Will Waukesha get a new mayor or will voters decide to remain with the status quo?
That’s the decision Waukesha voters will make on Tuesday during the mayoral election. Mayor Jeff Scrima, who took second in the February primary election, faces a challenger in Shawn Reilly, a municipal attorney who has also served as president of the Waukesha Business Improvement District about a year before it dissolved.
The two candidates agree that Waukesha’s future water supply and minimizing tax burdens on Waukesha families are the most important issues facing the city. Both are in support of receiving Lake Michigan water from Oak Creek. Scrima wants to keep taxes increases to or below the rate of inflation, while Reilly says that’s not enough and that the city needs to increase its tax base while cutting costs.
However, Reilly says he wants to bring leadership to the city while Scrima says the city is stronger despite his frequent clashes with the Common Council and some city employees.
Reilly has drawn support of nine Common Council members: Terry Thieme (who took third in the primary election), Joe Pieper, Eric Payne, Joan Francouer, Steve Johnson, Christopher Hernandez, Cory Payne, Aaron Perry, and Peter Bartels.
“They have gotten to know me, they know I will be a good mayor,” Reilly said. “It also means they don’t have faith in another four years of Mayor Scrima.”
Meanwhile, Scrima says he shook things up in City Hall, which lead to “proven, positive results.” Citing the city’s agreement to purchase Oak Creek water, 700 jobs in the city, increased investments in road projects and various awards received by city departments, Scrima says he wants to continue toward his goal as becoming the No. 1 best small city in America.
But along the way, Scrima has been in the center of controversy, including losing his supervisory authority over then-City Administrator Lori Luther to the Common Council, not being allowed to serve on the city’s water negotiation team after critical comments against Milwaukee water and the city’s application to receive Lake Michigan water, and, more recently, refusing to accept an invitation to be present at an event with President Barack Obama in Waukesha.
Scrima says his leadership style is part of the checks-and-balances of local government.
“Sometimes these things are not always comfortable, and they evoke mixed feelings,” Scrima said. “But they are necessary to move forward and come to better results.”
Reilly, however, says one of his main priorities is to create an open environment where he collaborates with the Common Council, city employees, and other government agencies and organizations to have everyone work together.
“I am looking forward to having Waukesha become a regional leader in the county and in southeastern Wisconsin,” Reilly said. “Waukesha has a lot going for it.”
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