Tosa Now Q&A

I was recently asked by Wauwatosa Now to submit answers to three questions. I following is a somewhat longer version of my responses, which were restricted to 150 words each.

  1. Work on local streets, including expansion of Bluemound and Mayfair roads, will start soon to prepare for the traffic that will be diverted during the Zoo Interchange reconstruction. How would you make sure the interests of the city and specifically the district residents and businesses are represented?

Based on our region’s recent experience with the Marquette Interchange, I feel confident that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will have good plan in place to minimize the disruption to Tosans and all users of the freeway system.

The city’s scope of action is largely limited to an advisory role, since this is a state project. However, the DOT has been receptive to city input, so my primary roll will be to serve as a point of contact for citizens and businesses, ensuring that their voices are heard when DOT comes before the city. I intend to be highly pro-active in connecting with the citizens of the district on this and all matters affecting us.

I’ll also advocate for a strong effort to minimize the use of residential streets as shortcuts. This may require strict enforcement and perhaps traffic calming measures (speed bumps or calming circles) on side streets.


2. Reducing costs and increasing revenues has become the reality of the city’s annual budget. Are there any areas you see as off-limits and any areas where you’d like to see changes?

Clearly safety is a top priority, so reductions in police and fire services are unacceptable. Basic infrastructure cannot be allowed to crumble, because it is key to economic development.

I am eager to see greater efficiencies, though I believe the city administration is already doing an excellent job at identifying and implementing cost saving measures.

Ultimately, I believe we can’t cut our way out of our fiscal problems; we need to grow our way out. Maintaining and enhancing our livability is vital to attracting the people and enterprises that will add value to our community.

I would like to see the city become a model of sustainability for the rest of the country. Saving on energy and garbage tipping fees is good in itself, but we’ll enjoy even greater economic benefits enjoyed if businesses and families looking for a home view our city as a national model in its management of sewerage, stormwater, waste management and energy use.

3. Residents will have the opportunity to vote on a referendum to reduce the size of the council. How do you feel about the existing size?

I am persuaded that our council is outsized and can be trimmed. This is going to take significant consideration and planning, however.

As it is now, our council members devote quite a bit of time working on various council committees and as liaisons to citizen committees. Fairness and common sense demands that the time required of our elected officials – for whom these are part-time positions – is not too burdensome. Simply cutting the council in half – and doubling the committee assignments – for example, is not a sensible solution.

I expect the reduction to take the form of a) changes to the scope of the various city and citizen committees (for example, combining the energy and recycling committees into a sustainability committee); and b) redrawing of the city districts into 10 or 12 districts with a single alder, instead of the current arrangement of two alders in eight districts (for a total of 16).