Voters in Waukesha's 11th Aldermanic District will head to the polls Feb. 19 to narrow down the field of candidates running for the Common Council.
Of the five candidates running, the top two voter-getters will advance to the April 2 general election.
To provide residents with the most information on where they stand on the issues facing the village, Waukesha Patch invited readers to submit questions that we posed to the candidates.
Here, in their own words, are the candidates' answers to those questions as well as some posed by Patch.Why are you running for alderman? James Cowee Having lived in Waukesha the last 11 years, I have been blessed with many professional, civic, and personal opportunities. It is out of this sense of “community” that I want to lend my time and efforts to the constituents of District 11. I find it incumbent, as a leader, to authentically listen to the concerns and the voice of the people. Being an Alderman is a highly relationship-based position, where mutual respect, trust, and integrity need to be at the core of all interactions. I have been well served embracing those tenants in the eight years that I worked as a representative for GE Capital and the four years that I have been at the Nice Ash Cigar Bar. I will continue to exercise that same mentality if humbly elected your Alderman.
Tyler Hoffman I want the city of Waukesha to go back to the way it used to be.
To be able to let my kids play outside. To be able to walk the streets after dark. To able to walk out to my car in the morning and find that no one has gone through it. To see a city free of trash at the curb on non garbage days. To be able to look at the side of a building and not see it full of graffiti. To see landlords held responsible for the upkeep of their properties. I want to see city codes enforced!
Leonard Miller Recent events in the Aldermanic District 11 in Waukesha have left some wondering who our representative is. Funds being transferred away from needed maintenance items and improvements, a crosswalk being removed, employees being intimidated and feeling their only recourse is to resign, just to name a few in recent months. It seems these items have come as a surprise to the current leadership in district 11.
As a life time resident of Waukesha I have watched our city, especially our downtown, grow and take many shapes. Sometimes these changes were beautiful and nostalgic but some were discouraging and left our residents feeling like we have taken a step backwards.
Most recently I, along with the rest of the city have watched BID (The downtown business improvement district) implode because of allegations of abuse of power. We need a representative who would take on the challenge of representing the whole City of Waukesha’s residents. We need a representative who would push for needed changes in the status quo. We need a representative who has a vision for our neighborhood. We need a representative who knows how to get things done. We need a representative who would gain the respect and support of fellow council member. I am that representative.
Over the years I have met with many of the department heads of the city. I know what is going on in our district. I am supported by current and former elected officials. I am supported by local business and educational professionals. I will listen to you. I can and will represent you. With your help, I want to make this neighborhood a place where people will want to live, work and invest in its future.
Roger Patton To complete what I have started in my three years as alderman. I want to see the BID functioning again for the benefit of the downtown. I want to see more developments like Kendal Lofts downtown. I want to see the Clarke Hotel successful. I want the sidewalks repaired to make them safer for all. I want to continue listening to the residents of the district and work through their problems as they relate to city government.
Kyle Villarreal I want a grocery store in downtown Waukesha. What is the biggest issue facing Waukesha, and how would you address it, if elected? James Cowee The biggest issue facing Waukesha is obtaining a Radium compliant source of water. This will cost all taxpayers of Waukesha, regardless of them owning property or renting. It is imperative on a couple of levels. First, Waukesha risks federal penalties if we are not compliant by June, 2018. Second, finding a sustainable source of water will allow Waukesha to meet growth needs. The request from the Great Lakes Compact is not without consequence. Our current request, if approved, would create precedence for other communities outside of the Great Lakes Basin to also request water. I am relieved that Waukesha is also looking at a plan B option if the Great Lakes application is rejected. On March 22, I will be attending the Fox River Summit. The symposium will include Eric Nitschke, Southeast Region Director of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, as well as Dr. Jerome Delli Priscoli of the US Army Corps of Engineers, (keynote speaker) whose worldwide experience with trans-boundary river basin organizations is highly respected in his field.
This will continue to be a hot-button issue, and one that affects all of us. I do not purport to be an expert on this issue, but will promise my constituents that I will be well read on the issue and will do anything in my power to meet with anyone that is an expert in water resource management. Tyler Hoffman The growing crime issues are the biggest problem with the city, and my main purpose of running. I would like to see a police substation put up somewhere between downtown and the South end of Waukesha. I also would like to work with WCTC on a police cadet program focused on the downtown area. This will free up officers for the rest of the city
Leonard Miller Accountability, over the last few years there has been a trend to curtail anyone who tries to hold our city leaders accountable. Funds for needed repairs being transferred to other areas of the city that is not in as immediate need, and no one asking why. It is “Time to Make a Change” and hold our city leaders accountable.
Roger Patton Implementing the Graef plans for our downtown. I have not missed a planning commission meeting in the past three years and I will continue to attend the commission, seeking to influence our city's program. Kyle Villarreal Poverty. I would get together all the agencies that are dealing with poverty and get them coordinated. Get the food pantry better and stuff like that. I would also work with the state on programs like BadgerCare and HUD. Do you support the Waukesha West bypass route moving forward and why? James Cowee In December of last year, the Town of Waukesha Board voted down 4-1 on all three proposals connecting Highway 59 to Interstate 94, due in part of the outpouring of public dissent to the project. The bypass is estimated to cost $55 million, of which, Waukesha would be responsible for approximately $2 million. Granted, this has less of an effect on the people of District 11, than our neighbors to the West. Nonetheless, the motion to approve the plan is now with the City Common Council. I would like to hear from my constituents before I approve any cash outlays to this project. At this time, I would be against the Bypass only because of the financial ramifications and potential cost over-runs. Tyler Hoffman Yes I support it. Waukesha has needed this by-pass since it was first introduced in the 1950's. I just wish they would have done it back then. It would have had a negative effect on a lot less people.
Leonard Miller Yes, we need a safe and efficient way to get the the south end of Waukesha. This bypass has been slated for construction for over 50 years. In that time Waukesha has grown an extreme amount. We need this bypass.
Roger Patton Yes. Every city of size in America needs a bypass.
No. It cuts through too much wild land and farmland. Leave that stuff alone, we don’t need a west bypass.In light of the recent problems with the BID Board, what role does the Common Council have in restoring peace in downtown Waukesha?
James Cowee Restoring peace downtown extends further than the recent BID Board dissolving and the subsequent re-appointments by the Mayor. The center of the issue lays competing visions of the current BID and its role downtown. The extent that the Common Council has any role in restoring peace may unfortunately have passed with the current slate of BID board appointees. If the property owners obtain the 51 percent I would support their decision and the return of any BID funds to the property owners. As alderman for the district, I would work with all downtown constituents to foster a better environment downtown. Communications have been lacking between opposing parties downtown and as a leader for the district I will do what I can to facilitate a more open and cooperative atmosphere. Tyler Hoffman Getting the downtown property owners, and business owners on the same page. Communication between these parties is needed. If elected I would set up by-monthly meetings. The district 11 Alderman should be the one to bring these parties together, and then bring everything up to the council. After the BID debacle the downtown is left with a huge black eye and the only way to fix this is with communication.
Leonard Miller Selecting the right persons for the BID Board would be the the number one issue.
Roger Patton The Council needs to support our new administrator's work and expertise on how the BID board should be organized. The new BID board is writing new by-laws and a 2013 plan which the Council needs to approve.
Kyle Villarreal I think the BID should just be shut down. They have never cooperated with each other before. I don’t think the BID has a whole lot to do with Waukesha. What is your position on the city's quest for Great Lakes water and to what level have you researched the issue?
James Cowee Please see my answer above regarding the biggest issue facing Waukesha.
Tyler Hoffman I have done some research on this issue. I think the city is finally on the right path. I still think there may be a few ways to cut the cost down. I for one am not looking forward to the huge increase in my water bill. However we are out of both options and time. There really was no easy long term fix to this problem.
Leonard Miller I have researched and kept up with the progress over the years. Mr. Duchniak is a well respected professional in his field and has many years experience. Added to this we are under court order from the EPA to solve the issue of radium in our water supply. Great Lakes water is the best solution without leaving the surrounding communities served by individual wells without a viable source of water.
Roger Patton I have attended many water commission meetings and encourage the Oak Creek plan. I conducted an information evening in my 11th district last year regarding the water from Lake Michigan program. I have read the materials on the water quest and have attended carefully to the research presented to the Council.
Kyle Villarreal I am not wild about getting water from Great Lakes. I am not sure where I stand on that whole position yet. I would like to see some studies and get a whole lot more information before I take a stand on that. I haven’t studied any of these things at all yet. With city budgets being extremely tight each year, what are your top budget priorities?
James Cowee My biggest budget priority will be to ensure that public safety is properly funded. Our Police force is highly professional and completes their job with limited resources. With the recent spate of robberies in the area, Waukesha needs to continue to confront those in our community that want to harm others or property. If elected your Alderman, I will make sure that I reach out to neighborhood watch groups and neighborhoods that are concerned about crime. Furthermore, I will make it a priority to complete Police ride-alongs on a regular basis, to get an unvarnished look of the challenges facing our District.
Another long term budget priority will be to address our aging infrastructure (roads and sidewalks). Historic Waukesha is just that, Historic. Uneven and cracked sidewalks pose a danger to those using them. The challenge faced is how to complete reconstruction with minimal business interruption. Tyler Hoffman First and foremost police and fire. Without these services the city will be doomed. This means we must kept up to date with the times and make sure our first responders have the tools they need to keep us all safe. Also we need to make sure our schools have the funding they need to keep our children educated. This all needs to be done within a budget that doesn't cripple our pocket books.
Leonard Miller Find alternative sources of funding with grants and scholarships. Also working to partnership with local corporations to help offset needed infrastructure improvement to help keep property taxes down.
Roger Patton New infrastructure -- streets, water mains, sewers, bike paths, crosswalks.
Kyle Villarreal Top budget priorities would be road maintenance, basically the city maintenance department, the transit system and lowering housing costs. I would also like to see some of the city parks opened up to dogs.