said what concerned him the most about the redistricting was the lack of discussion.

Perhaps the board adhered to its criteria for redistricting too closely, Kilkenny said. It's possible that the process squeezed too much of the politics out of the redistricting, not allowing supervisors to at least debate the changes and propose amendments, he said.

Although Redenius will still be the District 5 incumbent when 2012 rolls around, he has the feeling that his district is leaving him.

"My personal opinion is that all the districts got bigger in a counter-clockwise direction," he said. That meant the center of his district moved away from him slightly.

He said he would get many calls from constituents in the town of Whitewater, and not so many from the area around Delavan Lake. District 5 will lose its section of the town of Whitewater to District 3, while its presence around Delavan Lake grows.

Like Kilkenny, Redenius said the process worked way too fast.

"What's the point of a public hearing if the public doesn't know what's coming?" he asked.

Russell, who is County Board chairwoman, said, like the county administrator, she was surprised that the redistricting created a situation where three incumbents were in the same district.

"I feel bad," Russell said of the displaced supervisors. On the other hand, she added, "I don't think it is right to change the rules because it didn't turn out right for a few people."

Russell said supervisors got a copy of the map a month before the public hearing on Tuesday.

The County Board's Executive Committee approved the criteria SEWRPC used to draw the map, Russell said. The map was reviewed by the County Board's Executive Committee, and recommended on a 3 to 2 vote, with Kilkenny and Weber voting against it. Russell, Hawkins and Brandl voted to recommend the map.