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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

14th District(s) Candidate Forum

by folkbum

The Lake Express has complimentary WiFi, so assuming that my battery holds out (I forgot the important half of my power cord), I will try to provide some updates as the forum progresses. Looks like County City candidates are up first, but we're about five fifteen minutes behind.

The League of Women Voters is moderating tonight. The Aldermanic candidates: Tony Zielinski (inc.), Andrew Reid, and Arthur Kimball.

Opening Statements:
TZ: Originally ran on property taxes, public safety, business revitalization, environment, and constituent services. Gives examples, including that he cut more budget items than any other alderman, but need to keep essential services; put more law enforcement on the street, law enforcement endorsements, etc. Revitalized business, anti-sweat shop legislation.
AR: Mostly life-long resident. Brought back nighttime trick or treat--make the neighborhood feel like a neighborhood again. My job is to get residents involved, want to hear from you first.
AK: Important for voters to be informed about choices--don't base vote on signs or who you know. Instead, who will represent you best. Live in Bay View for 14 years, seen growth and change. Been involved, have a Masters in Public Administration, worked with public agencies. Taxes increase as services decrease, our budget is leveraged and politicians failing.

Q1: Most important issue?
AR: Business--why so many vacant storefronts? Bring more business here = more money to fight crime and beautify. Walking business district.
AK: Fiscal Stability--MKE has structural deficit, borrow every year to support services because, in part, TZ puts more police on the street. MKE has too many cops per population based on a study, plus so much overtime. Police, debt too much. Need responsible govt.
TZ: Property taxes, Public Safety, and Business Revitalization. Have MBA and JD; my education provides me with expertise to make most sound decisions. We are not engaged in deficit borrowing, we borrow against revenue coming in the same year--not a deficit. Need safety, need strong business, which Bay View has grown in.

Q2: Last fall MPS lowered tax rate, resulting in cuts. How would you balance tax cuts and needs of MPS, and work with school board?
AK: City is integral to MPS, more integration of services (i.e., share gras cutting). Bay View High School is a problem--what has TZ done with BVHS. Wants to turn BVHS into a charter school, provide complete package to make BV attractive and stable. Also, be more rigorous in budgeting.
TZ: Some things I've done at BVHS: Gotten violence prevention counselors in BVHS, helped bring bursing apprenticeship, sits on board with community for improving BVHS, added truancy to list of nuisance property violations.
AR: (Digs at TZ for not answering question) This is why I'm here, want to investigate and look for answers, don't have all the stats about this money. But I will fight for it, find a way to do it.

Q3: Safety in MPS (my question)?
TZ: Need police in schools, supported efforts to get partnerships into schools for safety.
AR: Cops in schools, no. MPS has budget, should hire private security. MKE has cancelled auction program--bring it back and hire private security.
AK: Obviously we have enough officers, but do we want them in schools. Problems in MPS are social ones--poverty. TZ wants to give truancy tickets to poor parents. Sets students up for failure, increases cycle of poverty.

Q4: Homeless? ...

And this is where my battery died. I have handwritten notes for the remaining questions and the county candidates, but let me reiterate what I said this morning, because it's still true: I plan to vote for Tony Zielinski and Chris Larson next week.

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