City of Waukesha will have a new attorney next spring

Published on: 12/10/2013

The City of Waukesha will have a new city attorney next spring.

After 28 years of holding the title, longtime city attorney Curt Meitz is not seeking re-election in 2014.

He filed noncandidacy papers with Clerk-Treasurer Gina Kozlik Dec. 5, four days after candidates for elected positions could begin circulating nomination papers.

Meitz has been the city attorney since 1985 when he took over for former city attorney George Lawler. He finished out the remainder of the term and then defeated Jess Martinez Jr. in 1986.

That was the only time Meitz had a challenger in an election.

He would have had at least two this year.

Local attorney Brian Running, who has lived in Waukesha with his family since 1993, was the first person to file a campaign registration statement for the position, while attorney Rick Congdon announced Monday that he is also in the race.

Running operates his own law firm on the second floor of the Associated Bank across the street from the Waukesha Public Library and Cutler Park.

He earned his law degree from Marquette University in 1989 and then started his career at a firm in Eau Claire. Running joined a Waukesha firm in 1993 before starting his own practice two years later.

Positive feedback

With an experienced background, becoming the city attorney was something others told him he should consider.

"I've been involved in the community and in governmental and civic organizations for a long time and people who know me said years ago why don't you run for the city attorney's position," Running said. "I've always been somewhat hesitant and said I would hate to walk away from my own practice.

"But this is an opportunity to use what I know and apply my profession to be further involved in the city and do what I know best. So enough people pestered me to do it that I said 'sure.'"

Running said his primary focus over the years has been civil law with most of his cases working with businesses and in real estate.

He was the attorney for Andrew Vallozzi's Bethesda Development and said he "had some involvement in the (Clarke Hotel) acquisition" working with the contractor on the business end of it. He said he wasn't involved in financing "in any way."

Besides law, Running, who has three children (Charlotte, 23, Chris, 21, Drew, 12) with his wife, Debbie (the executive director at the Literacy Council of Greater Waukesha Inc.) had previously been the emcee of jazz concerts on Wednesday evenings during the summer at Cutler Park.

He's also involved in other organizations relating to the city, such as the administrative review board and was previously on a downtown Business Improvement District committee.

Similar job duties

Running said his skills would translate to the position.

"There's a lot of overlap in what they do in the city attorney's office (and what I currently do)," Running said. "I'm an experienced litigator and the city handles lawsuits and does a lot of contract work. As a business lawyer, I do a lot of contract negotiations. City attorneys do real estate work and I do real estate work."

Running said he's ready to represent the city as its attorney.

"As lawyers we adapt to situations that our clients present to us," Running said. "You always can get more educated on the law and then you just learn in those situations.

"Honestly, I look forward to the challenge."

Congdon in the race

Congdon will as well.

He has extensive legal experience in both the private and public sector. He was the managing partner of the Waukesha firm Congdon, Walden, Schuster & Vaklyes and served Waukesha County as a circuit court judge.

He currently teaches Criminal Law at Bryant & Stratton College and is a member of the city's Plan Commission.

"Waukesha is a growing and energetic city now," Congdon said. "It needs an attorney with experience and community commitment to keep it moving forward."

Congdon has been very active in the community through the years.

He is the president of the Waukesha GuitarTown Inc., organization and has served on the Board of Directors of the Waukesha County Museum, La Casa de Esperanza, Sister City and the Early Risers Kiwanis.

For his contributions to the city, Congdon was presented with a Key to the City award last year that is annually presented by Mayor Jeff Scrima. The awards kept coming for Congdon this year. He was selected in the fall to Waukesha South High School's Wall of Fame.

Meitz did not return a call for comment.