Now a former mayor, Scrima stands by his reform efforts in Waukesha

Published on: 4/15/2014

Jeff Scrima's time as the City of Waukesha's mayor has officially ended, and the 36-year-old is already looking ahead to what's next in his life.

"When one door closes in life, many other doors open," Scrima said. "I'm very excited about the future and it will likely involve furthering my education and serving in an area where I can again assist others in improving the quality of life for others. This is not the end."

Before he was handily defeated in the general election two weeks ago by Shawn Reilly, he had hoped his immediate future would include another term as mayor.

Asked why he felt voters turned to Reilly four years after he won the mayoral election by almost 60 percent in 2010, Scrima couldn't point to any one reason. "It's hard to say," he said.

Difficult reform

Scrima viewed himself as "a reformer," dealing with topics involving changes "that did not come easily."

How people reacted to those changes was a factor.

"For every action there is a reaction," Scrima said. "We have brought significant renewal and a realignment to the city. However, the old guard was attached to the old ways. Perhaps they see these things as difficult."

Does that mean the city is stepping backward from his reforms?

"I hope not," he said, before quickly adding "I want the new mayor and all future mayors to be successful. My hope is just that the city will continue the upward trajectory and build upon the positive things we've accomplished the last few years."

Scrima said this includes holding property taxes below the inflation rate, working with Oak Creek to bring in Lake Michigan water, and adding 700 family-supporting jobs, including the Woodman's Food Market.

"The citizens elected me four years ago to be a reformer and I said I would provide a new vision," Scrima said.

He said the New Day in Waukesha Fund he created when he became mayor to support community projects will continue and hopes more people donate to "provide positive new initiatives."

Scrima notes that he was heavily involved in downtown Waukesha before and during his time as mayor.

"I will support anything in the community that focuses on building our sense of community and represents the positive values that we all share," Scrima said.

In face of criticism

The first-term mayor, however, was not without his share of criticism for his actions.

This included the Common Council removing his supervisory authority over former City Administrator Lori Luther for clashing with her, not signing the letter to the Department of Natural Resources to keep the city's water application moving forward in 2010, and disputing with the Common Council on various issues.

And most recently, Scrima received criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for not attending President Barack Obama's visit to Waukesha and also from Reilly for delaying the vote on the shared health clinic with the county and school district.

Asked if he has any regrets during his time as mayor, Scrima said "We all learn through experiences, and serving as mayor has been a blessing to me and hopefully it's been a blessing to the community at-large."

Despite the public criticism, Scrima doesn't rule out running again for an elected position.

"I want to keep all options open," Scrima said. "I'm probably not a typical elected official and I'm not happy with our two-party system. I've remained independent and I just wanted results."