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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Conflict of interest? Schellinger for County Supervisor & Brookfield Alderman with left-over Schellinger for Assembly signs

2012, Brookfield, Elections

We should be used to it by now: It's spring election time and Brookfield's perennial candidate Tom Schellinger's, generic campaign signs are popping up on the main drags in southeast Brookfield--District 7. This go around, Tom is running for 2 offices at once!

Which ones? After all, you can't tell by just looking at his signs, for they just simply state, Vote Schellinger. He is running for Waukesha County Supervisor and trying again to regain his Brookfield District 7 Aldermanic seat.

Holding both offices is not against the rules; it is allowed. But I did question that arrangement causing a conflict of interest for an Alderman/Supervisor when representing their constituents. In a recent conversation with Waukesha D.A. Brad Schimel, he mentioned the dual role does present a possible conflict of interest, as Kathleen Cummings is finding out.

In fact, when I met Waukesha County Supervisor and Waukesha Alderman Kathleen Cummings at the Folk Fair last fall, I did wonder how that arrangement would work, should City issues conflict with County. (We were seated across from each other at the common seating in the food area and started chatting. She mentioned she was both a Supervisor and Alderman.) As I sat there listening, I wondered which group one would side with if the interest of the City differed from that of the County?

Though she thought it was a great opportunity at the time, she is now in a difficult spot because the City of Waukesha Police Chief is opposed to joining in with the County's Dispatch Communications Center. Cummings stated last month she "had been against joint dispatch but is willing to consider because of the county's new software..." This month she says she "is reviewing the information" though the Waukesha Police Chief still doesn't want the consolidation.

I do not bring this up to pick on Ms. Cummings (she seemed nice enough) but rather to illustrate how someone serving 2 masters--the City and the County--could be conflicted as to which group they are representing. I am trying to avoid that happening in my district.

Schellinger will be elected on April 3rd as District 20 County Supervisor, because he is running unopposed in that race. And thankfully, the likelihood of him also prevailing in his attempt to win back his job as District 7 Brookfield Alderman, against incumbent Renee Lowerr, is very remote. Still, I don't take anything for granted. If he would prevail, I believe it could create a conflict of interest, because his newly outlined Waukesha County District 20 area includes all of Brookfield District 7.

As I mentioned in the title, Schellinger is using some old Schellinger for Assembly signs in this campaign. Now that was one effort I didn't remember. I do remember most of his other attempts though. However, his race for 2 offices this go round can't top his 3 at once try in 2006: Waukesha County Supervisor, Brookfield Alderman, and Mayor of Brookfield.

But 6 years ago, at least he was opposed in each race. Even back then, Journal Sentinel columnist Laurel Walker poked fun at his efforts in a piece titled, If at first you don't succeed, run again from Dec. 3, 2005.

Laurel opened that column, "In one of my columns last week, I tried to encouraged civic-minded individuals to think about running for public office in local government... ...But I wasn't exactly advocating that anyone take on two at once. And certainly not three." Then she added, "It's not like he needs practice. Schellinger is fast becoming Waukesha County's own Harold Stassen."

She gave a tabulation of his past attempts, many I was unaware of, since I really didn't follow area politics until 2003. "He lost races for Brookfield mayor in 1998 and 2002, State Senate in 2001, State Assembly in 2002 and Waukesha County Supervisor in 2004. He also was passed over for appointment to a vacant County Board seat this year." (He finally won Supervisor in 2006 over appointee Barb Roncke, the same year he lost to Alderman Lisa Mellone and Mayor Jeff Speaker. He lost again in 2008 to Alderman Renee Lowerr.)

I think the signs Schellinger is still using date back to that 2002 Assembly try mentioned above or earlier, rather than his 2010 attempt against Paul Farrow for the 98th? (It is difficult to say with all the stickers and differing races noted in the disclaimer area.)

Still not satisfied, though already our County Supervisor, in fall of 2011 he also applied for Alderman Lisa Mellone's job when she was required to resign her seat in order to apply for the job of City Clerk. Thankfully, the city reappointed Lisa. (She is also on the April 3rd ballot, unopposed, for the remainder of her term.)

As for this election cycle, isn't holding one office enough, Tom? I sure hope so.

Come back, Lisa Mellone, District 7 needs you!

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