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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

The lady or the accountant? Two questions for the next mayor

Wauwatosa, mayoral candidates, Kathy Ehley, Peter Donegan

(First an edit: Pete Donegan is not an accountant--not that there's anything wrong with being an accountant! I misheard that, although I'm sure he would not mind the implication that he pays careful attention to the numbers. But we'll let the title stand because it's a good enough description.)

If you wanted a model campaign for decency, honesty, and competence, the Wauwatosa mayoral campaign would be one to choose. While the previous election became an experiment in the successful use of divisive and partisan politics, candidates Pete Donegan and Kathy Ehley have returned to the nonpartisan place that serves a community best.

Which makes it harder for voters. We can't be fluffed up into ideological indignation that gives the illusion of ease in choosing. But what a nice conundrum, being able to choose between two candidates who will do the job well. (Actually, we had that choice last time, but the campaign gestalt urged us to see them otherwise.)

After last night’s candidate’s forum (live blogged here by WauwatosaNow), it became clear that we have a choice in style, and I imagine your choice will come down to which one you think suits you and the city best.

Donegan presented himself as devoted and authoritarian, Ehley as devoted and cooperative. I’ve met with both around neighborhood and other issues and here’s my subjective take: Donegan is more willing to listen to others and consider their positions than he seemed to be last night. (And that is not a criticism, btw.) Ehley is exactly as much a successful leader-by-cooperation as she seemed to be last night (and that is a compliment).

The people who show up for such forums tend to be. . . seasoned. On the gray-haired-citizen side. So much of the conversation was about serving seniors and retaining, as far as possible, current programs for them. With the development focus, there was talk about building condos for Tosa’s empty nesters—when the economy opens up. Not now, with tight money and a city budget deficit, both agreed. Ehley’s vision for the future also included acknowledging the need for better public transportation infrastructure for seniors. (And, I'd add, others.)

To translate into my terms, not hers, the future of aging is not entirely vigorous elders with cushy portfolios zipping around from consumer activity to consumer activity in the sporty or luxury cars of their dreams.

With fiscal restraint (or more than restraint), cautious economic development, and the Tosa status quo as a mature community taking center place last night, I’d like to ask the candidates two questions:

  1. What place is there in Wauwatosa for children and younger people? What do you see as the city’s role in supporting and encouraging those populations?
  1. In working to develop the city’s tax base revenue through economic development, the interests of business and neighbors will sometimes collide. What thought and measurement framework will you use to weigh the interests of the people living in the communities, the neighbors and taxpayers, the neighborhoods and the environment that makes this city so desirable, against those of business development?

I'll send them this post and hope they'll share their answers with us. Maybe the answers will help me clarify what's an admirable tough choice.

 

 

 

 

 

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