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Helping North Avenue key to 1st District's success

Candidates want city involvement

March 17, 2010

As the race for District 1 alderman heads into its final weeks, both candidates agree on at least one thing: the success of East Town's North Avenue business district is central to the health of the community.

Incumbent Peter Donegan and challenger John Sandvik are vying to represent District 1 on the Common Council for the next four years. Residents will choose their next alderman April 6.

Street strategies needed

Donegan has lived off North Avenue and watched its struggles for 22 years. He has supported using grant funds received by the city to help with redevelopment efforts there.

"I think North Avenue is OK, but fragile," he said. "I don't believe we will get what we want on North Avenue without the city's involvement."

Putting together parcels of land that are attractive to developers will be difficult, but key to the corridor's success, Donegan said.

Sandvik serves on the board of the North Avenue Neighborhood Alliance, a volunteer group that promotes the business district's shops to consumers, helps business owners and managers network and problem-solve, and takes a hand in recruiting new businesses. He sees momentum building in terms of revitalization, but knows there is a lot of work yet to do. He points to the Alliance's efforts to bring restaurant Juniper 61 to North Avenue as evidence that the district can compete for quality businesses.

But he foresees other businesses on the street not being able to make it, and he wants the city and Alliance to plan for those vacancies so buildings don't stay empty too long.

"I want us to (have) things in our back pocket, so we're ahead of the game and have an idea of what people would like to see go in when an opening does occur," he said.

Candidates see needs

Sandvik said he felt compelled to run because "I want our district to be better represented," adding that in talking with neighbors he found out many don't know who their aldermen are.

Without a medical center, mall or large park, he worries the populous District 1 gets overlooked at times.

"We don't have any big-ticket items to keep us on the mind of the Common Council," Sandvik said.

Donegan believes he has made an impact. Specifically, he said, he pushed for improvements at Hart Park, helped reduce the cost of the new fire station by $1 million and helped manage the cost of employee benefits.

He calls employee compensation the primary reason he is seeking re-election.

As chairman of the Employee Relations Committee, if re-elected, he would provide direction as bargaining for union contracts begins this fall. He said he wants employees contributing more to their benefits or making concessions on wages so the city can spend more on fixing streets and sewers.

"The wage level of many positions are way over market," Donegan said. "Health insurance benefits, in particular, represent a terrible inequity compared to what the residents we serve get."

Peter Donegan (i)

ADDRESS: 2202 N. 73rd St.

AGE: 57

CIVIC PRIDE: elected alderman 2006

JOB: insurance sales and marketing manager, CUNA Mutual Group

EDUCATION: master's in urban affairs, St. Louis University

CONTACT: (414) 259-8973, pdonegan@wi.rr.com

John Sandvik

ADDRESS: 2144 N. 62nd St.

AGE: 46

CIVIC PRIDE: North Avenue Neighborhood Alliance, Wauwatosa Rotary Club, Pabst Park Neighborhood Association

JOB: mutual funds and investments manager

EDUCATION: bachelor's in business, UW-Stevens Point

CONTACT: (414) 704-6624, johnsandvik@yahoo.com

Find your district

• visit Wauwatosa.net and click on "Elected Officials"

• call the city clerk, (414) 479-8921

• visit the Wisconsin Voter Public Access site, vpa.wi.gov

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