The long-used "town system" of government.

By Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Feb. 2, 2007, 9:38 a.m.)

The long-used "town system" of government gave certain elected members of municipal boards a seat on the county board. That system was in place through most of Wisconsin's history except for a span from 1861 to 1869, when laws deemed that boards could only have one supervisor for each Assembly District within the county.

Under the "town system," board sizes fluctuated as the number towns, villages and city wards changed. For example, in early history, if a town incorporated, one or more of its representatives got a seat on the county board.

The "town system" changed after a 1965 court decision declared that supervisors should be voted on in district-wide elections based on an area's population.

Here's how the Walworth County Board changed over the years

Walworth County
Year Number of supervisors
1839 3
1842 9
1842 12
1844 16
1861 5
1869 * 20
1915 32
1920 33
1925 34
1950 35
1952 37
1966 33
1972 35
2002 25

(*Exact numbers were not immediately available between 1869 and 1915.)

Both large and small boards can be effective, experts say

Who represents us? A look at county board demographics

Historical roots of Government.

The basics.

Links to documents used to research this story.

 

 

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