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Column: You may think April 4 is just another day, but you’d be wrong

By Dan Kontos

A mere few weeks away, the Spring primary election on April 4th has relatively few offices on the ballot, but their importance cannot be understated. If you value your community and standard of living, you’ll get out and exercise your right to vote. Let’s take a quick look at what’s coming up.

The most important race is for the vacant Supreme Court Justice seat. Former Justice Daniel Kelly is going up against Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz. The differences could not be more stark.

Justice Kelly sat on the Supreme Court once already, and has a proven record of doing what justices are supposed to do. Simply put, they look at the case, the law and Constitutions, and render a ruling based on the facts in evidence. Kelly has not legislated from the bench, and has respected what the Legislature and Governor have passed into law.

Judge Protasiewicz, on the other hand, is a disaster. She has already expressed her goal of overturning several decisions and statutes based on her predetermined biases. She has no intention of following her duty to be faithful to the law and Constitutions, but rather has practically declared herself as a super-legislator, who can issue political edicts from the bench.

This is an ethical violation, and should force her to recuse herself from these types of cases, if we are unfortunate enough to allow her to win. Her unscrupulous approach to the law disqualifies her on it’s face.

Need more proof? Her television ads about Justice Kelly blatantly lie by omission. She shamelessly claims that Kelly supported rapists and other criminals while he was in private practice. While true, Protasiewicz fails to point out that Kelly was a practicing defense attorney. 

Everyone has a constitutional right to be represented in criminal court, and these defendants were accused of crimes. Duh. Find me a crime that is good to be accused of. She is making the accusation that he is a bad person because he did his job. I know, let’s instead look at what horrendously light sentences that Protasiewicz gave out when she was a judge and really see how she is.

This may not be her only flaws, and she is accused by her stepson of abusing her elderly then-husband on several occasions. This story was then reportedly buried by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Very disturbing to say the least.

This race is a no-brainer. Justice Daniel Kelly is the only morally qualified choice for me.

Next, the Stevens Point Area Public School District has three seats open for election. When it comes to researching the candidates, at least on-line, we can clearly see that there isn’t much out there. The media hasn’t covered this race well, and the candidates have largely done little to promote themselves. Then again, we want board members, not sales and marketing experts, so we’ll have to muddle through.

For me, I’m interested in folks who will honestly question the status quo. I’m not interested in perpetuating tired ideas and failed ideologies. That’s why I will be casting my votes for Miguel Campos, Alex Sommers, and Ted Kowalski. I think their temperaments, backgrounds, and experiences are closer to what I am looking for.

Now, I’ve told you before that I am not a resident of the City of Stevens Point, but the race for mayor there is consequential for the entire area. Incumbent Mayor Mike Wiza is facing off against City Council President Meleesa Johnson. 

During the February primary, with almost 4,600 votes cast, Wiza captured nearly 50 percent, while Johnson garnered just under 30 percent, and for good reason.

Say what you want about Mayor Wiza; he has been a figure who has tried to be large and in-charge. His boisterous and often brash persona has earned him lots of attention.

He has guided the city through several projects, and has maintained a no qualms approach to putting his municipality first – which you would expect. From this outsider’s perspective, Wiza has done a good job in leading the city, considering what he has been given. For half of the voters so far this year, it appears that they agree.

Alder Johnson, on the other hand, certainly has made an impact on the city as well. From bike lanes to plans for Business 51, her indelible mark on the character of Stevens Point has left a sour taste in many voters’ mouths. She talks a good game of equity and inclusion, but failed to lead the Common Council to focus on the big picture, take advantage of the impressive potential that the city has, and make life better for the residents that she serves.

Johnson has never displayed any sort of true visionary leadership as council president, or city alder, or even her unsuccessful time on the County Board. Now to expect that she has deserved the opportunity to lead the city is preposterous. Perhaps it is time for her to focus on Emerson Park and fade into the background.

Of course, there are also three referendum questions for all voters to consider. The first allows courts to impose on an accused person being released before conviction conditions that are designed to protect the community from serious harm. The second allows courts to impose cash bail on a person accused of a violent crime based on the totality of the circumstances. The third asks whether able-bodied, childless adults be required to look for work in order to receive taxpayer-funded welfare benefits. Ah, yes to all three, please.

There are other questions and selections for people to consider, but these are the big ones. Don’t take my word for anything; do your own research – as always. Reasonable people can, and will, disagree. But we don’t get a say unless we express our thoughts and vote, so make plans to vote early or get out to the polls.

So, with that, let’s meet in the opinion section to talk about all of it, boldly, honestly, and with a healthy respect for each other. It’s up to you. Until then, God bless.