As of today, Julie Siegel, 42, of 5267 N. Diversey Blvd., is the first to file for one of the two seats available in April on the Whitefish Bay Village Board. Incumbent Kenneth Berg announced he will step down. The other incumbent is Trustee David Fee.
With the dearth of village coverage from the print media, I'll step up to write about the April election in Whitefish Bay. It's an odd position, and I remind all that I am not a journalist. I will be as fair as possible in these beginning months. I'll try to talk to each candidate and get their views on Whitefish Bay and its direction. I will, on occasion, interject opinion, and will probably write endorsements at the end of the process.
I contacted Julie Siegel, our first candidate for the two spots on the Whitefish Bay Village Board of Trustees. I spoke to her for about 45 minutes, and asked her a range of questions, from her educational background to specific issues that will be discussed in this election.
Julie grew up in Shorewood, and moved to Whitefish Bay 16 years ago. She has a Finance degree, as well as a Masters degree in Social Work from UW-Milwaukee. She has previously worked in Real Estate, and had been working at St. Michael's as a social worker, but left her job two years back to attend to her family.
Her husband, Roger, works in real estate and has been recently been appointed to WFB's Community Development Authority (CDA). Her father, Samuel Dickman, is the Village Board President in Bayside. She said she'd considered running for Trustee before, and explained her father had encouraged her to investigate recently.
I asked about how her nomination process went .. she said her kids laughed at (with) her as she went into Sendik's and bumped into people she knew, to get the 20 signatures required for nomination.
Why is she running? "I love Whitefish Bay," she said, "I love living here, it's a great place with good schools and a quality community." She mentioned the 4th of July Parade and Great Pumpkin displays as some of her favorite civic moments.
I asked for her thoughts on the re-development of Silver Spring. She had attended the Panel Meeting in November, and found Joe Bartolotta's ideas on Silver Spring to be helpful. She wasn't sure what she would like to see on Silver Spring, noting that, as Bartolotta had, rents are prohibitively high for restaurants to be successful. She was generally accepting of creating a Business Improvement District (BID) Board, but wasn't sure if it was for the Trustees to form. As an alternative, she suggested having one realtor in charge of marketing the district.
Generally, she said, it was important to keep the scale appropriate for any new buildings on Silver Spring, and that anything new be considerate of the immediate neighbors. I did ask if she believed the "pace" of action on Silver Spring was too slow, too fast, or just right .. she had no comment because she was "new to the process".
We also spoke about another issue that has concerned Whitefish Bay over the last few years, namely, the handful of homes that have been torn down to make way for new, bigger homes. She didn't have a specific answer, but suggested that as long as the new homes fit the scale of the neighborhood, and that the developer is following the zoning regulations, it was acceptable.
Finally, she said she was going to research the issues of Whitefish Bay by talking to the Village Manager, and by going door to door to get a feel for what residents think is important. She ended with the idea that she would work hard for the village, that she was open minded and willing to listen to concerns and find out answers to questions she didn't know.
Admittedly, this is a very premature interview with of a candidate who had just filed nomination papers, and hadn't formed positions on the issues that face our Village. I appreciate the time she gave to me, and will try to follow up with Siegel later to hear more specific answers on her vision for the village.
I would also like to add that Whitefish Bay needs candidates for these positions. Government doesn't work well with politicians who run unopposed, when voters have no choices, and no ability to pick the better woman or man. As Ken Berg leaves the board, he takes with him some 15 years of experience, and leaves a big hole to fill. Whitefish Bay faces serious issues each year, and we need some of the best and brightest to step forward and lead.
I will find out the specifics, but I believe the deadline to file nomination papers is the first week in January, 2008, so the clock is ticking!