New leaders sworn in at Waukesha Common Council meeting

Christopher Kuhagen
Outgoing Mayor Jeff Scrima is given a street sign from former Common Council President Terry Thieme during his last meeting as mayor on April 15.
Published on: 4/21/2014

A new era began within the city of Waukesha last week at City Hall.

Jeff Scrima bid farewell as mayor, yielding to his victorious opponent Shawn Reilly, and Eric Payne took over as the new common council president. Local attorney Brian Running was also sworn in as the city's new attorney.

After he was sworn in by Clerk-Treasurer Gina Kozlik, Reilly offered his initial address as mayor at the April 15 Waukesha Common Council meeting.

'I will be ethical, fair and honest,' Reilly said during his state of the city address. 'I will strive to be confident and timely in my positions and decisions. I want myself and all of the city's decision-makers to always consider the big picture to do what is best for our entire community.

'I'm proud to be Waukesha's mayor.'

Scrima bids farewell

As a parting gift for his time as mayor, Scrima received a 'Scrima Drive' street sign from former Common Council President Terry Thieme.

Thieme, who ran against Scrima in the mayoral primary, thanked Scrima for his four years of service.

'It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to be able to run for an elected office,' Thieme said. 'It's not an easy position, as the aldermen know. ... Mayor Scrima did step forward and do (the job).'

Scrima also received a letter from Water Utility Commission President Joseph Piatt thanking him for his time on the commission.

Scrima made a brief statement at the meeting before Reilly took over.

'Serving the citizens of Waukesha has been a pleasure, and my hope is that the city continues its upward trajectory,' Scrima said.

Payne rewarded

In a position voted on by his fellow aldermen, Payne gained the title of council president after he was nominated by Alderman Steve Johnson and then received nine of the 15 votes during a closed ballot selection process.

Joe Pieper, who was the common council president from April 2012-13, was nominated by Thieme, who served in the role during the past year. Pieper received six votes.

Besides running the council's annual Christmas Party, Payne will serve as the spokesman and the representative of the council on many city matters and will fill in when the mayor is out of town or needs to take the floor during a city-run meeting to speak on an issue.

This is the first time during Payne's 10 years as an alderman he is council president.

'I got a good handle at what's going on,' said Payne, who represents the city's 2nd District which extends from Waukesha Memorial Hospital and City Hall in the southern part to the Waukesha County Airport in the northern part. 'I think I have the respect of the department heads where everything will work out. I'm happy (I was selected) and hopefully I won't let anyone down.'

Payne, who was joined on the council by his son Cory last spring and was sworn in earlier in the night to another three-year term, is the third-longest tenured alderman on the council. Only Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings and Johnson have served longer.

'The best thing is helping people, not only in your district but the entire city,' Payne said. 'That's the best feeling. And there's downsides of it as well, because you can't please everybody.'

Others sworn in

In addition to Payne, also sworn in to new three-year terms were aldermen Christopher Hernandez (District 3), Adam Jankowski (District 6), Daniel Manion (District 7), Johnson (District 10) and Andy Reiland (District 13). Peter Bartels was sworn into a two-year term in District 5.

All ran unopposed on April 1 except Reiland, who beat Dean Lemke to retain his seat.

Running, who takes over May 1 for longtime attorney Curt Meitz, defeated Waukesha Plan Commissioner Rick Congdon in the April 1 general election.