The city of Franklin mayoral election in 2020 was about honesty and integrity. The incumbent, Steve Olson, was challenged by former Franklin alderman Basil Ryan who was recalled in 2003. He had briefly served from 2001.

During the campaign Ryan told people he wasn’t recalled. Ryan was lying.

Local well-known businessman Doug Milinovich posted this before the election on a Franklin Facebook page:

Basil Ryan For Mayor of Franklin WI will you please address this. You on numerous occasions have stated you were NOT recalled as an alderman. Most recently on March 10th 2020 at approximately 12:05 cst you stated you were not recalled to me with two other individuals in the home. Yet a now supporter of yours Jay Sakwinski authored a letter that states this “I was one of the main people, along with Steve (Olson), involved in the recall that removed Basil Ryan as alderman.” So Basil is your supporter wrong so we have non factual information posted and still on this site or do you now admit you were recalled? This has been a long time bone of contention with many, this your opportunity to directly and simply answer a direct question. To me if you fail to answer the question I feel you are trying to hide something (my opinion).

Ryan didn’t immediately answer Milinovich’s easy inquiry.

The answer is and should have been an unequivocal ‘yes.’

Ryan Recall Cropped

Ryan was disgracefully, ceremoniously dumped in the recall, 58-42%.

Caught red-handed, Ryan told residents in an attempt to downplay or cover up the election that it was an illegitimate recall.

How strange. Pete Kosovich went out and got the necessary petition signatures. An election was scheduled and conducted. People went to the polls. They voted. The local paper covered it. Ryan was bounced.

Ryan’s supporters who I contend dislike Olson far more than they like Ryan went into twist and deflect and divert mode, trying to take attention off the ousted candidate and place it instead on the local group that worked on Ryan’s successful recall. The group was forced to disband by Milwaukee County Court action. The district attorney’s office in Milwaukee reportedly filed civil, not criminal, but civil charges accusing the group and then-Treasurer James Seymer, son of Citizens for Responsible Government founding member Orville Seymer of Franklin, of filing a false registration statement and failing to accurately record how much money it collected and spent.

In other words, clerical errors. But to Ryan and his followers that somehow exonerated Ryan. Recall? What recall?

Olson was part of the recall group, but left when he decided to run for alderman in his district.

There were other issues, like this little item.

Back in the spring a very biased Franklin forum opened on Facebook to conveniently correspond with the April election. The head moderator is a young, very politically naïve young man who just happened to have run against Olson when he was an alderman… and lost.

Another moderator is a former Franklin alderwomen, Susanne Mayer who was completely inept during her short tenure and left because she simply wasn’t up to the task.

Contributing frequently on the site is Franklin Alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm who thrives on a huge ego. Like others on the Facebook site if you suck up to her you’re in good graces. If not, you get chastised up and down. Wilhelm has never liked Olson and has attempted to thwart him at almost every opportunity.

On this biased anti-Steve Olson site a woman posted the following about Olson’s opponent:

“Do you know that Basil Ryan is out shopping for the seniors in Franklin and delivering it to them so that they don’t have to go out to shop?!!! He’s collecting supplies like toilet paper and disinfectants and picking up prescriptions and food for senior citizens. He truly cares about the people of Franklin. He’s been to my house a few times to pick up TP that I bought at the store I work at for the seniors and then delivers it to them.”

In and of itself, not a bad comment. The implication was explicitly clear. Ryan was a saint to the elderly. Practically walks on water.

Problem: The same comment verbatim had been posted at least twice before on the same Facebook site. The head moderator who gushes for Ryan, the other moderator Mayer who loves Ryan, and Alderwoman Wilhelm who also adores Ryan and comments all the time, never caught it (or just ignored it). It took one of the site’s readers to point it out to the blind sheep.

Not a big deal? I think it says something about the candidate’s followers that they resorted to this trickery just to get their tainted guy elected. Who knows how long the chicanery would have been allowed to remain on the site until it was eventually discovered.

The website says honesty and integrity are two of the most important qualities in a political candidate. Ryan failed. Couldn’t even bring himself around to admitting he was recalled.

I’ve known Steve Olson for 25 years. He’s not always made me happy. But he was a far more qualified choice than his flawed opponent.

Olson won…big time.


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