Shorewood - Incumbent Patrick Linnane will seek re-election on April 2, squaring off against newcomers Tammy Bockhorst and Paul Zovic in a contest which will fill two seats on the Village Board.
Bockhorst, owner of an information technology and public relations consulting business, said longtime village trustee Ellen Eckman's decision not to run precipitated her bid for the Village Board.
"When I found out Ellen (Eckman), the only woman on the board, was considering stepping down, I figured it was the right time," said Bockhorst. "We have great things here. And I'm excited to work to make it better."
Linnane, the incumbent candidate with over 40 years in government consulting and administration, hangs his hat on his experience with various government agencies and time on the board.
"I know how to participate in not only representing citizens, but working with other elected officials," said Linnane. "Everyone would share the same list of characteristics of what is great about the village, but they don't rank them the same way."
Zovic, an environmental consultant with 10 ½ years on the School Board, with 3 years as president, also said Eckman's departure prompted his run.
"I thought the board is going to need someone with good experience," said Zovic. "I have a strength in decision making and a variety of experience."
To Zovic, the village needs to keep thinking of ways to share services, alleviate parking problems, think about development, and address what he considers the top issue: fixing the sewer and stormwater system to prevent catastrophic flooding.
"Until we keep our streets from flooding and our basements from backing up, we're not able to take care of anything else," said Zovic, adding that as an environmental consultant, "You have options, from my perspective, on how green you make it."
Linnane said the top issue facing Shorewoodin the coming years will be maintenance of the village's aging infrastructure, including ongoing sewer, stormwater and road projects. Among those, said Linnane, is the communication infrastructure which the village board needs to work to improve as well.
It's not only communication with the village and our social media network," said Linnane, "but also our electronic processes for parking, financial systems, interdepartmental communication, and shared services with the school district and other communities."
Bockhorst said she will work to promote more shared services between the village and school district. She also commented that the Village Board should find a low cost way of broadcasting its meetings to the public.
"We should be a little more proactive about transmitting these meetings," said Bockhorst, "in a way that increases civic engagement and makes them accessible."
Linnane likens the possible consolidation of the Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, and Glendale police departments to the recent merger which created the North Shore Health Department. Though, as with the NSHD, Linnane is open to the idea of a consolidation, he said Shorewood would need to have a strong voice at the bargaining table.
"We as customers have demands we have to make of that service," Linnane said. "There has to be a strong sense of what I'm putting in and what I'm getting back is equitable."
Bockhorst commented that the health department consolidation boosted services, but that any discussion on a police merger would have to center around service and not cost cutting.
"We've seen a lot of positives from consolidation, but it's a somewhat irreversible decision, and it can't be based completely on economics," said Bockhorst. "We have to make sure the same level of service is delivered to our residents."
Zovic also brought up the consolidated health and fire departments, which he described as "very successful." Against that backdrop a police merger may seem like a good idea, said Zovic, but would need to withstand careful scrutiny.
"It sure does seem like the consolidation of the police departments could work," said Zovic, "but the devil is in the details."
All three candidates said a decision on a merger needs to be made before the Village Board can take up the subject of replacing the Shorewood police station.
If Gov. Walker's proposed continuation of the tax levy freeze goes into effect for the next two years, the Village Board will be looking at a zero sum game when it comes to balancing budgets.
Bockhorst said the village needs to look at a combination of development, user fees, and potentially special assessments to bring in more revenue while simultaneously finding ways to save money.
"I don't want to be on a cut spree," said Bockhorst. "We need to be creative and we have to find a balance, and it might be doing things completely differently."
Zovic said his experience has prepared him for the task.
"I've had ten and a half years of very challenging budget decisions as a School Board member," said Zovic. "It takes a lot of people working very, very hard, continually."
He added that the village should look at permits, fees, and fines as sources of revenue as well as grants.
Linnane commented that while Shorewood has done, and still does a good job of managing costs, the board will need to look at more shared services, potential fee increases, and grants to help prevent cuts.
"We may be approaching some hard decisions on cutbacks in services - by and large we haven't been cutting back on services," said Linnane. "At the end of the day, we have to protect the quality of life in the village the best we can."
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