Incumbent Bill Driscoll is being challenged by Don Cosentine and Michael Gasper in the Feb. 21 for the Ward 3 alderman seat on the Port Washington Common Council, and all three men have strong opinions on the future of building developments and projects in the city.
Ozaukee Now had a chance to sit down and talk with each of the candidates. Each candidate was given a general guideline of a 50-word limit person.
Address: 812 Noridge Trail, Port Washington
Political history: Alderman District 3 (2013- present), Harbour Commission, Personnel Committee, Commission on Aging, BID Board, Ad-Hoc Senior Center Committee
Phone number: 414-788-1251
How important is it to have government and business experience like yours when serving on the Common Council?
I think it's critical. People want experience. In today's climate, Port Washington needs to stay in the black. We have been able to lower taxes while still maintaining city services. My business experience always comes into play as I handle profits and losses, and that kind of experience is lacking in government today.
In your opinion, what are the main issues that needed to be addressed in the city in the upcoming year?
We must maintain growth. If we don't grow our tax base, we will run out of money. The school's referendum added a lot to taxes, so new developments and businesses need to continue.
When it comes to new developments, how do you and the council make decisions that are best for the city?
The worst thing we can do is try to make everyone happy. An alderman's job is to look at what's necessary. We have to be educated on every plan that is presented to us, and that's not easy. I have to be as informed as possible. At least 100 hours went into the decision regarding the recent Blues Factory project. At the same time, it is important to listen to people and their opinions on these projects and get their feedback.
Address: 518 Brentwood Court, Port Washington
Phone number: 262-284-3602
Political history: Review Board for taxes
Your opponent Bill Driscoll has a considerable amount of experience involved with city government. What experience do you have that make you feel qualified for the council?
I've worked in construction my entire life working with contractors. This will be useful with the number of projects and developments coming through Port. Some of these projects end up getting approved while the people don't feel like getting input.
How would you improve communications between the general public and the council?
We have to be careful about what is approved. I would like to see developments that benefit residents more than tourists and visitors. If elected, I would call people and ask their opinions before I make a decision.
What is your vision and goals for future developments and projects in Port Washington?
I know that it takes time for developers to do it, but they need to hear more from the public. I would suggest smaller developments rather than these large complexes. We certainly have enough apartments. I don't think we necessarily need to put in more.
Address: 514 W. Chestnut St., Port Washington
Phone number: N/A
Political history: None
You are not only the youngest candidate, but you are also the least experienced in government involvement. How does that factor into your campaign?
You don't get experience without trying to get elected. I might have a different outsider's perspective, but my background as a civil engineer and my work with highway projects will help me address the concerns within the city.
When it comes to these developments, how important is public opinion?
People are unsure about these projects, and the council has not done a great job in communicating these projects. In terms of the Blues Factory, is there a compelling reason to have it replace a parking lot or could it be in a different location? As far as other developments, I would rather see smaller projects pitched. We need all types of housing in the city. The biggest concern is that people are protective of the downtown identity and they want to make sure that it's not compromised by new buildings.
There's been a lot of talk from all three candidates about the topic of new developments. Do you see other decision-making by the council that needs to be improved?
I have no problem with what most of the council does. They're not doing anything wrong. But the decision-making on these developments could be done better, and I believe that I can provide that.