Boots & Sabers

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2115, 16 Feb 16

West Bend School Board Primary Results

The top 4 go on to the general election for 2 seats.


This turned out about how I expected. I’m happy to see that the two candidates whom I prefer were the top two vote-getters. The race is shaping up a lot like several of the previous races. Without the candidates necessarily intending it, the race is splitting into a conservative ticket (Marquardt and Schmidt) and a liberal ticket (Larson and Donath). Unfortunately, Miller was left as the odd man out without a constituency backing him. I hope it doesn’t dissuade him from trying again in the future because he has a lot to offer.

Given that Miller is a conservative guy, I would have to expect most of his supporters will to go Marquardt and Schmidt. BUT, the general election will be an entirely different ball game. At 18.25%, voter turnout was higher in this race than it was in many other areas of the state, but it was still quite low. The April 5th general election ballot will also include the presidential primary. The last presidential primary election saw a turnout of 40% in Washington County, but that election wasn’t nearly as dramatic as it is this year – particularly on the Democratic side. That fact, coupled with the general election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, will likely push turnout even higher. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a turnout of 50%-60% in this county. If that’s the case, then less than half of the people who will vote in the general election voted in the primary.

In Washington County, high turnout elections favor candidates who identify as conservatives. Whichever candidates can fix themselves in the electorate’s mind as a conservative will likely win a school board seat. We’ll see how it goes.


2115, 16 February 2016


  1. John Merrick

    So Washington Cty favors conservatives and therefore you keep erroneously calling Tiffany Larson a liberal?

    You are laughable Owen. Laughable and irrelevant. Mrs. Larson is a conservative and married into a family who have been deeply entrenched in conservative politics for generations. Regardless, because she has chose to run a NONPARTISAN campaign in a NONPARTISAN school board race you have decided, with knowing nothing about her that you somehow can tell what her personal politics are and continue to paint a false picture.

    Calling someone something doesn’t make it true. I can run all over West Bend shouting, “OWEN ROBINSON IS GAY, Owen is Gay!” Does that mean readers of your blog are supprting the homosexual agenda? Because it is spoken, written or said does it make it true. Is Owen really gay??

    Does salacaious information or misleading titles feel kind of disgusting? It is frustrating when someone says something that is’t true? Even if it isn’t something offensive? I mean, who cares if you are gay? Who cares if someone is a liberal conservative? It’s not a personal attack, right?

    Randy Marquardt spends this district money without asking a question. Because he says he is a conservative doesn’t make him one. He has rubber stamped and got on his knees to bow to our King Superintendent and his fifedom at every turn. Fancy trips to NYC for King Nietzke? Yes! Losing 4 million to students leaving the district? He doesn’t care! Increasing the bloated middle management budget for the King’s cronies by 1.3 million dollars this year alone? Of course! Hundreds of thousands on failed testing and unproven, unvalidated initiaives? Yes, sir, may I have another!!!!!

    Marquardt makes Obama look like a fiscal conservative!

    Additionally, his outrageous often bigoted comments have cost this district a blighted reputation, made for horrible media publicity and cost us legal fees.

    Marquardt makes Biden look like a smooth, careful speaker!

    And lest we forget the issues as you are so apt to do. No one loves common core more then Randy Marquardt and King Ted. You dont have to work hard to find that information. Just google Ted and Dr. Evers and Randy. The Nietske/Evers bromance is legendary. Take a look at this trio. All of them supporting federal control of our schools and Common Core. Tiffany Larson supports local control of school districts. You know, because she is a conservative. Not just in words, but in actions.

    Supporting students, supporting teachers and demanding excellence in our district is NONPARTISAN and something we should all agree on. Is the real problem that Mrs. Larson is….well…..a Mrs and not a Mr? Too intelligent and outspoken for a wife? Who knows, one cannot begin to speculate on your hypocritical positions.

    Shame on you Owen for supporting Marquardt. Remember when you previously said he was awful. You change your tune more often then Hillary!

    Whom maybe you should consider supporting given your recent love of liberal spending on the school board.

    Conservatives vote Larson in April!!

  2. Owen

    Wow. That is quite the word salad, John. Let me just clarify one thing that you have have missed. I said, “Without the candidates necessarily intending it, the race is splitting into a conservative ticket (Marquardt and Schmidt) and a liberal ticket (Larson and Donath).” This is undeniably true. Whether or not Larson considers herself a liberal or not, her support is coming from the liberals in the district and she is being consistently paired with Donath – a demonstrable liberal – by supporters. If you are a conservative, doesn’t it give you pause that you’re on the same page as the likes of Finke and crew? What are the liberal community leaders and teachers union seeing that you aren’t?

    As a side note, this election has been interesting in that I am consistently getting vigorous rants like yours in response to anything I say about Larson – but very little commentary on anyone else. Her supporters are very aggressive and seem to want to trash anyone who has an opinion contrary to their own. This indicates one of two possibilities for me. Either I am completely wrong in my impression of her and how she would govern, which is certainly possible, or I am completely right and her supporters want to silence contrary opinions. The viciousness of the response makes me lean toward the latter possibility. If she were really planning to govern as a conservative, she and her supporters would be trying to win me over – not tear me down.

  3. Emory

    First off- please forgive my spelling and punctuation. Dammit Owen, I’m an Engineer- not a Lawyer.
    In a nutshell I can sum up the reason you are getting such a response about Tiffany. It’s because…. wait for it… falsely accusing. In print, it’s called Libel.
    I get you like Marquette. I spoke with him just the other day, and I like him too. He’s a nice guy. I agree with him on most things, except of course- Common Core. There- we will always be polar opposites.
    Randy used to have passion. I voted for him several times. But now- with no kids of his in the West Bend Schools (which I personally think you have no business being on the school board unless you have a dog in the race) I just have to say to Randy- as much as I’ve liked you in the past- You’ve lost that loving feeling, Bro.
    So in conclusion- if you call Tiffany a Liberal- I hope you mean with a capital “L.” Anything else is simply false. To my friend Randy- I respect your desire to stay on the board, but your fire has changed to cinders. Teaching kids common core math I am vehemently against. What is the end goal? Graduate HS with a Masters Degree in Computer science? I don’t get the logic- I am opposed to it. (That’s my official stance- should anyone reading this want to know, and pull me from any school committee I am serving on.)
    Change is not permanent, but change is. (You have gotta love the Rush weave-in, aye?)

  4. Owen

    Thanks for the comment, Emory. As an engineer myself, I won’t be too strict with my red pen ;)

    The problem here is with the sliding scale of ideology. Based on her writings and positions, Larson is more liberal than me when it comes to the issues facing the district. I disagree with some of her diagnoses and prescriptions. As this election progresses, I suspect that we’ll have some time to get into some details. I am to understand that she is quite conservative in her personal life, but her vision for the district is not one that I share, nor is it one that is particularly conservative. BTW, it is not libel for me to characterize her positions as liberal. It is my opinion to which I am entitled.

    As for Randy, he does have a grand kid in the district still, but even if he didn’t, I disagree with your position that a board member must have kids in the district. The school board is a community board that represents the entire community – not just those with kids using the district’s services. If we are to limit membership on the board to just people with kids in the district, then we should also limit the tax levy to the same stakeholders.

    While I don’t agree with all of Randy’s positions (I vehemently disagreed with his support for the last referendum), I support the majority of his record and the direction he is advocating.



  5. Kris

    Owen,I believe the reason you are hearing from supporters of Tiffany Larson is directly related to the fact that you are again reporting inaccurate information about her. If you were doing the same about the other candidates, you would likely hear from their supporters as well. Isn’t there some kind of code of ethics that one needs to follow? I would think that at the bare minimum, you should be required to report truthful information. So mystery solved, that is why people are so “vicious” in their responses. You reap what you sow.

  6. Amy M. Salberg

    Owen, in response to your question regarding whether you are “wrong in [your] impression of Tiffany and how she would govern or completely right,” you’re wrong. That is why the conservatives in this community like those who have posted here, Tonnie Schmidt in her letter to the editor posted on The Washington County insider, and other conservatives in the community are calling you out on it so vociferously.

    When it comes to conservative principles, Tiffany exemplifies and carries them out. I’m wondering how Randy “Common Core” Marquart can harmonize his stance on that centralized curriculum with the conservative principle that the government closest to the people governs best.

    You are creating a false dichotomy putting the women on the ballot on one side of this debate (painting them both as liberals, when only one is) and the men on the other (painting them both as conservatives when one of them has demonstrated otherwise when it comes to education issues like Common Core – I do not know enough about Ken to say what his stances or allegiances are yet).

    I can only surmise that the reason Jennifer Donath’s supporters use Tiffany’s name is to help Jennifer Donath appear more conservative in this community, which has caused some confusion for those who do not know Tiffany. In fact, even though I thought I knew Tiffany before, it was this pairing by those who support Jennifer Donath that gave me some misgivings about supporting Tiffany’s candidacy. That is, until I sat down with Tiffany and, keeping an open mind, heard her out. I suggest you and your readers do the same.

    Thank you,

    Amy M. Salberg

  7. Emory

    First off- I agree with Amy.
    Second- I am hearing the tone of absolutes coming from your writing. Nowhere did I say you “must” stay off the school board. I gave the benefit of someone taking the high road- and dismissing themselves. I would never force them out or imply that they should be. But if it was me- I’d do it out of my own integrity and appreciation of the office. Spending at the school level is done by the school board anyway. Spending that requires big bucks needs a referendum. So- we’re covered either way, as a tax payer or the people with kids in school.
    So- getting back to your obvious bee’s nest you’ve wacked with a broom and are now trying to get out of- perhaps you should talk with Tiffany directly. I assume your identity is not a secret and I would hope you could say the same things to her face as you do behind the computer. The absolutist attitude in your blogs kind of beg for it. A face to face meeting. Take the high road Owen, take the high road.

  8. Anon Y. Mous

    From on-line “lurking” at the Bender’s group, the problem I am having is understanding where that group is coming from – who is using who to advance their personal agendas? Is Ms. Donath riding on Ms. Larson’s “conservative” coattails via her (Larson’s) support from the middle of road conservative types, or is Ms. Larson riding on Ms. Donath’s “liberal” coattails via her (Donath’s) support from the Bender’s group, which includes strong influences from the local Democratic party (Waring Fincke, who is also a site administrator, as well as Jennifer Donath) and the WBEA – Tanya Lohr used it as a forum to get popular support for a personnel action taken against her and the attempt to sabotage the final exam process. Even going so far as being on TV, having Benders storm the Board meeting, getting students to do petitions to support her, petitions against taking exams.

    I would like to see both of them stand on their principals (whatever they are), acknowledge that as Board members they have a duty to represent all sectors of the community, and that sometimes decisions will be made that will make no one “happy” and how they will deal with the blow back that results. I first became aware of the group when they jumped in to defend a teacher who was fired for being part of a bullying incident involving a special education student – they were disappointed that Board member Ryan Gieryn who was “supposedly” their friend would not chime in on the way it was being handled – anyone with common sense would have known that in a personnel action, he would have been been violating code of ethics by making any statements about it and that could have cost the district money. Later on, common sense prevailed in that group and they let the process run it’s course.

  9. Owen


    Besides the one mistake in my column about you which I corrected, I haven’t said anything false. You may disagree with my characterization, but that’s not a factual error.

    Amy and Emory,

    I did meet with Larson in person and we did discuss where I disagree with her on some of her views. She’s perfectly nice and I enjoyed the conversation, but we disagree on some things. That’s why I chose to vote for someone else. You do bring up a good point that it could be the lefties seeking to glom onto Larson in order to give cover for Donath. That would be another explanation for why all of the liberals in town are supporting her. Of course, the other rational explanation is because they believe that she will govern in a way they like.

  10. Emory

    I hope you mean Tiffany Larson, because confusion like a last name certainly doesn’t help considering there is another Larson on the board.
    As I tell my fellow engineers, collect the data, interpret best you can and then make a decision. Don’t waffle on it, just make the decision based on the data you have at hand. Subjectivity is not why we became engineers. If that was the case, I would have become a liberal Professor teaching a required college course using my bully pulpit to blame the 1%. (whoops- did I just say that out loud?)

  11. Owen

    Yes, Tiffany Larson

  12. T of B

    Who is the other Larson on the Board?

  13. Mark Maley

    Ms Larson’s campaign is Nixonian in its approach toward the election along with a coverup that will be explored in more depth now that she is in the finals for the positions

    In true Nixonian fashion , she ran as a candidate of the left ( recommended by the Benders group ) and now her surrogates are
    Touting her Republican and Conservative bonafides as she runs back to the center

    The cover up is her actions after her husband didn’t receive the East Girs basketball job

    She and her husband immediately began a smear campaign against the new coach Questioning his character , employment past as a minister and sowing discontent inside the program among incoming freshman parents that continues today

    Their ” demands” for the hiring to be rescinded so The husband could be given the job and coach their daughter were bold and fact free

    Her husbands role in spreading rumors about the former coach, his close association with the disgraced and now fired ( because that’s what it was) East AD were papered over under the guise of “concerns” about the district hiring process

    The facts in this matter will eliminate any concern about how MS Larson leans politically .

    Actions speak louder than policy positions

    Their ambition is no self serving , so all consuming and so willing to destroy another persons reputation before they even started their job that their run for the school board is just an arrogant extension of getting their way by any means necessary

    The calculation must have been that their actions would not be brought forward

    That could prove to be yet another mistake

  14. Jack

    Mark Maley referred to another individual as “arrogant”. A touch of irony if you ask me.

    Take what he says with a grain of salt. We all know the result of his school board campaign a few years back. The majority spoke in disagreement of his ideologies then, and they shouldn’t put much stock in them now either.

  15. Mark Maley

    Sorry Jack
    This has nothing to do with ideologies

    The facts will come forward and the voters can decide

  16. Kelli Schultz

    I would like to respond to you as logically as possible and not attack you in any way but you are really obsessed with this basketball thing.

    You are familiar with the fact that none of the basketball programs at the hs even do very well, aren’t you? I mean, they may be filled with wonderful student athletes, coaches and parents but let’s be honest…no one is getting ready to write a movie script about their success. The Blind Side or Miracle…we are not.

    Just to clarify, Ron is a successful wealth manager. I really don’t think he needed the 3,000 coaching salary in any way. Nor does any ‘power’ come with a coaching position. It’s basically a volunteer gig. Much like the school board.

    Tiffany’s agenda is not about politics, it is about service. She’s a kind, honest, intelligent conservative Christian woman. One who has stood by quietly with class and grace while you’ve attacked her family on multiple occasions. The only smear campaign is your own. And to what end? If you don’t like her or her positions, don’t vote for her. If you don’t like her husband, that’s ok too but you claim to despise him over the same kind of behavior you are demonstrating. Behavior I’ve never seen Ron display in the 30 years I’ve known him, but that’s just my opinion. Why don’t you speak to them directly instead of insulting them online?

    Everyone involved in this school board race wants the same thing, excellence in the district. The only disparity among the candidates and supporters is in the logistics of the path taken to achieve that goal. Academics, athletics and the arts all certainly play an important role but there are more significant issues at bay than a girls’ basketball coach. Knowing a candidate’s position on common core , curriculum, appropriate allocation of funding, testing platforms, discipline, etc are all much more serious, pressing issues.

    Tiffany has taken the time to develop an educated position on all of those issues and has shared them on her blog and facebook page. Her ideas are publicly available for voters to best determine if they are aligned. Her platform speaks for itself and those that support her ideology should vote for her. If you don’t, find another candidate to support. But for God’s sake, make an intellectual choice based on the issues not the rantings of one individual.

    No other candidate has displayed such a breadth and depth of knowledge regarding the issues facing this district as Tiffany has. I’m proud she is my friend. I’m proud to support her candidacy.

    Students here deserve support and honest debate on the real issues facing this district. They deserve to see adults modeling appropriate behavior and decision making. Shame on anyone who’d rather sidetrack intellectual conversation and debate to encourage a circus.

  17. Kris

    I am fully aware of the situation with the basketball program. I think most everyone is so I do not expect that to be as much of a “reveal” as you are anticipating. I am also aware of your role in that situation and would suggest that you take care not to attack Tiffany’s character at the expense of revealing your own. Because you and your buddies have decided that she ran as a candidate on the left, does not mean it is true. It is your perception not a reality. I’m guessing based on the fact that the teachers support her. Honestly, it is possible to be a conservative and still value your employees and seek their expertise, value their contributions, and be concerned about their work environment. This is Tiffany’s concern with the teachers. And, perhaps it comes from a place of the spending that must occur when we lose seasoned teachers, the loss of their expertise, the effect on our students learning, the effect on test scores and then the constant purchasing of more programs to improve those scores, and the decreased desire to work in this district. My property value is tied to this district’s ability to provide a solid and consistent education. Many people believe this is directly related to the people who provide that education….teachers. We are conservatives, and my husband values his employees. If he ran his business any other way, I would be embarrassed for him. Respecting their position does not make him any less conservative. As Kelli said, make an intellectual choice based on the postitions of the candidates on the issues that are important…common core, testing, spending, discipline,etc. If you still feel the need to push forward with the issue regarding basketball, I think you will provide a perfect platform for Tiffany to speak to the reasons that she is running since that situation simply provided an impetus to be part of the solution to the many concerns facing our district.

  18. Mark Maley


    I have always supported the teachers general concerns and still do . I was the only one of 7 original board candidates in my losing campaign Owen couldn’t support
    ( although we are cordial today )

    Kris, I’ll call you

    My opinion is that both candidate and husband owe a simple apology to the current East coach

    I make mistakes , everyone does . The trick is
    To make amends when the issue is either discovered internally or brought before you

    It doesn’t have to be public , but it is deserved

    You 2 must have access , give them my suggestion


  19. T of B

    Was it your campaign (Mark) that got tripped up by a candidate that decided not to run, but it was too late to go off the ballot, and he still got a bunch of votes – as I recall, that person was not part of the conservative slate?

  20. Mark Maley


    She and I were both of the same mind . She quit after the first debate

    She got 2,000 votes . I lost by 300

    No regrets – I’ve had a nice 3-4 years without Monday night meetings

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