Thieme looks to serve in expanded role as next Waukesha mayor

Published on: 7/30/2013

Terry Thieme has always felt a need to serve.

From serving his country in the US Marine Corps, to the City of Waukesha as a police officer, within his church, and to his constituents in District 1 on the city's northeast side as an alderman the last five years, it's the approach he's taken.

"That's been our family history of serving our country and community," said Thieme, who added his father was a World War II veteran and his son is currently in Afghanistan with the US Army.

Thieme wants to continue serving the City of Waukesha just in a new, expanded role as the next mayor.

He's the second candidate to file a registration statement for the mayoral election in April 2014. Downtown attorney Shawn Reilly, 52, declared his candidacy last month, while Mayor Jeff Scrima, 36, has not revealed his plans on a second term.

When asked about his plans to run again, Scrima replied, "now's the time to do the work of running the city. It's not time to work on campaigning."

Stressing fairness

For Thieme, however, it was the perfect time to add his name to the mix.

"I've been contemplating about things for a while," said Thieme, who turns 57 next week. "It wasn't just instantaneously. I believe it's something I have the capabilities to do and something that would work out after studying it for a while and getting the pulse of different people (community leaders and constituents) and think there's enough support out there."

Thieme, who retired from the Waukesha Police Department in 2007, said he has the characteristics to be the man for the job.

Thieme said the motto he will continue to preach is "fairness." It's about being fair with employees and constituents, he said.

Great Lakes advocate

As an alderman, he has served on various committees, such as Human Resources, Ordinance and License, Public Works and the Transit Commission.

But Thieme highlights the work he has helped accomplish as a member of the Water Utility Commission in the city's pursuit of Great Lakes water.

"We don't want our grandkids and great-grandkids to have to deal with this later on. It's not done yet, but there's no reason to believe that this application won't be successful. There's been a lot of time, research and dollars spent on this."

He addressed how the application process has been a transparent one. Thieme would bring that philosophy to the mayor's office.

"I would be open and honest with the citizens of any projects coming in and would always be well-vetted," Thieme said. "I feel I'm very diplomatic and have a good connection with people. It's about being open-minded where it's not my way or the highway. It's important to listen to a variety of people, not just a select few."

Improving gateways

Thieme wants to see the gateways into the city be improved. He said a lot of them have been "ignored."

"There's areas where weeds are growing so high and I think some of that could be a direct corelation of some of the departments being overwhelmed. I would get the pulse of the departments and it could be that more communication needs to be done between the city, county and state."

He said the city needs to be cognizant in this year's budget of what services should stay so residents' needs aren't compromised such as with snow plowing and road repairs.

Strong competition

Thieme, who works as a card support coordinator at Kohl's Credit Center, can now begin fundraising and campaigning before candidates officially file for the position in December after receiving signatures on their nomination papers.

Reilly, who Thieme believes will be a strong contender next year, got a head start.

"I think he would make a great mayor and think there will be some great choices," Thieme said. "But when it's all said and done the citizens will decide what approach and style they want for the chief executive officer of their city and that's what it will boil down to."

So what would Thieme's style be?

"I'm a person who speaks off the cuff," Thieme said. "What you see is what you get and I'm not going to change who I am if I get elected. I'll listen and be fair."

At a glance

Who: Terry Thieme

Age: 56

Occupation: Kohl's Department Stores Credit Center card support coordinator

Education: Waukesha County Technical College, associate degree; Mount Senario College, bachelor's degree

Experience: Alderman in District 1 (2008-present); Retired police officer, City of Waukesha (1988-2007); Also was police officer in the City of Jefferson and Town of Beloit

Family: Wife, Karen, three adult children, Taryn, Deanna and Justin