Shawn Reilly, Mayor Jeff Scrima,
Ald. Terry Thieme and Mike Volpano listen to a question
Wednesday night during a mayoral candidates’ forum held at
Carroll University campus.
Downtown businesses, taxes and the role of a mayor were among
the issues debated Wednesday as Waukesha’s four mayoral
candidates squared off before a crowd of several hundred people
at Carroll University.
Mayor Jeff Scrima is running for a second term of the city’s top
elected position against local attorney Shawn Reilly, Common
Council President Terry Thieme and corporate trainer Mike
In the opening
statement of the forum, Reilly came out swinging against Scrima,
lambasting the mayor’s decision-making and leadership.
In his opening
statement, Scrima thanked Reilly for using his name so many
times and then went on to compare himself to a quarterback.
countered by saying the city doesn’t need a quarterback, but a
his business acumen in his opening statement, likening running a
city to running a business.
business development, Reilly and Scrima briefly criticized one
another on the fate of the downtown Business Improvement
District, which was dismantled nearly a year ago.
Reilly said he
was sorry to see the BID go because “it served a useful
response, said he found Reilly’s comments “interesting” because
Reilly had a role in the dissolution of the BID board.
was given an opportunity to provide a rebuttal, took jabs at
Scrima for his role in assembling the BID board prior to the
Shawn Reilly, left, and Mayor Jeff Scrima shake hands as
Ald. Terry Thieme and Mike Volpano talk following the
mayoral candidates’ forum held Wednesday night at Carroll
downtown was a topic of conversation that cropped up several
times through questions concerning Freeman Friday Night Live,
the future of the Clarke Hotel property and local government’s
role in business development.
Reilly said he
would focus his efforts on the 11 commercial corridors
throughout the city - not just the downtown area. He pointed to
the Fox Run Shopping Center as one area on the city’s outskirts
that needs attention.
is the heart of the city,” Scrima said. “Cities are often
measured by the health of their downtown.”
He also touted
several new initiatives during his administration, including the
Thieme said he
would like to give equal attention toward all sections of the
city and pointed to the importance manufacturing plays in
Waukesha’s economy. “There is more to Waukesha than just the
downtown,” he said.
he believed a strong spirit of cooperation between all city
participants would yield positive results.
“We have to
create a synergy,” he said. “We have a tremendous talent pool in
this city. It’s a matter of bringing everyone together.”
On the topic
of taxes, responses varied slightly from one candidate to the
next. Thieme and Volpano each said they could not guarantee
taxes would be reduced. Thieme stressed carefully vetting
spending decisions, while Volpano said the focus instead should
be on recruiting residents and businesses.
Reilly said he
would work to keep taxation in line because “our taxpayers
demand no increase in their taxes.” Scrima, meanwhile, touted
his goal of keeping taxes in line with the rate of inflation
throughout his first term in office.
unanimously favored at least one item - the position of mayor
should be full-time, since the city has a full-time city
administrator on staff as well.
the different issues the city faces, Volpano said, “We have all
these departments working together. Without direction, how are
we going to get things done?”
“The mayor is
your ambassador,” Thieme said.
Scrima said he
viewed the mayor as an important function between the
legislative and judicial branches of city government. “The
position of mayor serves as a check and balance,” he said.
Waukesha is the state’s seventh largest city, Reilly said he
believed a full-time position was important. “It’s almost like
running an enormous business,” Reilly said.
forum, co-sponsored by Carroll and The Freeman, was the second
this week. Matthew Rosek, a partner with McCoy Leavitt Laskey
LLC emceed the forum. Freeman reporter Sarah Pryor and Carroll
faculty member Fred Beuttler moderated it.
Contributing: Mary Reardon, Freeman Staff