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Second Tosa alderman resigns

Three council seats vacant; Treis' seat could be filled soon

March 5, 2009

Another Wauwatosa Common Council member resigned in the past week just as a selection committee was looking to fill another aldermanic seat.

Eighth District Alderman Craig Maher unexpectedly left the council March 5 citing increased professional responsibilities and a frustration with recent votes among his reasons to step down after five years.

His decision to exit leaves the 8th District without representation, at least until Tuesday, March 17, when the council will vote on appointing former Milwaukee County development director Robert Dennik to replace Tom Treis, who died in December.

Maher said he considered staying on the council for a few months while the a new alderman was chosen, noting that the timing of his departure brings the total of empty council seats to three on the 16-seat body.

Frustration with council

He works as a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh professor, recently becoming public administration department chairman, a position that requires him to spend more time on campus.

In addition to trying to balance work, family and community commitments, Maher expressed frustration with recent council actions.

"I don't think I'm being effective," he said. "Clearly, the positions I was taking were not being heard, or I was in the minority most of the time, and that gets tiring."

Maher served as Budget & Finance Committee chairman, a position that would lead the city through a difficult 2010 budgeting process. It would not be in the city's best interest for him to get too deeply involved in discussions only to up and leave, Maher said.

Candidates offer silver lining

Maher cited the pool of qualified candidates vying for Treis' seat as a silver lining to the council vacancies.

"There are some very smart people who have applied," he said.

After interviewing seven applicants March 9, a committee of five aldermen recommend Dennik to represent the 8th District until April 2010.

Dennik's background in lobbying at the local, state and federal levels, experience in county government and knowledge about policy and procedure impressed the committee. He works as vice president of business development for VJS Construction Service and serves on the Milwaukee County Research Park board.

Dennik received three votes to the two garnered by runner-up Thomas Lutzow, chief executive officer for Independent Care Health Plan.

Candidates who did not make the cut still have a chance to sit on the council as Maher's replacement.

"We hope to see you here again," Alderwoman Linda Organ told the applicants.

She also questioned whether the committee should immediately make a second recommendation to save money and time.

Committee Chairman Thomas Herzog said only one recommendation would be made citing concern that not enough time was available to properly notice Maher's vacancy.

"We were only charged to fill Alderman Treis' position," he said.

Stefanie Scott can be reached at (262) 446-6618.

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