Be Prepared, Not Suprised

Julaine Appling

2021 | Week of February 8 | Radio Transcript #1398

You, yes, you, have an opportunity to be a difference-maker next Tuesday! Are you prepared to do that? Are you ready to vote knowledgeably, responsibly and prayerfully?

Next Tuesday, February 16, Wisconsin has its spring non-partisan primary election. This election narrows the field of candidates to two per race in preparation for the general election in April.  No candidates in any race are running based on their political party affiliation, hence the “non-partisan” reference.

Every voter in Wisconsin will have at least one primary race on their ballot and that is for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. This is the only statewide race with a primary. This constitutional office oversees the administration of the Department of Public Instruction. It is a four-year term.  Currently the position is held by Carolyn Stanford Taylor, who has been in the office since 2018 when Governor Evers appointed her to replace him at DPI after he was elected governor. She chose not to run for the office this spring.

However, seven candidates for this office are on the statewide primary ballot. The two candidates with the most votes next Tuesday will move on to the Spring Non-partisan General Election on Tuesday, April 6.  The candidates are—and these are in the order they appear on the ballot—Jill Underly, Deborah Kerr, Steve Krull, Shandowlyon Hendricks-Williams, Troy Gunderson, Joe Fenrick, and Sheila Briggs.

For a number of years, many people have complained about and been concerned about the state’s model academic standards and building state standardized tests around these standards. Who establishes model academic standards for Wisconsin and oversees the development of standardized testing based on those standards? The State Superintendent of Public Instruction, that’s who.

Who is responsible for administering the school voucher program and other school choice programs we have in Wisconsin? That would be the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The person holding that position, for instance, has rule-making authority to either make it harder or easier for schools enrolling voucher students.

Who tracks home schooling in Wisconsin? Who collects data on students and oversees its use at the state level? The State Superintendent as the leader of the Department of Public Instruction does all of this.

Who issues model policies for all Wisconsin school districts related to bullying, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender confusion and more? That, too, comes from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Are you getting the sense that this office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction is important?  I hope so. It’s incredibly important. It’s certainly worthy of your learning about the candidates and making sure you get to the polls and vote. We have some basic educational information about all the candidates, including links to their websites, available on our website at

Now, while State Superintendent of Public Instruction is the only statewide race with a primary, your own ballot may have other races on it. You need to know that before you go vote—whether you are voting early in person or by absentee ballot or going to the polls next Tuesday. I urge you to visit, that’s  On the home page just click on “What’s On My Ballot?” and follow the instructions to see exactly what is on your ballot. You just might be surprised. You might have a school board primary or a village or town board primary or a mayoral primary or some other local office with a primary. Don’t be surprised…be prepared. And remember that no level of government has more impact on your life than local government—and you can have more impact on local government than on any other level of government.

I have one more thing for you to do. Talk to friends, family members, fellow church goers and others about what you’ve heard today. Urge them to make sure they vote on Tuesday, February 16.  Share what you know about the candidates. Send emails. Make phone calls.  Use social media.

This type of election typically has very low voter turnout. Some are saying it might be as low as just 5% of registered voters. That means your one vote has the weight of 20 votes. Your vote never counts more than in elections where few votes are cast—elections just like the one coming up. Be a difference maker…a smart, informed, prepared, not-surprised difference-maker in this spring nonpartisan primary election.

For Wisconsin Family Council, this is Julaine Appling reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

Julaine Appling has taught on the junior high, high school, and college levels, and for five years was the administrator of a private school. In 1998 she was asked to become the Executive Director of Wisconsin Family Council, where her mission is to advance Judeo-Christian principles and values in Wisconsin by strengthening, preserving, and promoting marriage, family, life and liberty. In addition to regularly being interviewed for Wisconsin television, radio, and newspapers, she is the host of "Wisconsin Family Connection," aired weekly on almost 50 radio stations in Wisconsin including the VCY America radio network.

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