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The Village of Maple Bluff’s Spring Election is Tuesday, April 2, 2024 at the Village Center (18 Oxford Place, Madison, WI 53704) from 7:00am-8:00pm.

Local Contests on the Ballot:

  • Village Trustees (3) – Incumbent Ben Schmidt is not seeking re-election. Candidates for the three seats up for election include; Robert J Gingras, Kristine Jaeger (Incumbent), Paula Cooper Hughes, Lillian Bickers, Mike B Wittenwyler (Incumbent), and Greg Engle.
  • Municipal Judge – Incumbent Denis Vogel is not seeking re-election. Walter R Stewart is the single candidate for this race.

Voter Registration: To check your registration status visit myvote.wi.gov. Online registration through the MyVote website is open through March 13th. After March 13th, registration can be done in-person at the Village Center during business hours or on Election Day. You will need to provide Proof of Residence.

Absentee Voting (by mail): Request your ballot now at myvote.wi.gov. Ballots will be mailed beginning March 12th. The deadline to request a mailed ballot is March 29th at 5:00pm. Voted ballots must be returned by USPS or hand delivered to office staff by 8:00pm on Election Day. Ballots will not be counted if received in a drop box, hand delivered by someone else, or after 8:00pm on Election Day. Click Here To Vote By Mail

Absentee Voting (in person): March 19th – March 29th, during office hours of 8:00am – 4:00pm Monday – Thursday and 8:00am – noon Friday March 22nd, with an extension to 5:00pm on Friday March 29th. Location – Village Center, 18 Oxford Place. Bring your photo ID. Click Here For Early Voting Info

Election Day: Bring your photo ID and vote at the Village Center, 18 Oxford Place, Madison, WI 53704 from 7:00am – 8:00pm on April 2nd, 2024!

Village Board of Trustees Candidates

Robert J Gingras


My name is Bob Gingras. I have been a resident of Maple Bluff since 2004. I am the founding partner of Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs, a law firm that represents individuals/plaintiffs in the areas of personal injury and civil rights litigation. I have been a trial lawyer in these areas for over 40 years. I was recently voted to be among the top 25 lawyers in Madison in Madison Magazine. I have also served on the Board of Directors of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure (Breast Cancer) for six years.

Why are you running for Village Trustee?

I am not a politician and have never served on a Village or City Board before. However, I have decided to run for a board position because of certain recent events and issues including the Halloween changes, the “We call the police” signs and the village’s high speed police chase policy. I was and am opposed to these types of policies. In particular, I believe the current high speed police chase policy clearly endangers our citizens and particularly our children. It also exposes our Village to potential legal liability. I would try my best to change this policy so that a more restrictive and safe policy was adopted by the Village, much like the policies implemented by the cities of Madison and Middleton. I believe I would bring a perspective to the board that would help protect the individual rights and safety of its citizens and children. This should be the primary objective of how any local government should operate or run.

Kristine Jaeger (Incumbent)


Hello, I am Kristine Jaeger. I have lived in Maple Bluff for over 19 years with my family. My husband Ed and I have raised our three kids in the village: Grace (20), Finn (18), and Olive (13). I grew up in Oconomowoc and moved to Madison to attend UW-Madison. I fell in love with the city and my husband and never left. At UW-Madison I earned a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture with an emphasis in Business. Years ago, I worked in banking, lending, and investments. I’ve managed a flower shop, have been a stay-at-home mom, and currently work in residential real estate as an agent. My civic and volunteer experiences are diverse, I have served on the Board of Trustees for four terms now and am continually learning new things about being a volunteer for a small governmental body. I serve on the Urban Forestry, Plan Commission, Building Board, Board of Review, Public Works, and Personnel committees. I have volunteered in the community at my kids’ schools on various committees, too many to list. I have helped with Luke House meals through the church. The St. Patrick’s Day parade has been important to my family, and you will have seen us walking in the parade, this year it is on St. Patrick’s Day. I have volunteered at the Country Club organizing the 9-hole ladies golf, and the village Fest on the 4th, CYGW, and consistently find a shift at the various village festivals. I have also made a few pots of chili for Winterfest!

Why are you running for Village Trustee?

I have enjoyed being a part of the village government for the last 8 years and enjoy listening to and learning about the various ideas everyone has. The Village Board is stronger with different opinions being heard. The village is an exceptional place to live in largely because of how wonderful our neighbors are, the love they show for their homes, and the exceptional staff at the village including our police and fire departments. I cherish that we can raise our kids here and want to work hard to help maintain and improve it for years to come.

What are the top issues facing the village and how would you resolve them?

We are incredibly fortunate to live in Maple Bluff where everyone takes pride in the village they live in. I think the top issues include maintaining safety and security we are all accustomed to, maintaining the services we all enjoy as village residents, and ensuring all residents are heard. Appreciating what the village is now and being thoughtful in our decisions of what it will be 100 years from now. I am asking for your vote; I have enjoyed being a trustee and am excited to volunteer my time for the next 2-year term. I think we should focus on what is best for the longevity of the village, not engaging on what the mainstream trends are, and concentrate on maintaining top notch village staff, which is extremely important. Thank them when you can! Paying close attention to any and all proposed changes is also a high priority. I welcome all feedback and thoughts from all residents and welcome your call, text, or email.

What is your view about how local government should operate?

Local government should serve all the residents, they should have a pulse on the village and the direction it is going. Local government should help protect what is important and special about the community they serve. A trustee should know how to listen and represent the residents well by voting on issues to help shape what the majority of the

village wants which includes some difficult decisions that are never made lightly. Government should base decisions on what is best for now and 100 years from now. Thank you for your vote and I look forward to hearing from you!

Paula Cooper Hughes


I grew up in Upstate New York, ran away to California for school (and stayed), then something I couldn’t have predicted happened: I landed in Wisconsin with a husband and baby in 2002. It started with a weekend visit to my sister, and from the moment I stepped foot in the village it felt like home. So, when Craig and I found out we were having our daughter Eliot (we were living in the Oakland Hills by then), I followed my heart straight back to my sister and Maple Bluff with Craig at my side.

Next came the years of making friends in the trenches: from Camp Ya Gotta Wanna, A&A, and the Muskies to watching out for each other’s free-ranging new drivers and—suddenly—the shock of empty nesting. Our band of parents has managed to survive political upheaval, a turbulent divide in school choice, and, not least, the treachery of the ruined green lounge chairs at the (old) MB pool. I credit years of shivering at the sidelines of spring soccer, sweating through hours of Nakoma trophy meets, and our own free-ranging shenanigans at the BP with holding us together.

Also, this place. It has a way of taking care of us while we take care of each other.

Professional life: I put my very useful film degree to work on a brief production career followed by a long stretch in advertising at TBWA/Chiat/Day before accidentally falling into publishing in New York. Editing books became an unexpected dream education. My authors span the works. From Zbigniew Brzezinski and Leif Enger to Ada Calhoun and Sarah M. Broom, I learned how to build lasting relationships with my publishers, navigate the intricacies of each new manuscript, and, most importantly, to hear my authors’ voices and help bring their visions to fruition.

Civic life: My focus has shifted over the years from traditional GOTV efforts and swim team volunteering to more private advocacy. We all encounter unmet needs from time to time. But there aren’t always established boards or groups to turn to when we do. Sometimes we’re the only voice until someone joins us. To that end, I’m proudest of having helped to bring scalp cooling to the UW Carbone Cancer Center, so patients with compatible chemo regimens who choose to can maintain their hair—and privacy—while undergoing treatment. The therapeutic ripple effect of maintaining privacy and the sense of well-being it affords friends and family is tremendous, and I’m so happy this choice is available to people.

Why am I running for Village Board Trustee?

The simple answer is that I’ve enjoyed every benefit this village has to offer and I care. I’m up.

The complicated answer is that after attending village board meetings this past year, I became curious about MBPD’s high-speed pursuit policy. I then combed through our policy guidelines online. And, finally, to better understand high-speed pursuit from an officer’s perspective, I made an open-records request for dashcam footage of the high-speed chase that occurred in Maple Bluff in November 2022 and ended in a fatality after a crash on Woodland Circle.

The video showed an MBPD cruiser run five stop signs on Kensington Drive at high speed, race to the crest of the MBCC hill past the DO NOT ENTER signs, then speed the wrong way down the entrance to the club—never once slowing down. (The pursued car first became visible on video when the cruiser neared Lakewood Boulevard at the beach park. The pursuit was triggered by an erratic traffic move on Sherman Avenue, after which the car turned into the village.)

The footage is chilling. We lived on Kensington until Eliot was five. I’ve been either a club member or Muskie/lifeguard mom my whole life here. I know where kids goof around near the pool entrance and members walk to the gym looking down at their phones. The driver of the cruiser that day couldn’t possibly have seen over that hill—much less a toddler over that hill.

Maple Bluff is a small village with minimal crime. But the danger our high-speed pursuit policy poses to the community is potentially devastating. Despite the November 2022 fatality, our discretionary chases continue and have resulted in further accidents and injuries to bystanders.

I’m running because I believe we’re obligated to take a clear-eyed, data-driven look at our pursuit guidelines to ensure they both enhance our safety and reasonably reflect our community’s needs.

Also, governance is fascinating and works best with a variety of voices and perspectives. I’m eager to collaborate with people whose strengths complement one another to help serve the needs of the village.

What are the top issues facing the Village and how would you resolve them?

Two pressing issues—as expressed by staffing consultants the village recently engaged—are outdated technology and understaffing. The consultants’ suggestions included contracting with critical resource providers like IT vendors to modernize and secure our systems; hiring an administrative assistant; and leveraging the strengths of current staff. I support consensus solutions for managing complex IT issues, rebalancing workloads, and restoring work-life balance to administrators, so village staff can provide high-quality services with meaningful support. Village administration could also follow the lead of our fire department and the state (with Madison College and UW respectively) and explore building sustainable internships to boost communications and social media outreach—and engage a fresh generation of voices.

How do I think local government should operate?

Consistently, fiscally responsibly, ethically:

Support competitive salaries and benefits for police, fire, and administrative staff to maximize retention.
Introduce best municipal practices training to strengthen consistent, fiscally responsible governance as the board evolves.
Initiate diversity, equity, and inclusion training, set transparent accountability guidelines, and support community policing efforts.

Now you’re up! Please vote.

Lillian Bickers


Hello, I am Lilly Bickers, and I am running for Village Board Trustee. I have been a resident of the Village of Maple Bluff since 1990. I earned a BA from The University of Wisconsin and had a successful Project Management career in Chicago and New York City before returning to the village in 2003. Living in Maple Bluff has been a unique and wonderful experience for our family – Annabelle (14), Christopher (14), and Jack (17). We are fortunate to be surrounded by parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family, and many great neighborhood friends. I love living in the Village for many reasons, such as the beautiful setting, numerous amenities, and social opportunities. What I value the most is the welcoming nature of the neighborhood and the fact that we all want what is best for our community.

I have been an active member of the Greater Madison Community through volunteer work. I have served the boards of The Dane County Humane Society, Henry Vilas Zoological Society, Madison Children’s Museum, and my children’s school specializing in community engagement and capital campaign initiatives. My family is a Member of the Maple Bluff Country Club and TPC at Cherokee, and we enjoy golf, tennis, travel, and all the activities accessible in the Bluff. I returned to the workforce three years ago and joined Woodman’s Food Market as a Training and Development Specialist. I engage with all of our stores across Wisconsin and Illinois, working as a trainer to develop and implement programs and, most importantly, help maintain the company’s culture that values its associates, customers, and communities we serve.

Why am I running for Village Board Trustee?

I am running because I believe in active participation in the community in which you live. I can empathize with all sides and have the temperament to reach common ground. In my experience, I have had to make difficult decisions for the benefit of the whole. I have learned to listen and identify underlying issues through meaningful analysis. I know my strengths and rely on others’ expertise when necessary. Lastly, I have a positive approachable personality which will enable me to positively connect with my village neighbors.

What are the top issues facing the Village and how would you resolve them?

Supporting our village’s critical services is a top priority to ensure all residents feel safe and secure. We should work to maintain and supply the Police, Fire, and supporting departments with the most up-to-date equipment, technology, and training. We have been victims of crime twice (none of us are immune), so I know how it feels to be vulnerable and I also know how grateful we were for the swift and professional response we received from our Village Police. I support the continued growth of our Village Community events and programs so that there is always something to do at any age. Lastly, we should be able to be creative in our approach to budgeting and fundraising so we can ensure we have exhausted all options before any additional burden is put on our residents. We are better together, and I believe we can keep the Village of Maple Bluff the place we can have pride in today and ensure its success for many years to come. Thank you in advance for your consideration, and I look forward to serving if given the opportunity.

How do I think local government should operate?

First, remember that local government participants are volunteers putting in their time, experience, and understanding to represent their community when others are unwilling or afraid to do so. Local government should be chaired by those who understand issues and their impact on the community they serve. When difficult decisions need to be made for the betterment of our community today, we should also be aware of how the decisions will affect those of the future. A steady, common-sense voice transcending trends is essential for an effective village board.

Mike B Wittenwyler (Incumbent)


I have been a Maple Bluff resident since 2014, currently residing at 23 Paget Road in Fuller’s Woods with my spouse Jessica Marquez and our dogs Oscar and Olivia. Our four children are all out of the house, attending college and starting their careers.

Since 1998, I have been an administrative and regulatory attorney at Godfrey & Kahn, S.C. I am a shareholder, lead the firm’s Political Law practice group and help manage the law firm as a member of its board of directors.

Over the years, I have been active in a variety of community and civic organizations, volunteered for a number of causes and sat on many boards of directors.

Why are you running for Village Trustee?

I was taught very early about the importance of giving back and community involvement. That an involved and engaged citizenry is essential to a strong community. To that end, public service as a Village Trustee is a personal commitment to better our community and preserve the great municipal services and life we have in Maple Bluff.

I was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2022. In my first term, I have greatly enjoyed learning more about the Village’s operations and the issues facing our community. I have chaired the Ordinance Committee and Police Committee. I also have been a member of the Country Club Joint Committee and Parks and Recreation Committee. I am also a member of the Zoning Ordinance Update Committee.

During the last two years, the Board of Trustees and its committees have been quite active. It seems that there is never a shortage of items to address or new issues coming before each respective committee. By running for re-election, I can continue to work on these issues, addressing the challenges and opportunities that are before all of us as neighbors.

What are the top issues facing the village and how would you resolve them?

We need to protect, preserve, and enhance our unique and special community. Like many communities across Wisconsin, we face challenges in maintaining our high standards for Village operations, budgeting, and capital expenditures. We must meet those challenges while controlling taxes and continuing to provide excellent public services and safety. We also need to preserve the environment as the natural elements are what attracted many of us to live in the Village.

To address these issues, we need to have a vision for the future, shape our plans around our existing assets and avoid just accepting what comes along. We need to implement policies and make decisions that will allow our excellent quality of life and municipal services to continue for the next generation.

At the moment, the top issues facing the Village include:

Public Safety – We need to continue to fully support the Village police department and our police chief by providing them with the tools and policies that they need to effectively do their jobs. Ensuring public safety and security of any community is one of the primary responsibilities of local government.
Responsible Budgeting – Municipal governments across Wisconsin are doing more with less, making and facing difficult budgetary decisions. In the coming months and years, we will need to decide what Village services we value the most as well as the appropriate size and structure of our Village staff. As much as we would like to say “yes” to everything, our funding and revenues are not unlimited.
Vibrant and Attractive Sherman Avenue Corridor – We are fortunate that our small commercial district is growing and attracting interest from a variety of merchants. We need to continue to invest in the Village’s “Main Street,” providing economic incentives and using financial tools that catalyze continued growth and development in this area.
Preserving Single-Family Housing Zoning – While the City of Madison recently modified its zoning ordinances to move away from strictly single-family housing neighborhoods, there is little interest to do so in the Village of Maple Bluff. Accordingly, we need to work to maintain the predominately single-family housing nature of our community.

What is your view about how local government should operate?

Frequently, it is local government that has the greatest impact on our daily lives. Accordingly, open and timely communication with all Village residents must always occur so that Trustees and staff can listen and gather resident input. Questions must be responded to on a timely basis and concerns addressed as they arise. Even in times of disagreement, Trustees and Village residents need to continue communicating, working to find solutions, and fine-tuning our always evolving public policies. And, at all times, Village records and meetings need to be easy to access, properly noticed, and readily available.

Greg Engle


I have lived in the Bluff for thirteen years and am excited about the opportunity to bring my professional experience to serve the village as a trustee. I have worked in public safety for the state government for nearly 22 years, first as the state’s homeland security program director and later with the division of emergency management as the director of planning and preparedness, before being appointed by the governor to lead the division in 2022.

I oversee an agency, with 82 full-time staff a lean $6 million operating budget, responsible for working with police, fire, and local government officials every day to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. I understand how to develop and implement strategies in government and work with stakeholders to get things done in a resource-constrained environment.

My education is in the social sciences, and I have always believed strongly in the power of data and evidence to drive sound decision-making. I received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in anthropology, studying urban planning and politics. I found my path into public service when, during a stint after 9/11 as a research analyst for the state in 2002, I saw an opportunity to make a difference.

I am also an adjunct professor in the Department of Public and Environmental Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and have served on a number of boards and advisory committees, including the Governor’s Homeland Security Council and the board of directors for 211 Wisconsin. Here in the Bluff, I have enjoyed my volunteer experiences as a youth basketball coach and with the Scout troop, leading wilderness trips, helping with service projects, and delivering wreaths throughout the village. I also enjoy helping in the outdoors with habitat restoration projects, and I believe we all have a responsibility to contribute, even in small ways, to improving and maintaining our community’s quality of life. You might see me occasionally with a bag picking up trash as I walk my dog in the village and surrounding areas.

Why are you running for Village Trustee?

When my wife, Melissa, and I moved here in 2010, we saw Maple Bluff as an ideal place to raise our kids, Lauren and Owen. Now that they are off to college, we have more space in our house and I have more time to give back to the place that has been such a great home for my family.

I believe that my extensive and hands-on experience is well-suited to addressing some of the current challenges facing the village, and I want to contribute to making Maple Bluff both a safe and welcoming community for residents and visitors alike.

What are the top issues facing the village and how would you resolve them?

The top issue facing the village is the need to develop a public safety and policing strategy that is evidence-based and reflects our values. Maple Bluff is an incredibly safe community and there is no evidence that it is getting less safe. Traffic safety is a continued concern, and the board should continue to research and implement effective traffic control measures. However, our current vehicle pursuit policy is out-of-step with US Department of Justice guidance as well as the vast majority of our neighboring police departments, and it creates public safety risks to officers, drivers, and pedestrians. We need to provide police officers with the tools and resources they need, but the board also must perform its oversight role, take the community’s input, and ensure a balanced approach.

Second, we need more engagement with our neighboring communities. Madison’s north and east side neighborhoods are important partners, and as those neighborhoods continue to grow and evolve, we need to recognize that our fortunes are tied together and work together to solve problems.

Lastly, the village recently completed an analysis that highlights challenges with staffing and workload within the village administration. We have very talented and dedicated village staff who work hard to provide the services that we all rely on, but they are stretched. There are several good recommendations in the report to help ease the workload while streamlining government services, and the board should consider these as part of a larger strategy implemented with public input.

What is your view about how local government should operate?

Local government needs to be transparent and responsive, but above all reflect the values of the community members that it serves and represents. The village board should make it a priority to keep residents informed and ensure there are plenty of opportunities to provide public input before making key decisions. This includes not just meeting the statutory requirements for open meetings, but also providing information to residents ahead of time so they can come to meetings well informed. It also means leveraging a variety of methods to get the word out.

Trustees need to listen and welcome input from a variety of perspectives, and sometimes this may come in the form of disagreement. I am a big believer in the power of healthy, respectful conflict as a tool for learning and improvement. Even as a small, tight-knit village we are not always going to find consensus on important issues, but through open communication and respectful dialogue we can find a balance that preserves our quality of life while continuing to be a vibrant and welcoming community.

Municipal Judge Candidate

Walter R Stewart

My name is Walter Stewart and I am a candidate for Village of Maple Bluff Municipal Judge. I have degrees from Beloit College and the University of Wisconsin School of Law. I have practiced law in the community for over 40 years. My practice emphasizes business, real estate, and estate planning law. I am also a former prosecuting attorney for another municipality.

My wife, Pam, and I moved to the Village in 1990. I served for 24 years on the Parks and Recreation and Board of Harbor Commissioners. Most recently, I served as an alternate member of the Village Zoning Board of Appeals from 2021-2023. My community involvement includes Board service on Housing Initiatives, Inc., a nonprofit organization providing housing for people who are poor, homeless, and mentally ill. I served on the Board of the Northside Planning Council creating jobs and economic opportunities. I also served on the Board of the North East Senior Coalition (NESCO), now known as NewBridge Madison, Inc., providing programs and services for older and disabled persons, and the 2008 Olbrich Garden Tour.

In our greater community, I served on the Board for Harambee Dental Clinic, the Development Committee for St. Mary’s Hospital, and the UW-Whitewater Committee on Human Subject Research. I also served on the Board of Directors for Phantom Lake YMCA Camp, two terms as Board Chair.

The next Municipal Judge must continue the practice of dignity and respect. Many people come to municipal court with no previous legal experiences, a lack of understanding about the process, and apprehension of what might happen to them. We respect dignity by allowing each person the time to tell their story. The Court must then clearly apply the consistent and firm enforcement of our laws if we want to continue future respect for the Village’s ordinances.

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