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Kofroth, Walsh, Stippich, Byrne join Common Council

April 2, 2014

Four new aldermen will join the Common Council with plans to advance Wauwatosa as a "hot spot" for new development this spring.

Matt Stippich in District 1, Michael Walsh, District 4, and Jason Kofroth, District 7, filled Pete Donegan, Jill Organ and Donal Birschel's open seats, respectively, Tuesday.

Allison Byrne will join the Common Council as District 6's new alderwoman, a seat held by Brian Ewerdt. Byrne ran unopposed and earned 479 votes. 

Re-elected incumbents include Kathleen Causier, District 2, Tim Hanson, District 3, Bobby Pantuso, District 5, and Craig Wilson, District 8.

The vote totals, according to unofficial results Tuesday:

DISTRICT 1

Matt Stippich 726

W. Scott Nelson 409

DISTRICT 4

Michael G. Walsh 543

John Pokrandt 460

DISTRICT 7

Jason Kofroth 443

Michael J. Morgan 409

Election results remain unofficial until they are certified by a board of canvassers.

Tight margins

This spring's voter turnout was down slightly compared to last year.

In 2013, 27.49 percent of registered voters participated in the election. This year, 21.9 percent of registered voters cast a ballot, accounting for 7,011 total votes.

"I expected close races everywhere," Common Council President Dennis McBride said. The 7th District was decided by just 34 votes, and the 4th by 83. The District 1 candidates were separated by 317 votes.

"In the first district I expected the race to be closer," McBride said.

Alderman-elect Jason Kofroth, 27, said his stance against sidewalks in the Bike/Pedestrian Facilities Plan is what pushed him into the lead.

"I really became an advocate for the residents for that plan, especially for 116th Street, which would have been affected the most," Kofroth said.

His opponent, Michael Morgan, said: "I knocked on more than 1,000 doors in District 7 and connected with many great people who want better communication and have many other issues with city government. I hope that I can find the best way to serve Wauwatosa and its residents as we look toward a bright and positive future."

Alderman-elect Matt Stippich, 44, credits his advantage to knocking on doors, meeting with neighborhood associations and "just having a lot of good face-to-face contact with potential voters."

"We both campaigned hard and reached out to voters all over the district in a respectful way and I think the voters appreciated that," W. Scott Nelson said in an email in response to Stippich's victory.

"The turnout shows that people were really engaged in the race and cared about who their next alderman was going to be," Nelson said.

Michael Walshhad served as 5th District alderman from 2008 to 2012 before moving to the 4th District to be closer to his children's schools. "I welcome him back to the council and 4th District," McBride said.

Neither Walsh nor Pokrandt could immediately be reached to comment.

Council character

Despite adding two new aldermen, McBride expects the council to remain relatively the same.

"The council will go on the way it is," he said. "We've had much better camaraderie than in previous years, so I look forward to working with everybody."

Upon rejoining the council as District 4's alderman, Walsh has said he will continue to support Hart Park. Walsh is operations manager of Interior Systems, a manufacturer of restaurant seating and décor. He is on the board of Tosa Tonight, a free concert series, and is a former Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal.

Kofroth said during campaigning that he hopes to encourage business and restaurant development in west Wauwatosa. As a self-described "fiscal conservative," Kofroth is a retirement services relationship coordinator at BMO Harris Bank. He also has been a board member of the Fisher Woods Neighborhood Association since 2011.

Wauwatosa is currently "a magnet" for new development right now because of improvements to Mayfair mall and the development of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's research park, McBride said. He expects more proposals for luxury apartments and opportunities for job growth.

Byrne, 37, has been quoted saying she seeks better communication between Wauwatosa businesses, infrastructures and schools. Because of her background in education, she has "a big picture view of how schools and businesses are interrelated." Byrne is a graduate student in educational policy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and formerly served as an intern in the office of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Stippich said last month that "our first goal (as a city) must be to focus on raising revenue through positive, sensible development that improves the tax base. This focus will create relief for all the citizens while improving the overall financial health of Wauwatosa."

Stippich is vocal about his passion for District 1's "unique, vibrant and alive" neighborhoods that are "much more than the houses and buildings within a geographic border." To continue improving the community, Stippich hopes to address deferred capital projects such as sewer repair to help alleviate frequent sewer backups in districts 1 and 5.

Stippich is an owner and general counsel of Digital Intelligence, a local computer forensics firm and a partner in Stippich, Selin and Cain.

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