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Incumbents lose out in aldermanic races

Narrow margins mean results could change as absentee ballots counted

April 4, 2012

Three new aldermen will join a new mayor in governing Wauwatosa.

Aldermanic challengers Greg Walz-Chojnacki in the 3rd District and Joel Tilleson in the 5th District unseated incumbents Jacqueline Jay and Michael Walsh, respectively, Tuesday.

Jim Moldenhauer beat Jeffrey Kroll for the 1st District seat being vacated by Linda Nikcevich.

The vote totals, according to unofficial results Tuesday:

DISTRICT 1

Jim Moldenhauer 816

Jeffrey Kroll 778

DISTRICT 3

Greg Walz-Chojnacki 746

Jacqueline Jay (i) 728

DISTRICT 5

Joel Tilleson 522

Michael Walsh (i) 513

In each case, the margins of victory were slim.

For example, only nine votes clinched the win for Tilleson.

There have been no requests for a recount, but absentee ballots postmarked by April 3 will continue to come in this week and could have a bearing on results, City Clerk Carla Ledesma said.

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

Aggressive campaign

Moldenhauer credits "a very aggressive ground game" with three campaign handouts going out to 1st District residents as the race drew to its end.

His campaign platform, which addressed crime, economic development, preserving greenspaces and fiscal responsibility, resonated with voters, he said.

"I ran on a campaign of holding the line on property taxes until prop erty values improve," he said.

Moldenhauer said he'll take some time to get familiar with the workings of City Hall. However, he has pledged to knock on every door in his district on a yearly basis to keep in touch with constituents.

Power line stances differ

Walz-Chojnacki said a different stand on power line placement than his opponent may have won him some votes. He supports a resolution by the Common Council that calls for burying the lines and limiting where they can be placed. The resolution came after outcry from residents who worried about health, aesthetic and environmental impacts of power lines in their neighborhoods and green spaces.

Jay voted against the resolution saying she needed to stand behind the businesses in her district that are driving the need for power on the County Grounds. She couldn't be reached for comment after the election.

Walz-Chojnacki said he will work with the state to mitigate traffic problems related to the upcoming Zoo Interchange reconstruction.

"There's going to be traffic spillover and people in our district are already dealing with drivers taking shortcuts through neighborhoods. We have to make sure our roads aren't abused during that time," he said.

Message of change

Tilleson would like to think that residents of the 5th District were inspired by his message, one that included opposition to the O'Reilly Auto Parts moving into East Tosa, an urgency to improve the traffic flow problems on North Avenue and a need to make sure there's enough money in the Police Department budget to have a patrol officer in his district at all times.

However, he could see how Tuesday's results might be more about a simple desire for change.

"There's been sort of an anti-incumbent trend at all levels of government," he said.

There's also been a concern that the council is becoming too political, he added.

Walsh, who could not be reached for comment, has had a leadership role on the council, serving as chairman of the city's Budget and Finance Committee and sitting on the newly formed Community Development Authority.

Tilleson and Walsh watched together as the results came in and his opponent "was very gracious," Tilleson said.

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