Mike Morgan and Jason Kofroth are running against each other for 7th District alderman in the April 1 election.
Morgan, of 12147 Meadow Court, is a communications and marketing professional. He ran for 4th District Milwaukee County supervisor in 1989.
Jason Kofroth, of 2101 N. 116th St., works in financial services for BMO Global Asset Management.
Here are their answers to questions posed by NOW:
Why are you running?
Kofroth: I love the city of Wauwatosa. My wife and I chose it to raise our family. I now want to serve my community and be a part of moving Wauwatosa forward. The city has been dealing with tough decisions related to the budget and new developments. I believe that my education and training has prepared me to be an advocate for the residents of Wauwatosa, pass a responsible budget and be a voice for the residents who are affected by new developments.
Morgan:I'm running for Wauwatosa District 7 alderman to use my years of community service experience and communication skills to continue the positive momentum in Wauwatosa as a competitive community based on its rich and valuable heritage. We need to focus on balanced commercial, infrastructure and residential growth to give residents the best value for their tax dollars.
The 2015 city budget is likely to be tight, and city officials have warned that it may mean cutting services. How would you address this problem?
Morgan: We need to look at all opportunities for efficiency, cost savings and areas of continuous improvement in the Wauwatosa city budget while preserving the services that are most valued by the community. I am willing to work with residents, the council and the city to gain input and make any tough decisions that might be necessary. Just like many families and businesses in Wauwatosa, the city needs to look closely at the budget and be willing to eliminate unnecessary spending. I would work for balanced and creative solutions in closely reviewing all city programs and services for better ways to operate, while seeking to increase the tax base and find other ways to provide more revenue to Wauwatosa.
Kofroth: I will address this problem by looking at the expenditures that the city has. When the city has a gap between the revenue and expenditures then the city needs to look at ways to reduce expenses. The city has done a good job of creating efficiencies without cutting services. That needs to continue in the 2015 budget. The city needs to find the most efficient ways to spend the taxpayers' money. I will never advocate for raising taxes or cutting essential services when the city is dealing with a tight budget.
What is the biggest challenge facing the city, aside from the budget, and how would you hope to address it?
Kofroth: I believe the biggest challenge facing the city is the redevelopment of vacant or underutilized properties. The city does not have open space to develop, it needs to redevelop properties that are run down or abandoned. This can be done by finding responsible developers that will meet the needs of the city and the residents. The residents of the city will benefit because of the increase in revenue and it will help keep the property taxes lower on residential properties. The city does need to tread lightly with redevelopment to minimize negative effects on residents.
Morgan: I believe that improving communication with residents is the major challenge facing Wauwatosa. When the city most effectively communicates and listens to residents' and employees' concerns while being responsive through various channels, then other areas and operations of city government will also improve and run smoothly. If the city can better communicate upcoming issues to residents, employees and businesses, it will make the decision-making process easier and more open. Citizens won't always get the answer that they want from the city, but they should expect to have a proper voice and be heard in the process
When a development proposal is opposed by neighborhood residents, how will you decide which side to support?
Morgan: It's critical that each proposed commercial development in Wauwatosa be carefully evaluated on its own merits to provide the most benefit to the city and residents. We need to balance the need for commercial growth, which increases the tax base, with the benefit of protecting the unique nature of our residential neighborhoods. If both sides are allowed to best present their issues and the city listens, then we should be able to make the best decisions. In some cases, local residents, developers and city officials must agree on comprises that are best for the city as a whole.
Kofroth: Expanding the tax base is important. Wauwatosa does not have the luxury of open space to develop. Most development is actually redevelopment of property that is already on the tax rolls. The residents of Wauwatosa are what make it such a great place to live. The residents should be able to voice their opinion and their opinions should be heard and taken into account with any development decision. If I am elected to the council I will do my best to support developments that have the approval of the residents who will be affected the most.
What are the major issues affecting your district?
Kofroth: The bike/pedestrian plan will have a big impact on the 7th District, more specifically the sidewalks proposed on 116th, 124th and Center. I agree with the recent changes made to the bike/pedestrian plan. The residents who will be affected by the sidewalks should be able to vote on whether to install sidewalks. It should not be forced onto the residents because of the interests of people in other districts.
Morgan: As such a great place to live and work, our area on the west side of Wauwatosa needs to more positively promote its unique attributes, like location, culture, environment and heritage. We should take advantage of our diverse resources to attract the best mix of residents and businesses. I support reasonable and balanced transportation options for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians with proper input from district residents. Specifically, I would support forming a committee of local residents and businesses to help create a better identity and brand to most proactively promote all the wonderful community assets on the west side of Wauwatosa, and specifically in our district.
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