Four Dane County Supervisors chose not to vote “yes” on a resolution that says “the Dane County Board stands in unity with all of its fellow constituents against racism, anti-Semitism, bigotry and hate.”
Bill Clausius of Sun Prairie and Dave Ripp of rural Waunakee both abstained. Ron Ferrell, who represents portions of Madison’s west side, did not vote and sat mute during the roll call. Mike Willett of Verona left the room during the vote.
“I actually thought that all my colleagues would vote for this,” said Carousel Bayrd, the lead sponsor of the resolution. “I think this is one of the easiest votes we’ve ever made. It shouldn’t have any political leaning to it. There’s nothing controversial. It’s pretty straightforward.”
The resolution also says, “the Dane County Board of Supervisors unequivocally condemns the racist, violent actions of the white supremacists and neo-Nazis Charlottesville.”
Read the full text of the resolution here.
“In 1970 I enlisted in the Marine Corps. I was willing to fight for this country and for the people to be able to think and say what they want,” Ripp wrote in an email to Madison365. “That includes people I consider nut cases whether they are Liberal or Conservative, Black or White.”
“I am against all kinds of racism and violence, including the KKK and Neo-Nazis,” Willett said in an email. “That includes violence on the streets in Dane county as well as at any rally, permitted or not. This resolution dealt ONLY with condemning the violence in Charlottesville. If we are going to spend time on a resolution about violence we need to start with Dane County, and then perhaps we could include all violence.”
Willett also viewed the resolution as a waste of time.
“I believe that the Dane County Board needs to spend their time on the immediate issues facing Dane County, not making political statements to help the sponsors in future elections,” he said.
“When the county board has a resolution condemning all violence of any kind, I will be in full support of that Resolution,” wrote Ferrell in an email to Madison365 following the vote. “I am more concerned about the multiple people that are victims of violence in Dane County every day than I am about making some kind of statement to check a box on someone’s political scorecard. The Dane County Board is a non-partisan body and I do not participate in political activities of any kind.”
“I find that statement preposterous,” Bayrd said. “It’s not a competition. It’s not an either-or.”
Bayrd said the resolution, which had 28 cosponsors, sailed through the committee process.
“There was no discussion in committee, because there’s nothing to discuss,” Bayrd said. “It’s just a statement. A bare minimum statement. I wouldn’t fathom that I’d ever have to write something like this. But when the president of the United States can’t condemn Nazis, I guess we do need our elected representatives to say this.”
Clausius did not respond to messages seeking comment. All the other supervisors present voted in favor of the resolution.
This story has been updated to include Ripp’s response.