Non-Partisan Elections

Click the image to learn more. This early twentieth century campaign poster encourages people to elect Peter Kaminski as a Milwaukee alderman and promises a "Clean Non-Partisan Administration."

The impetus for non-partisan elections at the local level in Wisconsin originated with a fear among Milwaukee Republicans and Democrats that their Socialist competitors might become a sustained political alternative following the election of Emil Seidel in the 1910 mayoral election. Two years later, during the next campaign for mayor, Republicans and Democrats united behind a single candidate who won. To blunt future threats from Milwaukee’s Social Democratic Party, mainstream legislators in Madison quickly passed a bill in the spring of 1912 to make most local offices across Wisconsin non-partisan, stripping away party identification from the ballot. A handful of county-based positions, including clerk, sheriff, and district attorney, remain partisan positions.[1]

Footnotes [+]

  1. ^ Bayrd Still, Milwaukee: The History of a City (Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1948), 520-21; Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, The Framework of Your Wisconsin Government (Madison, WI: Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, 1997), 98; Wisconsin Blue Book, 2015-16, (Madison, WI: Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, 2015), 871.

For Further Reading

Donoghue, James R. Local Government in Wisconsin. Madison, WI: Reprint from Wisconsin Blue Book, 1979-80.

Still, Bayrd. Milwaukee: The History of a City. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1948.


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