Tight contest expected in Waukesha mayoral race
Contested races for mayor are on the ballots in seven cities across the Milwaukee area on April 1.
Incumbent mayors seeking re-election and their challengers will be on the spring general election ballot in five cities: Waukesha, South Milwaukee, Brookfield, Muskego and West Bend. Mayors in Franklin and Delafield did not seek another term in office, so voters in those cities will choose between two candidates without direct experience on the job.
Primary elections were held Feb. 18 in Waukesha and South Milwaukee, and those races became more competitive after incumbents placed second in both cities.
Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima is asking voters to hire him for a second four-year term. But he faces a significant challenge from attorney Shawn Reilly, top vote-getter in the primary even though it is his first campaign for public office.
Scrima said his opponent offers voters only "negativity and sarcasm," while he has a track record. During his four years, the city has held property tax levy increases below the rate of inflation, and local employers created more than 700 new jobs, he said.
Reilly has picked up the endorsement of Common Council President Terry Thieme, who placed third in the primary election last month, and eight other council members in his bid to oust Scrima.
Reilly's campaign theme: "No drama. Just work." He describes Scrima's tenure in just the opposite terms: all drama and no work.
Such drama was on display this month at City Hall, Reilly said, starting with the mayor misinforming city employees about a proposed shared medical clinic to be open to employees of the city, Waukesha County and Waukesha School District.
By last week, City Administrator Ed Henschel told the Common Council in a memo that ethics prevented him from following through on a Scrima request related to employee health services.
The mayor directed Henschel to ask ProHealth Care for a proposal to provide medical services to city workers only, Henschel's memo says. The mayor's request came after ProHealth Care was not selected in a public bidding process to provide services to the shared medical clinic, Henschel said in an interview.
Representatives of the city, county and school district selected Healthstat Inc. of North Carolina.
In a March 6 email to city employees, Scrima stated that use of the proposed shared clinic would be mandatory for city workers, when the truth is that it will be available as an option to them and their families, Reilly said.
Scrima's email describes the service as a county government clinic. The mayor knows better, Reilly contends, because the city has been planning the shared medical clinic for nearly two years.
Scrima said in an interview the city should take more time to consider proposals by other medical providers.
Reilly, in his campaign, also raises other City Hall dramas in Scrima's tenure.
The mayor refused to greet President Barack Obama during a Jan. 30 visit to a GE plant in Waukesha. Scrima said he would not meet Obama or Gov. Scott Walker, also in attendance at the plant tour, because they were political extremists who were unwilling to compromise on major issues.
As newly elected mayor in 2010, Scrima's opposition to the city's request to switch to a Lake Michigan water supply disrupted state review of the initial application. To restart the review, the Common Council reminded the mayor that he did not have authority to block the council-approved request for lake water.
Reilly specializes in municipal law, real estate development and business law. He was appointed to two two-year terms on the Waukesha Business Improvement District and served as district president in 2011.
Scrima is the full-time mayor of Waukesha and has worked as a real estate broker and developer.
Other suburban races
In other races:
■ South Milwaukee: Mayor Tom Zepecki is seeking a fifth term. The new term length is three years. He had served 10 terms on the city council before becoming mayor.
Ald. Erik Brooks, the challenger, has served three terms on the Common Council and created a local website, SouthMilwaukeeBlog.com, to share information with residents. He is a communications manager at MillerCoors and a co-founder of the South Milwaukee farmers market.
Brooks said it is time for a change in leadership and "time for new ideas." One, he said, is public investment in the downtown — from landscaping along streets to creating a business improvement district — to reverse the decline of a commercial center.
Zepecki described himself as "the conservative guy" in the race on issues of spending and property taxes. Even so, the city in his tenure has created several special tax districts to keep major industrial employers and to redevelop former shopping centers.
■ Brookfield: Voters will recognize the lineup of mayoral hopefuls this spring as the same one that was on the ballot four years ago.
This time, Mayor Steven Ponto is asking voters to hire him for a second four-year term. Ponto was a Common Council veteran when he was elected mayor in 2010.
Former Mayor Jeff Speaker lost to Ponto that year in a bid for re-election to a third term. He is back this year to try to avenge the loss.
■ Delafield: Kent Attwell and Ald. Michele DeYoe were the two top vote-getters in a February mayoral primary election and will face off April 1.
Attwell is chairman of the Lake Welfare Committee.
Mayor Ed McAleer, a seven-term veteran, did not seek re-election to a two-year term.
■ Franklin: Two city council members are competing for the job of mayor. Ald. Steve Olson was the top vote getter in the February primary.
His opponent is Common Council President Steve F. Taylor. Taylor also serves as a Milwaukee County Board supervisor.
Mayor Tom Taylor did not seek re-election this spring to a fourth three-year term.
■ Muskego: Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti is seeking a second three-year term.
Her challenger is Scott Dickman, owner of Great Clips hair salons.
Chiaverotti is a former city alderwoman and a former executive director of the Muskego Area Chamber of Commerce.
■ West Bend: Mayor Kraig Sadownikow is asking voters to send him back to City Hall for a second three-year term.
His challenger is Ald. Roger Kist, a retired parks employee with the Washington County Planning and Parks Department.
Sadownikow is president of American Construction Services in West Bend and a member of the board of directors of the West Bend Chamber of Commerce.
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