Being an Alderman is More Than Just Voting Correctly

I am proud of my voting record as an alderman, but many of the most important things I did had nothing to do with votes.  I advocated for my district, and the people in my district, in many other ways.

Whoever is elected will most probably attend meetings and vote.  She or he might vote the right way.  But will that person use the office to make a real difference?

Here are some examples:

  • When the State of Wisconsin wanted to put a halfway home for a dozen violent sexual offenders on County Line Road, I notified residents, went on a letter writing campaign, organized our state and local representatives in opposition, researched and prepared position statements, and worked with homeowners’ groups to organize busloads of residents to protest at the state’s meeting.  I took weeks off of work to ensure this did not happen.
  • I distributed information about sex offenders.
  • I attended homeowners’ meetings either to update them on developments at City Hall or to discuss issues of concern.  Examples included a Neighborhood WATCH group along Cedarburg Road, multiple association board meetings and neighborhood informational meetings.
  • Some aldermen told me that County Line Road would never be resurfaced.  I was persistent, and finally succeeded.  Milwaukee wanted it to be a full business road with turn lanes and wide shoulders.  I lead the resistance to protect homeowners along the route, and to ensure that it did not attract more semi traffic and higher speeds.   I attended meetings with the City of Milwaukee and neighboring residents to ensure it was done right.
  • I successfully pushed for the reconstruction of neighborhood roads.  Previously, the City concentrated only on major and interconnecting roads.  For example, one road (Kathleen Lane) was so bad that, for years, I mentioned it during every single meeting at which roads were discussed.  I was so persistent that most members of the Council who served with me now know this 16-home road by name.
  • The southbound turn off of Mequon Road at Swan Road used to be incredibly dangerous.  I worked with City staff to have it redesigned by the State.
  • I worked with homeowners’ groups and residents to resolve many neighbor disputes.
  • I wrote the Mequon Water referendum question and edited the materials that were sent to residents.
  • I personally wrote dozens of resolutions and ordinances, and edited even more of them.  My professional background was used by the City.
  • I attended a meeting with Germantown officials and the DOT with Mayor Nuernberg to negotiate the reconstruction of Mequon Road.  If not for that meeting, the west side intersections would now have eight lanes.
  • I helped to organize a fundraiser for a family when their barn was destroyed.
  • I attended meetings with Mequon businesses who were concerned about Mequon’s business climate.
  • I intervened on behalf of businesses and residents when they were having trouble with city regulations.
  • I regularly asked the Mequon Police Department for extra neighborhood patrols.
  • I worked to ensure the long-term viability of the Mequon Nature Preserve so that it could be preserved for the future without burdening Mequon taxpayers.  I also organized aldermen to make a sizable personal contribution.
  • I donated one-third of my after-tax aldermanic pay to the Mequon Community Foundation for improvements at Lemke Park.
  • I gave presentations to school and scouting groups.
  • I attended a couple of school board meetings as a guest to exchange ideas and listen to concerns.
  • I pushed for, and ultimately succeeded in organizing, the first meeting in many years among the City of Mequon, the Village of Thiensville, and the Mequon-Thiensville School District.
  • I listened to residents, and communicated with residents through emails, meetings, telephone calls and flyers.  I developed an email list of over 1,000 residents to which I regularly sent updates.  There is an incredible shortage of communication in Mequon – most residents never hear from their alderman.  I never did before becoming an alderman or after leaving the Council. Every candidate says she or he will do it.  I actually did it.  I plan to do an even better job this time around.

This is a partial, off-the-top-of-my-head list.  Most aldermen do not do most of these things.  The 4th District’s did.  If you vote for me, you will again have an advocate in City Hall, and in our community.

Adding Value to the Mequon Economic Development Board

The City has a committee known as the Economic Development Board.  I participated on that Board as an aldermanic representative.  A couple of years ago, after I left the Common Council, the Mayor appointed me to that Board.

In both the private and public sectors, many board members show up and follow the agenda, but add little more.  I have always looked differently at participation on boards and in committees.  I believe it is my obligation to add value.

On Tuesday, I tried to add value in at least two ways:

  1.  Like most communities, the City has a fund called the Revolving Loan Fund.   That fund is provided by the federal government for the City to use to make small loans to new businesses.  At the meeting on Tuesday, the City proposed making a $50,000 loan to a great new business.  However, that loan would have been effectively unsecured.  I proposed, and the Board agreed, to make the loan subject to receiving a lien on some property owned by the applicant.  That way, if the new business fails, the City has a path to repayment.  Hopefully the Common Council will retain this new requirement.  It is important to be a prudent steward of the public’s money.
  2. Mequon has a reputation of being less helpful than many other communities to businesses that want to locate here.  Other communities are better at providing information to businesses, responding to their concerns, and making them feel welcome.  I requested that the City perform a review of the structure and offerings of the planning departments of other communities.  We should not be too proud to consider whether someone else is doing this better.  Hopefully, we can get the City to do this over the next several months.

As your alderman, I will continue my history of respectfully but persistently challenging the way the City does things.  Mequon is a great community, but we can be better.