OZAUKEE COUNTY — The Ozaukee County Board approved a resolution protecting the constitutional rights of Ozaukee County citizens on a vote of 16 to 9 Tuesday.
The resolution was sponsored by Supervisors David Irish and Joshua Haas and was presented to reaffirm the oath of office made by each County Board supervisor when the 2020-21 County Board term commenced, according to information provided to the board. The resolution bars any action by county employees, agents or elected officials that knowingly violates the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the state of Wisconsin.
A large group of people attended the meeting Tuesday morning.
Shelly Skovik supported the resolution and said the Constitution has been assaulted this past year, which other residents said as well during public comment.
“When you vote yes today, what you are saying to me and to we the people, who are the authority, (is) ‘I hear you, I see you,’” she said.
A number of people spoke of their support of the resolution, including Mark Gierl, alderman on the Mequon Common Council.
“If you don’t vote for this, your words mean nothing.”
However, there were some from the public who asked the County Board to turn down the resolution, like Audrea Sedlacek.
“Ozaukee County supervisors, you have already sworn your oath to uphold the Constitution when you took office, so I’m not sure why you feel it necessary to do it again, especially in this situation,” she said.
Brittany Vulich said the original resolution was intended and written with Second Amendment-specific information and that the current resolution is a smokescreen for that.
At the beginning of the meeting, Chairman Lee Schlenvogt stated that this resolution has nothing to do with making Ozaukee County a sanctuary county for guns, which some citizens were concerned about.
“This is strictly just a resolution protecting the constitutional rights of Ozaukee County citizens,” he said.
Supervisor Irish said the resolution is non-controversial and nonpolitical. He stated that the resolution says nothing about the county becoming a Second Amendment sanctuary.
“There’s been a lot of noise in what this resolution is and isn’t,” he said. “So let’s focus on the resolution before us. This is a constitutional rights resolution, not a constitutional right resolution.”
However, Supervisors Alice Read and Janette Braverman expressed concern of an underlying motive behind the resolution.
“Clearly this resolution today is not just a feel-good resolution about stating our support for the Constitution, but it’s a Trojan Horse for support for the group that is supporting the Second Amendment and the sanctuary movement,” Read said.
She added that she “believes the Constitution is under attack by people who believe that they have an individual decision about whether or not they support a law that was passed by our federal government and interpreted it to be constitutional by the courts.”
Supervisor Braverman said the underlying history and context in which the resolution was brought to the Executive Committee and County Board deeply concerned her. She also stated that the resolution was being pushed by those who mostly support views of the Republican party.
“If this resolution passes, my fear is that the Republican party will continue to drive the agenda of the County Board, especially given how easy it was for this one to be brought to the table,” she said. “We are supposed to be a non-partisan board, offering balanced views and making balanced decisions for all of our constituents. The boardroom is not balanced today. It is really one-sided, all around me.”
Supervisor Natalia Minkel-Dumit made a motion to bring the resolution back to the Executive Committee for further discussion, but that motion failed on a vote of 5 to 20. Supervisor Bruce Ross made a motion to postpone the resolution indefinitely and rise to state their oath of office once again, but that motion failed on a vote of 9 to 16.
Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, made a statement in support of the resolution.
“I support the Ozaukee County Board’s decision to pass a resolution today declaring the county’s intent to respect the Constitutionally-protected rights of our citizens,” Stroebel said. “The past year and a half have been a tumultuous time. A pandemic was often used as an excuse to violate the clear limits of state law, a hotly contested election highlighted large divides in our communities, and the rule of law in some areas fell entirely by the wayside as lawlessness and rioting took over. In times like this it is good to be reminded of the timeless nature and enduring power of our Constitutionally-protected liberties.”
State Rep. Deb Andraca, D-Whitefish Bay, posted a statement regarding the resolution on Facebook.
“Although it was not the Second Amendment sanctuary resolution many supporters were hoping for, its intent was clear from those who spoke in support of the measure, and everyone knew what it was signaling,” she said.
Andraca added, “I believe that all board members who give up hours of their time to serve on the county board reaffirm their commitment to our community, the Constitution and their oath of office every day, and I thank them for their public service. I hope the board can return to nonpartisan county business from this point forward, and I look forward to working with them to do so.”