Finding North Without a Compass

A retired Army officer and retired Fortune 500 executive, Warren may be best known for making waves while serving on the Mequon Common Council and Ozaukee County Board. He's no longer an elected official, but he has plenty to say about local, state and national issues.



{* Luddite - A member of a group named after a 19th century English set of workers who opposed technology that was moving society forward.  Engaged in the physical destruction of industrial machinery. ]
It’s been interesting this past year, watching the Mequon Luddites emerge from their 20 year slumber, like the cicadas, and elect a mayor more in line with their philosophy.  Simply stated, their philosophy is this: “We like living in Mequon or ‘we got ours’ and we don’t want people from elsewhere to come here and ‘get theirs’.”  They are against any progress that could cause this to happen.  At one time or another, this crowd opposed the hospital, movie theater, Newcastle, Concordia University, Pavilion as well as widening Port Washington and Mequon Roads among others.  So they put up Alderman Dan Abendroth for mayor in 2013 and were elated when he won. I’m not sure the Mequon Luddites are as excited as they were last April since Mayor Abendroth had tended to stick closer to a middle ground, but he has appointed several of the Mequon  Luddite buddies to Mequon’s Boards and Commission.   

The Mequon Luddites suffered a set-back the first year of the Mayor’s term when a special election to fill his former alderman seat was won by Rob Strzelczyk against strong Luddite opposition.  Now comes the local election of April 2013 with two aldermanic seats open as  incumbents chose not to seek re-election.  District 5 Alderman Seider was a strong supporter of the Mayor so the Mequon Luddites figured whoever  won  would side with their philosophy. District 2's, Ken Zganjar, was a different story.  He had beaten the Mayor’s supporter, Alderman Mayr, for Council President in a rough contest.  Filling his seat would be key. 

So the Mequon Luddites went out and solicited an old war horse, Bob Ashmore, who had served as a Mequon alderperson in the 90's during the Mayor Moriarty era.   Ashmore’s motives were apparent – as the chairman of Mayor Abendroth’s campaign upset win in 2013, he was aware that the Mayor’s backers needed at least one more vote in the Mequon Common Council to assure it would achieve at least a 4-4 tie in the Common Council, against any forward action in Mequon. A tie vote would permit the Mayor to vote and break a tie, so he could veto any progress that the Mequon Luddites opposed.  Losing the special election in aldermanic District 1 to Rob Strzelczyk to fill the Mayor’s former seat had created a 5-3 unbalance in the Common Council for Mequon’s continued progress that was the antithesis of the Mequon Luddites’ principles.   

The Mequon Luddite crowd, who had gone all out for Mayor Abendroth’s election, were elated. It was going to be like shooting fish in a barrel, especially since no opponent signed up to oppose Ashmore on the ballot.  The Mequon Luddite team leaders, began pushing Ashmore’s election with time, money and letters to the editor.

My Mequon aldermanic District 6 did not have a competitive race on the ballot, so I was a just an interested observer to the machinations going on in District 2.  I was a surprised as anyone when  it was officially announced that former Mequon Mayor, Connie Pukaite, agreed to become a write-in candidate for alderperson in District 2 opposing Ashmore.  I had never met the former Mayor or even spoken with her but I realized what a mountain she had to climb to win as a write-in candidate.  I subsequently learned that she was slated as a “stealth candidate” to be announced the last two weeks before the election, conducting a blitzkrieg campaign to catch Ashmore and his Mequon Luddite supporters off-guard.    

By a quirk, it didn’t work out that way.  One of Pukaite’s major supporters, who was a driving force in securing her assent to become a write-in candidate, sent a private and personal Email on February 1 to a former Mequon Mayor. (Not Pukaite)  After several paragraphs of private chit-chat, he mentioned the “stealth campaign with a blitzkrieg in the final two weeks” re Pukaite’s write-in campaign, in the hopes they could catch the Ashmore campaign off-guard.   The quirk was that when he clicked on his friend’s Email address, it entered his personal Email address and his former Email address (, obviously no longer active for him. This  Email, was intercepted by someone along the line, disclosed to the Ashmore campaign and the cat was out of the bag.  

Election Day came with my prediction of long odds that Pukaite could pull off a write-in victory.  Boy was I wrong!  When I checked the results on the Mequon NOW Internet site the following morning, I was astounded to find that Connie Pukaite not only won a write-in victory but crushed Ashmore by a 362 to 253 margin. (59% to 41%).   Wow, Ashmore and the Mequon Luddites not only lost, but they were thumped.  

How did losing candidate, Ashmore, respond?  Not very well if his comments in the local newspapers are any indication.  He lashed out on the Committee for Election Choices, which supported Pukaite, accusing them of having an “aggressive development push,” an anathema for the Mequon Luddites’ true goal of “we got ours – you can’t get yours.”  Then he blamed some local radio talk shows for bringing to light his public pro-Arab/ anti-Israel sentiments including his several long-time memberships in Arab-American organizations.  That turned out the Jewish community in District 2 in large numbers, who wrote-in Connie Pukaite on their ballots.  Somehow, Ashmore seemed to believe that if he never injected Israel, Palestine or American foreign policy into local politics, he was somehow immune.  Funny, didn’t we just see the CEO of Mozilla  Firefox Company have to resign because he contributed to an anti-gay rights referendum cause two years in his past.  Voters look at the whole person when they vote and Ashmore obviously came up short.  But he couldn’t leave quietly, oh no, he had to spit out some more of his anti-Israel venom.  He stated that he’ll get even by ramping up his advocacy for Palestine through his organizational memberships in Amnesty International and B'Tselem. ( B'Tselem has been harshly criticized by Israeli nationalists. In 2011, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman charged the group with abetting terrorism and weakening Israel's defense forces.)

With the rout of Ashmore and his Mequon Luddite supporters, let’s hope that all Mequon residents can look forward to a moderate Mayor leading a civil and cooperative Common Council whose primary goal is the long-term well-being of all Mequon citizens.

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