I think it's safe to say that the era of the "Cobblestoner" in Oshkosh is over. I can't remember who exactly coined that term for those on the Common Council and the School Board that were opposed to increased spending every year. I know one of their opponents commented they would be happy if "we still had cobblestone streets"--and the term was born. And the "Cobblestoners" wore that name with pride.
But within just the 17-years that I have lived and worked in Oshkosh, the city has undergone a political transformation. Like many urban areas in Wisconsin--and around the country--liberals are concentrating themselves within the city limits. And they are electing local government representatives that are willing to tax more and spend more. They have even voted directly to increase their taxes, approving school referenda for new buildings and recurring expenses--after a long losing streak at the polls.
Last night's election was the coup de grace for the "Cobblestone coalition" as a Mayor and a slate of Common Council candidates that had approved higher taxes and more restrictions on businesses in the city were not only winners--but easy winners--in races that garnered plenty of media exposure the past few months. Plus, you didn't even have challengers to the School Board candidates that were seeking re-election. And this comes after a Republican didn't even run against State Representative Gordon Hintz in the 54th Assembly district race last fall.
Now we shouldn't throw dirt on Conservatism in Oshkosh and declared it dead forever just yet. All things in politics are cyclical. Today's "I want to live in an apartment by the river and use bike lanes and raise bees and chickens within the city" generation will eventually be replaced by the "I want my own house with my own space and neighbors that don't think they live on Green Acres and my taxes are too damn high" generation that will wonder why the City is spending so much on stuff they don't use or need.
Or they will join the millions of others who have left the cities to find more freedom and less expense in the suburbs and rural areas of the state--leaving behind a greater concentration of urban dwellers with demand for services--and less ability to pay for them. While the streets of Oshkosh may not be paved with gold--they certainly won't have cobblestones for awhile either.