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The percentage of registered voters in the greater Verona area who participated in the Tuesday, Feb. 16, primary sits at just over 10% – less than half of the people that voted in the same race a year ago.

The races on the ballot for Verona area residents were fairly similar – both had only a run-off race for a state-level seat. The Tuesday, Feb. 16, spring primary brought 990 voters in the City of Verona, and 187 in the Town of Verona, in comparison to February 2020, where 1,947 and 361 people participated, respectively, according to unofficial vote tallies.

The results are considered unofficial because they haven’t been certified by the state, a process that occurs during every election that is expected to start this week.

While voter turnout was lower, the percentage of absentee votes cast stayed above 50% in each district, with 56.4% of them returned through mail or done during early voting hours. The city had a slightly higher rate of absentee voting, with 568 ballots, or 57.4%, being mailed in, dropped off at the city’s dropbox or done in-person; the town was slightly lower, with 96 ballots, or 51.3%, done through absentee.

The town had a high rate of absentee ballots issued, but not returned – 99 people had a request on file for an absentee ballot but didn’t return it in time for it to be counted.

The percentage of absentee ballots dipped significantly from the three previous elections that have occurred since the start of the pandemic last March. Both the April and August 2020 elections saw at least 83% votes cast through absentee ballots, with the following November 2020 presidential election decreasing slightly to 80.8%.

Voters here were more likely to support state superintendent candidates Jill Underly – who ultimately came in first in the state-wide race – and Sheila Briggs. Nearly 40% of city voters cast their ballots for Underly, and just over 36% of the town’s voters did the same; another one-fourth of voters in both municipalities voted for Briggs.

The state-wide second-place finisher Deborah Kerr, who will move on to the April contest, received 165 votes from city voters, and 30 from town voters.

The April 6 election will feature a handful of local races. For the Verona Area Board of Education, there will be a five-way race for three at-large seats between incumbents Carolyn Jahnke and Kalyanna Williams, as well as newcomers Jennifer Murphy, John Porco and Nicole Vafadari. One other seat representing the outside cities has incumbent Meredith Stier Christensen running for re-election unopposed.

The Town of Verona will also feature a contested race for the Supervisor 2 seat between incumbent Mike Duerst and newcomer David Lonsdorf. Two other seats, a supervisor seat and the town chair role, both have incumbents Tom Mathies and Mark Geller, respectively, running for them with no opponents.

There will also be a county-wide race for Dane County executive, where incumbent Joe Parisi will vie the seat he’s held for a full decade. Town of Springdale resident Mary Ann Nicholson is running as an independent candidate to challenge him.

Four City of Verona alder seats are up for re-election, but none will have a contested election. There will be at least one new person on the Common Council come April, as Phil Hoescht runs to fill the District 3 seat that Charlotte Jerney is vacating.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at kimberly.wethal@wcinet.com and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.

News Editor

Kimberly Wethal joined Unified Newspaper Group in 2018, where she serves as the news editor for four publications and primarily covers the Verona Area School District and the City of Fitchburg. She previously was an intern with UNG starting in 2013.