I have been mostly silent about the pending local elections because I think it's important for candidates to make their own case and voters to decide for themselves. Also, unlike the 2006 election, I consider both of the mayoral candidates to be well qualified. Thus, I will use this blog to make a few more or less neutral comments and have no intention to take a position for or against any candidate. I just think there are a few issues to clear up.
There is an old saying about elections that I've found to be true most of the time:
"A third of the voters always vote for the incumbent and a third never vote for the incumbent. The winner goes after the last third and he only needs half of them!"
Getting that last third is most easily done by using some hugely controversial topic that pops up at that time. Four years ago that was Capitol Heights, the mall area TIF district and the widening of Calhoun Road. I can't think of anything comparable this time around.
The two candidates have fought a clean fight and are both well qualified. They are not identical in personality, education or experience but I have no doubt that they both want what is best for Brookfield. Ald. Mark Nelson, a long time friend and former law partner of Ald. Ponto, has endorsed Ponto Ald. Rick Owen made a more low key endorsement (more on that at the end of this blog). Incumbent Mayor Speaker did not solicit endorsements. I think the citizens can appreciate that when both candidates are credible and both will be around after the election in some capacity, an alderman making an endorsement has a lot of risk and little reward.
By the way, there is one rumor that the reason Marcello endorsed Ponto is because he believes Ponto would be a one term mayor and retire, leaving the field wide open for Marcello to make another run in 2014.
I also want to compliment Brookfield News for the best campaign coverage I can recall in 10 years.
And here is a dubious endorsement for a hard core conservative like Ponto:
Here is a whole list of letters written to the Brookfield News endorsing one mayoral or aldermanic candidate or another: Brookfield News - Endorsement Letters
District 1 has incumbent Bill Carnell running for his second term. His challenger is former alderman Dick Brunner. Carnell has been running a much more vigorous and high profile campaign than Brunner. It will probably be enough for a comfortable winning margin.
District 2 has incumbent Bob Reddin running for his second term against perennial candidate Terry Halmstad. Reddin is a swing vote on the council while Halmstad appears to be quite radical.
District 3 has incumbent Jim Garvens running unopposed. I wish him well.
District 4 has incumbent Mark Nelson running against newcomer J. P. Murray. Ald. Nelson was elected Council President after only three years (first sworn in April 19, 2005 after a special election) in office, a rare feat and well deserved. I talked with Mr. Murray a couple of times and found him to have a sincere interest in the city and a lot of skills to offer. I don't expect Murray to win, but I hope he stays involved.
District 5 has incumbent Gary Mahkorn and challenger Sheila Buechel. Again, two well qualified candidates so you just can't go wrong. However, without some hot divisive issue to rally voters, it's difficult for a new comer like Buechel to win.
District 6 has incumbent Jerry Mellone and challenger Michael Loy. I have spoken to Mr. Loy several times and I think he has great potential. Again, without some huge reason to vote against the incumbent, the challenger has a tough time getting anywhere.
There was an incorrect claim made by "El Gato" on Dick Steinberg's blog when he stated,
"Mr. Loy is young, inexperienced, and not a taxpayer in Brookfield. That's the kind of alderman YOU want? Good grief!"
Mr. Loy does live in the Georgetown Square apartments on Wisconsin Avenue, but those buildings are taxed just like (almost) every other building in the city. It's all included in his rent. There was also a lot of nonsense in several blogs about Vince Kuttemperoor and his companies not paying property taxes and costing the city money, but that debunking is for another time. Given all the interest in attracting young families to Brookfield, creating a demand for the housing we already have, I think this sort of "young means you don't count" and "not really a resident" mentality is out of place and out of touch.
Dick Steinberg's blog had an incorrect statement by Ald. Jerry Mellone under the alias Im Thinking,
"Except for this election year, Mayor Speaker has asked for the maximum allowable increase."
In fact, in 2008 the levy was $454,000 under the state limit, in 2009 it was $104,000 under and in 2010 it was $1,400,000 under. There's a lot more to this, but that's another blog entry.
Dick Steinberg's blog also had Ald. Mellone/ImThinkin's statement of (emphasis added by me):
"My Brookfield Incentive Plan has been tabled twice. I will present it to the new Council."
A check of the January 19, 2010 Finance Committee minutes show:
"It was moved by Alderman Jerry Mellone, seconded by Alderman Nelson to table the item until such time as Alderman Jerry Mellone develops a more detailed proposal for this referral that takes into consideration commentary from the committee members."
and the February 2, 2010 Finance Committee minutes show:
"It was moved by Alderman Jerry Mellone, seconded by Alderman Nelson to table the item."
Just thought you might like to know who tabled the proposal and why. I look forward to reviewing it again.
District 7 incumbent Lisa Mellone running unopposed. I wish her well.
Common Council President
There is already some jockeying going on for Common Council President, an appointment made by a simple majority vote (8 of 14) of the aldermen at the first council meeting after the election (April 20). I heard that 1st District Ald. Dan Sutton thinks he has it wrapped up on what would be his third consecutive attempt.
The president's first task is his most important, at least until the mayor dies in office. That task is making committee appointments. Remember that the president may appoint himself to only one committee and to be that committee's chairman. Both of those things are subject to separate 2/3 confirmation votes by the aldermen. If Sutton or anyone else is elected president by his peers by less than 10 votes, he is not likely to get the chairman position. Up until about 15 (more or less) years ago, the president couldn't serve on any committees! The joke has always been that the only person who wants to be council president is the alderman who's too lazy to actually work. Expect a lot of backroom deal-cutting no matter who is elected president. If Ponto is elected mayor the vote will be made with 13 aldermen which is yet another unpredictable dynamic.
There is another rumor that the reason Ald. Rick Owen "endorsed" Ponto for mayor (Owen put a Ponto campaign sign in his front yard before the primary) was to gain support for Owen running for president. If Ponto wins, he'd have a mayor's endorsement. If Speaker wins, Owen would have Ponto and Nelson's vote, among others. Either way, it would leave Ponto with influence over the council president and agenda, to whatever extent the council president can influence the agenda.
Yet another rumor is that in 2012, then mid-term alderperson Lisa Mellone will run for council president to build her resume for her planned 2014 run for mayor. I guess that's two rumors.
Polls open Tuesday, April 6 at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m. Many absentee ballots have already been cast. Results will be posted in the City Hall lobby starting about 8:30 and it's usually all over by 9:15. I will have an election analysis blog after that, so check back Wednesday or so.