Voters in Waukesha's 1st Aldermanic District will head to the polls Feb. 19 to narrow down the field of candidates running for the Common Council.
The top two voter-getters will advance to the April 2 general election.
The candidates are incumbent Alderman Terry Thieme and challengers Mark Meyers and John Holst (Click on link for biographical information on each candidate).
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? John Holst Because of the foolish spending that causes our taxes to go up, up, up. They bulldozed the fire station on Stardust Drive...that was absolutely insane. That building was built in the '80s, so designed that if it was ever vacated, it would be sold and put back on the tax rolls. There was an offer of $300,000 on the building that Alderman Patton told Terry Thieme. He told Patton not to get involved in his district. They spent $25,000 on a head hunter for the police chief when there were many qualified officers within the department. They spent thousands of dollars for a study to see if the bike trails could be connected, when they already were connected. This foolish spending must stop. We are the highest taxed city in the county. Let's get a common sense alderman. GPSs in the city vehicles and the monthly fee to operated them is absolutely money thrown away. There are radios in every vehicle, GPSs are unnecessary. Foolish spending must stop or nobody will be ab le to afford to live in Waukesha with increasing taxes. Mark Meyers While helping with the senator and presidential campaigns, I became very interested in politics - especially local. I think it's time we took politicians out of politics and got down to the business of running our city, state and federal governments like people who live there! I am a very conservative person who deals with a family budget and can no longer sit on my couch and watch while money is being spent frivolously when it could be done so much better and more responsibly. Our founding fathers actually had day jobs and did this "government thing" on the side. They didn't have money & knew the value of it. It seems that lots of people in office don't remember what it's like to live paycheck to paycheck. It's always easier to spend someone else's money; we need to remember that that so-called someone else's money isn't just someone else's money. It's mine and yours and we need to treat it that way. As alderman, I promise to be conservative with our money and make wise decisions on where it goes!
Terry Thieme I started out my adult life serving my Country as a United States Marine with several meritorious promotions along with earning a good conduct medal. I continued by serving as a Police Officer in the Town of Beloit, City of Jefferson, and City of Waukesha. I've lived my whole life serving my Country and the communities that I have lived in. I want to continue that now by remaining an Alderman. During my first term, one of my major accomplishments was to close down a residential home that was used as a boarding house for illegal immigrants. I enjoy helping my fellow citizens and want to continue in that capacity. As a former city employee, I feel I have established myself and also developed the connections in order to get issues in my district taken care of in a swift and expedient manner. I take the time to listen to my constituents, evaluate situations, and take appropriate actions. I don't respond with knee jerk reactions but with thought out, calculated responses. You never react out of anger but with what is best for the situation at hand.
What is the biggest issue facing Waukesha and how would you address it, if elected? John Holst The water is one of the biggest . We have to get Plan B and C for our water supply in the event that all the governors don't sign the Lake Michigan water supply. The Common Council has chosen Lake Michigan water, and that is where we stand at the moment. Mark Meyers There are lots of issues that need attention but for me personally it is safety in our schools. Unfortunately, violence is becoming more wide spread and Waukesha isn't a "small town" anymore. There are many options to be weighed but I believe our children's education and safety are of utmost importance. In addition, fiscal responsibility in all aspects of government is a top priority. We need to get our spending under control.
Terry Thieme The most important issue currently facing our community is our water issue. We have to make sure that we provide our citizens with the longest term, the most sustainable source, and most economical source of water. The Great Lakes option fits each and everyone of these categories. We have to make sure that we stay the course and work diligently for a positive outcome. Citizens have to remember that we have to spend the money for an alternative source no matter what the source might eventually be. Doing nothing is not an option and we have to be timely in order to meet our 2018 imposed deadline.
Do you support the Waukesha Bypass plan moving forward and why? John Holst Yes, to a certain degree. We have to do something to alleviate the traffic problem that exists. In moving forward with the bypass, we have to keep in mind the safety of our children in the area. Mark Meyers Yes, progress is defined as moving forward so moving vehicles forward would be just that. Though I understand some fellow citizens disagree and would lose some things that are valuable to them, the city as a whole must continue to be progressive.
Terry Thieme I most certainly do. Getting from the south side of Waukesha to the north side in a quick and efficient manner is very important. It is important for convenience for our citizens that live on the south side to get to the north side and from the north to the south. It is important not just for commuting to work but for convenience for shopping in our community.
In light of the recent problems with the BID Board, what role does the Common Council have in restoring peace in downtown Waukesha? John Holst If the BID Board is going to stay in existance, now that we have an alderman on the board, the council should consider his recommendations and the BID Board's recommendations for moving the city in the right direction. Let's give the BID Board time to work out their problems. Mark Meyers The BID needs to be run as a business and comments handled appropriately. This board is not the place for gossip or elementary aged behavior and this type of behavior should not be tolerated. Just like you teach your children to go to the source if there's a problem, we need to practice what we preach and not act in a way unbecoming of leadership.
Terry Thieme Governance is not always the answer. I have been asked by several downtown residents what I thought about the divisiveness in the downtown. I really believe that the downtown business owners and residents need to sit down and come to some kind of compromise that everyone can live with. While I'm not objecting to being part of the solution, they should be able to sit down and work this out.
I think we have a very credible person in our City Administrator, facilitating these meeting now. After things stabilize, I'm not sure that I would want the City Administrator to continue in this role however.
What is your position on the city's quest for Great Lakes water and to what level have you researched the issue? John Holst The council has chosen the Great Lakes water supply. I must go along with this decision since this was already decided by the council. But if all the governors don't sign this, we must have Plan B and C in place. I have been to all of the water meetings. More meetings than most of the aldermen. Mark Meyers Water is the source of life and obviously an issue and Waukesha's geological makeup compounds our water problem. I believe the Great Lakes is the answer at this time however due to the cost increase we need also to find water conservation activities that are right for Waukesha. Further research is continuing and important as residents need to be able to weigh all options. Additionally, we should look to states such as California to learn how they have dealt with water and conservation problems.
Terry Thieme Being on the Water Utility Commission, I have been very involved in this. I have assisted in my districts meetings to help educate the public on this issue. I have provided handouts to my constituents when asked and have been very consistent with my opinions. For further comment, please refer to my earlier comments about the most important thing facing our city.
With city budgets being extremely tight each year, what are your top budget priorities? John Holst I think the city administrator, with the aid of the council president, could go over every department and find many areas of foolish spending. For example: Getting rid of the printing shop is going to cost the city man, many dollars when they go to outside printing. Hiring head hunters to fill positions is money we could be saving. We need a "common sense" candidate, and that is me! Mark Meyers Fiscal responsibility in all government spending. New revenue streams (ie the out lots at the new Woodmans). Current Waukesha businesses finding new ways to increase revenue
Specifically, Woodmans is going to increase traffic in Waukesha and the vacant properties down the street could be a huge boon! The old Walmart and Sentry stores sit vacant - let's find a people pulling revenue stream to move into these properties. The city government heads and councils need to work together with Mayor Scrima to make this a reality. The residents of Waukesha win when Waukesha as a whole works together.
Terry Thieme My priorities are meeting with the citizens to find out what is important to them. I am currently working with our City Administrator to develop a source of feedback where our citizens have a more formalized point of input on what is important to them. Some of the ideas we have talked about was an advisory committee made up of citizens and alderman to establish a priority. Another is to develop a survey that can be distributed to the citizens so they can rate their priorities. After the priorities have been established, have some type of informational meeting where the citizens can vet their opinions. This information can be forwarded to the Finance Committee and incorporated into the budget discussions. Ultimately, we have to decide as Alderman, but, with these surveys, I would hope to have a great feel from our citizens of what city services are truly important to them. The main thing to remember is that we all have our individual opinions but we need to listen to the citizens to come up with the best decisions overall.