Tuesday’s election results shift Green Bay City Council to the left

With the election of 4 new alders, council will get more progressive, younger

Green Bay City Hall
Green Bay city hall is seen in this file photo. Photo courtesy of the city of Green Bay

The Green Bay City Council will get a little more progressive and a little younger after voters elected four new alders on Tuesday.

Two of the candidates who won, Joey Prestley and Alyssa Proffitt, are under 30. They, along with Ben Delie and Kathy Hinkfuss, will be sworn in at the April 16 council meeting.

Each of those candidates received campaign contributions from the liberal groups. Finance reports from the city show Prestley, Delie and Hinkfuss received contributions from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, while Proffitt received a donation from the campaign fund of state Rep. Kristina Shelton, D-Green Bay.

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In a social media post Tuesday night, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin said those wins create a progressive majority on the council, framing it as a rebuke of former President Donald Trump, who held a campaign rally in the city on election day.

“Green Bay has been ground zero for Trump’s conspiracy theories about the 2020 election,” the party said. “With this flip tonight, we’ve beat back these lies and paved the way for a smooth, fair, and secure election in November.”

The city had been a target of Michael Gableman’s investigation into the 2020 election, and Mayor Eric Genrich, who previously served as a Democrat in the state Assembly, has sometimes clashed with the council in recent years. Before Genrich was reelected last April, nine of the city’s 12 council members endorsed his opponent.

Genrich couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday, but took to social media Wednesday to congratulate the new alders on their victories. He specifically named Prestley, who defeated incumbent Alder Steven Campbell.

“We won’t have to worry about him playing a recording of the Jan. 6 Choir during our invocation,” Genrich wrote of Prestley, referencing Campbell’s playing the recording during a March 2023 council meeting. The recording features a group of defendants jailed over their alleged roles in the January 2021 insurrection.

New alders say work will be nonpartisan

In interviews with WPR Thursday, Proffitt and Prestley described themselves as progressives, while Hinkfuss said she’s a long-time Democrat. All three said the vast majority of issues that get addressed by the city council are nonpartisan.

“Most of what the city council does doesn’t neatly map onto a partisan spectrum,” Prestley said. “If it’s roads and funding municipal services, I will probably agree with my fellow council members more often than not.”

Likewise, Proffitt said she will approach her work on the council with a nonpartisan lens because she wants to “listen to every voice of everyone’s various backgrounds.”

Hinkfuss said she plans to focus on things like roads and economic development, rather than partisan politics.

“I’m socially progressive, but I’m fiscally a hawk,” she said. “What’s really critical to keeping a city running is you can’t look at the issues from a partisan perspective.”

All three alder-elects said housing will be one of their focuses when they join the council.

Bringing youth to council

Both Proffitt and Prestley will be among the youngest elected officials in Green Bay. Proffitt is 27-years-old, while Prestley is 28. They each said their age will help bring a different perspective to the city council.

“I think what I’ve maybe tapped into as a younger candidate is sort of understanding where a lot of my district is in this stage of their life,” Prestley said. “I live in one of many apartment complexes that make up sort of the northeastern part of the district, and a lot of people there are young people who are recent college graduates.”

Proffitt said she has a unique perspective as a mother to two young children and as someone who is a first-time home owner. She said she also has experience leading a neighborhood association.

“I don’t have as many years of homeownership under my belt as some, and I’m not as deeply planted with 60 years living in this community,” she said. “It doesn’t mean my passion is any different. My passion is really deep for the city and my neighborhood.”