Although the candidates for the village board have had a number of panel discussions, or debates, the total audience they were able to address was very small, maybe a little over a hundred people total, compared to Shorewood’s population of some 13,000.
I did a telephone interview with each candidate, asking them about their positions on very specific issues. Not all of these issues will be of concern to every voter, but hopefully I have covered enough of them to give the voters a better idea about the candidates.
As a disclaimer, these were live telephone interviews, from which I made notes, so the responses should not be considered verbatim.
If any candidate feels that their response was not adequately conveyed, or if they would like to add additional comments, they are encouraged to use the comment section at the end of this posting ---- comments from all readers are of course always welcome.
The Election is this coming Tuesday, April 6, 2010 --- the 4 candidates are vying for 2 open seats.
The Candidates are:
1) Ellen Eckman, educator, incumbent, served two terms, running for third term.
2) Don Ford, business executive, first time candidate
3) Patrick Linnane, retired government & non profit executive, first time candidate
4) Timothy Wick, business owner in Shorewood, served on village board 1992-1998.
QUESTIONS & RESPONSES
1) During your time as a Trustee, what were your greatest accomplishments:
ECKMAN: Helped re-establish the Conservation Committee, worked on the Parks Committee, worked with the CDA on the Oakland Ave and Capitol Drive projects
WICK: I served two terms on the village board, 1992 to 1998. I didn’t consider that I personally can take credit for accomplishments we had, but that we worked together as a board on the issues that were brought to us, and used the resources of the village attorney, village manager, etc.
2) What new ideas are you bringing to the village board
ECKMAN: Continue development of the parks, more bicycle and pedestrian safety, collaborate on projects with the county like the Esterbrook dog park
FORD: No preset agenda, have more time to become more involved in the community, as a CPA I would focus on finances and alternatives to property taxes
LINNANE: I would like to use my past experience to help build partnerships with the school district, the neighboring municipalities, the university and businesses.
WICK: I am concerned with how the BID money is being spent. One example that is very close to my own livelihood is that the BID is actively spending money and soliciting to get a Wine Store to move into the new development at Oakland and Kensington. I pay taxes to the BID and they are using my own money to bring a specific competition to my business, directly across the street from me. In addition, to my store, there are many others that already sell wine, including Sendiks, Pick and Save.
3) Shorewood has been very aggressive in promoting new commercial development --- do you agree with this and why
ECKMAN: Commercial development strengthens property values which were dropping 10 years ago, commercial property brings in more taxes as they pay a higher tax rate
FORD: I agree with the work the CDA is doing. As a CPA I want to make sure costs are under control. I think the new development increases tax base and attracts families
LINNANE: We have to be aggressive to enhance our quality of life, including being able to walk to businesses.
WICK: Although I agree with new commercial development and the new tax dollars it might bring, I am concerned that we concentrate too much on new tax dollars, without being concerned enough with spending the money we already have more wisely.
4) How does the TIF affect residential property owners
ECKMAN: I feel they increase overall value, but not sure of numbers
FORD: It doesn’t
LINNANE: I think it banks the increase in property value for future use --- not sure of the return on investment.
WICK: I don’t think it directly impacts residential property owners.
5) Should we have paid big money to Harleys and the Bistro to move down the block or across the street
ECKMAN: Yes, I feel that the constituents wanted us to do so
FORD: I have not had a chance to study those issues yet.
6) What about the building owners where they moved from
ECKMAN: That wasn’t a question.
FORD: It could be concerning, especially if it is just a “shell game” .
LINNANE: That is a legitimate concern that needs to be addressed.
WICK: It is a concern that across the street from me now will be 3 empty commercial spaces, since the village is paying the Bistro to move to the new development.
7) Should we have given a loan to Open Book
ECKMAN: Don’t know, not sure of loan security
FORD: I am glad it is there, sorry to hear it is closing.
LINNANE: Given the value it brings to Shorewood, I would endorse.
8) Should the Village clear the snow from business sidewalks and parkways so shops are more accessible
ECKMAN: We are doing so now, DPW bought new equipment to do so
FORD: I would be in favor of the snow removal to give access to the shops.
LINNANE: I would like to try to figure out a way we can do that.
WICK: As regarding businesses, yes.
9) Did you think the recent streetscaping on North Oakland Avenue was necessary just about 10 years after it had a major overhaul
ECKMAN: The first attempt was not successful, had problem with bricks in parkway.
FORD: I am not familiar with the entire history on the Oakland streetscaping, but I am aware that the planters just put in are an obstruction for cars parking.
LINNANE: Not sure
WICK: No. It was a big waste of money. The items they replaced were nowhere near the end of their life. Now we have those awful planters that people hit with their car doors.
10) Do you think our residential housing stock is keeping up with modern standards
ECKMAN: We are actively encouraging property owners in lots of ways including exterior code compliance
FORD: No opinion yet
LINNANE: Yes- but we need to continue working on it
WICK: We are an older village and some of our housing can be improved.
11) What ideas do you have for improving our residential properties to more current housing standards
ECKMAN: Don’t know if possible for TIF, state has rebate programs, we need more education
FORD: Need to study issue more.
LINNANE: I think programs like property management training and more oversight on landlords
WICK: I am in favor of the duplex program, converting to single family, upgrade the housing and cut down on vehicles.
12) Are there any energy conservation ideas or programs that you would introduce or support
ECKMAN: More work and input from the Conservation Committee
FORD: At the village level, recycling and chemicals used are of concern to me.
LINNANE: Everyday something new --- a lot to look at and do --- the school district has set a good example
WICK: I would like to see the village provide larger recycling containers, I bought two of my own at my own expense. The recycling hauler for the village has managed to break both of them, but won’t take responsibility for that. An increase in the number of times we pick up recycling compared to trash, and the costs involved should be studied.
13)What about consolidating services such as the police dept with other Northshore suburbs
ECKMAN: Worth discussing, talked about it at length, initiatives to Whitefish Bay turned down by WFB, would still be open to consideration
LINNANE: Coordination and cooperation can be good, and we should look at how we can improve service while benefiting from the economies of scale
WICK: I would support that.
14)What do you think needs to be done to support the money problems of the Shorewood Schools
ECKMAN: I am on the joint task force of village and school board officials, we are in exploratory discussions, in the past we helped pay for the new athletic field and streetscaping
FORD: We should if we are able to.
LINNANE: There is activity now between the village and school boards, they are studying what they can do legally and economically.
WICK: They are separate government entities, and not much we can really do there.
15)Should the Shorewood Schools consolidate with the WFB system?
ECKMAN: No idea
FORD: That is the business of the school board.
16)What do you propose to do about the sewer overflows from Shorewood due to our combined sewer system
ECKMAN: We are working with MMSD and exploring options
FORD: This is something we must address, as it affects the quality of the lake water.
LINNANE: Don’t know enough about the issue to comment at this point.
WICK: We need to separate them, plain and simple.
17)Do you think the BID helps Shorewood businesses
ECKMAN: BID has made businesses more visible
FORD: I am not familiar enough with what they do.
LINNANE: Don’t know enough about the issue to comment at this point.
18)Should the Senior Center be upgraded --- do we need more services for seniors – if so what
ECKMAN: I think the need has been met at this point
FORD: I don’t know the history of what has changed, but I do know that the Senior Center should be a destination for the Seniors and am in favor of making it so.
LINNANE: I have not heard any requests for it
WICK: Yes --- we should provide a quality area for them to gather.
19) Are the overnight parking restrictions necessary --- do they unfairly impact the lower income residents of the village, as more of a taxing function than police function
ECKMAN: We are working on a comprehensive plan, feeling is that a lot of residents don’t want it, purpose of ban is not safety.
FORD: I would like to see the statistics and study the issue more thoroughly, I am also interested in facts about hardships the restrictions may create for some of the people affected.
LINNANE: This is an issue that will never be resolved. Different concerns different parts of village, such as area by UWM.
WICK: I am against overnight parking.
20) What changes in priorities would you suggest for the future
ECKMAN: Need to continue interest in infrastructure, parks, Atwater, conservation and healthy finances
FORD: Closer work with the school board, an emphasis on the parks and the lake, and continue to increase property values.
LINNANE: The village is in the process of doing a comprehensive plan, which I would like to participate in, issues like parking, the beach, and the river.
WICK: I would like to see fundraising for projects such as a garden on the parkway, improving Atwater beach, and some other enhancements that we can possibly get private contributions for.