Embroiled in conflict over the Sileno quarry on the southeast corner of Burleigh and Lilly roads, it's no coincidence that Brookfield's first district is one of two in Brookfield to have a contested aldermanic race.
Alderman Bill Carnell, who represents residents in the northeast corner of Brookfield, will face Brookfield resident Andris Jaunberzins in the election April 1.
Jaunberzins, who has lived in the city for eight years, is an orthodontist who practices full time at his office at Mayfair Mall.
Carnell has held the seat since he first ran eight years ago after retiring from his position as the city's water utility operations supervisor.
Quarry clash provokes challenger
Jaunberzins said the main reason he decided to challenge Carnell was because he thought the Common Council should have found a way to stop Super Excavators' and Siepmann Group's former plans to use fill from the Zoo Interchange project to level out the Sileno quarry.
"They were willing to give up so easily, and that's not me," Jaunberzins said. "It should have been that they were battling more."
Carnell said the city's hands were tied under state law, which prevents municipalities from stopping companies from dumping fill from transportation sites in areas where the property owners agree to it.
"Siepmann had absolute right to dump there, and we were warned by several attorneys that if we interfered with their contract, we would be in line for a major, expensive lawsuit," Carnell said.
Jaunberzins signed a petition by Brookfield Residents Against the Dump in a successful direct-legislation attempt that required a referendum before the city could purchase the property for a park. This prompted Super Excavators and Siepmann Group to drop their plans.
Carnell said he is supportive of the current concept on the table for the site, put forth by Mark Regal and his family, who started the BRAD group and own the Regal Crest Village Apartments adjacent to the site. The proposal includes apartments and land for a conservancy or park, without dumping of fill.
"I'm trying to make it right now," Carnell said. "I think we need to do what the residents want there: have development that's minimally invasive, and keep the area as natural and pristine as possible."
Jaunberzins said although he worked with BRAD to acquire petition signatures, he does not consider himself a member or ally of the group. Not having seen details of the Regals' plan, he would not say whether he supported it.
"I would say we need to not jump to any conclusions," Jaunberzins said. "A lot of times you run from the wolf and fall on a bear."
But Jaunberzins said he does believe he has supporters among the BRAD group.
"Talking to people involved with BRAD, they are supportive of me running," Jaunberzins. "It's one of those things that, a lot of people were unhappy and thinking about running, but when it comes to push, I'm the only one challenging in our district."
Beyond the quarry
While Carnell prepared a handout outlining his priorities in office, Jaunberzins had a different response when asked what issues he plans to address for his district: "Honestly, I'm not sure."
Born and raised in Latvia, Jaunberzins said he became a U.S. citizen a year and half ago, which encouraged him to become more involved in politics.
"That opens it up for me to express my opinion and be more involved," he said. "I've never done anything like this."
Jaunberzins said frankly he doesn't know if he is the best person for the job, but, he said, "We need to change the folks that are currently there.
"When I tried to look it up online, it wasn't clear what it all entailed. But I understand you have to represent your community, and that's what I hope to accomplish."
Carnell, who worked as the city's water utility operations supervisor for 29 years and served on the Elmbrook School Board for eight years before running for alderman, has delineated goals for another term with Dan Sutton, the other alderman representing the first district.
"Dan Sutton and I are really good partners, and we can be very responsive to the needs of residents," he said.
Carnell said his stop priority is to "hold taxes in check" while preserving services. As a member of the Finance Committee, he said he has routinely passed minimal tax increases. In November, the city adopted the smallest levy increase in decades, at .44 percent.
In addition to budget concerns, Carnell said he plans to keep a close eye on the development of Capitol Drive, which runs through his district. Although he said it's important to attract new businesses to contribute to the tax base, he will be wary of the scope.
"You have to be constantly vigilant that businesses don't negatively affect residents," Carnell said. "Capitol Drive cannot become another Bluemound Road."
Residents in the first district can vote in the aldermanic election April 1 at Immanuel Baptist Church, 4250 N. 137th St. Also on the ballot will be races for mayor, school board, the Court of Appeals and Circuit Court.
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