Van Scyoc looks to fill vacated seat left by Laska in Town of Waukesha

Published on: 12/31/2013

With Mike Laska announcing he will step down as a supervisor in the spring, there will be a change on the Town of Waukesha Board.

But a familiar face could return to fill that seat.

Former Town of Waukesha Chairwoman Angie E. Van Scyoc will run for the supervisor's spot on the five-person Town of Waukesha Board.

"I look forward to the opportunity to again serve the taxpayers of the Town of Waukesha as part of an ongoing effort and renewed commitment to lower our taxes, secure our borders and protect our right to sufficient water in order preserve and protect the value of our homes," Van Scyoc said.

Whether Van Scyoc, who filed her nomination papers on Monday, has an opponent is to be determined. Candidates have until Tuesday to file all their paperwork at Town Hall.

Regardless, her intentions should make for an intriguing few months leading up to the April 1 spring election. That's because, if elected, the Town Board would offer an interesting dynamic as she would join Town of Waukesha Chairman John Marek and reunite with Supervisor Brian Fischer.

After a heated campaign, Marek defeated Van Scyoc by almost 200 votes this spring. Van Scyoc was chairwoman for three years after winning a recall election in 2010. And before that, she was on the Plan Commission for 18 years.

But Van Scyoc has stayed just as invested in the Town of Waukesha.

"Elected officials at every level of government should demonstrate unwavering adherence to truthful dialogue, civility, respect and cooperation in order to effectively accomplish the work of the people," Van Scyoc said. "This conduct is my expectation when I cast my ballot and my steadfast pledge to the taxpayers of the Town of Waukesha."

Battling Marek, Fischer

She and Marek, especially almost immediately after the election, continued their feud at board meetings — but this time in different roles with Marek as chairman and Van Scyoc as a resident.

At one meeting when Van Scyoc was speaking Marek cut her off saying he wouldn't "tolerate personal attacks." She was upset that Marek had limited the amount of time residents could speak to the board to three minutes.

Meanwhile, Van Scyoc and Fischer have known each other for many years dating back to their Plan Commission days in the 1990s. An already rocky relationship took an ugly turn when Fischer recently filed a lawsuit against Van Scyoc for defamation on comments she made against him in online and print publications.

However, Van Scyoc and her attorney, Joan M. Shepard, have said that Fischer's claims are "without merit" and that Van Scyoc has "ample support for her statements."

"The truth is and will be my defense," Van Scyoc previously said. Shepard added that Van Scyoc "would most certainly bring a defamation counterclaim based on the malicious and false statements repeatedly made by (Fischer) in the newspaper and in public meetings."

Laska stepping down

While Van Scyoc is looking at returning to the board, Laska is calling it a career.

"I will not seek re-election," he wrote in an email Friday afternoon before filing his non-candidacy papers. "I thank my supporters for all their support over the years. It was very gratifying to be able to serve our community."

In an email, he cited many reasons for not running again. Among them was the constant discord and "personal attacks" from Town Board members toward him.

Laska was a volunteer firefighter for 11 years in the town and was also the town chairman in the 1990s before serving as a supervisor since 2011.

"In all cases my decision was out of heartfelt concern for the direction, future and safety of the town," Laska said.

Laska also cited his disappointment in the town losing its attorney, auditor and clerk-treasurer. All recently resigned.

A constant struggle

And over the past year, Laska has battled Marek during meetings on many topics. One related to the use of videoconferencing for supervisors who are unable to attend Town Board meetings at Town Hall.

Marek has tried to remove the use of allowing supervisors attend meetings via videoconferencing since he was elected and has called the town "the laughingstock" for allowing it, saying board members should be physically present during meetings.

More specifically, however, he wanted to stop Laska from using Skype to tune into meetings while he is at his vacation home in Texas during the winter months.

Despite Marek's objection, the board, in a 3-2 vote, approved the continued use of videoconferencing.

Marek has also clashed with Laska over the Town Hall's septic tank issue.

Laska has been coordinating the project with engineer Christopher Genellie into how to correct the Town Hall's septic tank problems.

Marek, however, has continually looked at removing Laska from the project for Fischer. But with Supervisors Joe Banske and Larry Wolf giving him the support, Marek's removal request has been shot down.

Earlier this fall, Laska appeared to be growing tired of having to defend himself against Marek.

"If there's any way to throw shots at me it happens," Laska said. "It's the greed and it will just get more volatile."

In the race

Banske recently had the same thoughts. But Banske, who was elected as asupervisor in 2010 when Van Scyoc was during the recall, is in the 2014 race.

However, he filed his nomination papers on Friday with some reservations.

"I thought very seriously about putting myself, my family and my staff through this yet again," Banske said. "I think I have served the town from my heart. I have sincerely sought out to be knowledgeable on the topics I voted on, and then voted in a way that sincerely reflected what I believed was in the best interest of the town, regardless of the topic.

"My track record on every single vote supports that view. I think this is the type of representation people want and deserve."

Crediting his service

Banske said Laska represented the town in a positive way. But that "the harassment and badgering" from the opposition "isn't worth it" anymore for Laska.

"Mike is a man that truly loves the community," Banske said. "I found him to be 100 percent dedicated to the Town of Waukesha. He was always willing to do the work and put in the time to have an understanding of the issue prior to the vote being called. People disagree in this world, but people who disagree with Mike's position should see that Mike has always been truthful and sincere."

Van Scyoc had nothing but good words for Laska as well.

"I am grateful for Mike's service to our community," Van Scyoc said. "I am honored to be supported by Mike and Kathy Laska in the upcoming election."