Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Internet exclusive - Town candidates respond

March 31, 2011

Here is additional candidate responses that were not printed in the March 31 edition of the Lake Geneva Regional News.

Joe Kopecky challenges Dan Lauderdale (I) for the Geneva Town Chairman position

Q: Has your experience in public office changed your views on the position you seek? What did you think the job was before you were first elected to it? Has your working experience changed your perception of it? Has it opened your eyes to new issues? If so, what are they? (limit 200 words)

Lauderdale: I have been involved in various forms of public service for the past 27 years. By now, I have learned of what is expected of a public servant. When I sought office in 2007, I knew exactly what would be expected of me. The job is not about my views but rather is about my representation of the views of the citizens residing within the town. I believe that I have served fairly and impartially over the past four years and I promise to continue similar service for the next two. Recently, the state has seemingly passed its debt upon our employees and the town. The impact of those shared revenue cuts and morale of our employee staff concerns me. While the town has been fiscally responsible, the state was not doing so. Now their problem has become our problem and this is a challenge for the future. This administration has prudently handled several adversities in the past year. I am confident that my leadership has contributed greatly toward the positive results that all of these adversities presented us. These solutions to the problems came with no litigation, or even a threat thereof. Next, we must realize the impact of the shared revenue cuts we may endure. I am confident in our ability to do so in a fiscally responsible manner, much the same as has been done for the past four years.

Kopecky: My experience in public office has defined the position I seek and I am fully aware of what the job entails. I have the personal and professional tools and understanding to perform the duties of town chairman. I am not surprised by the job as I understand the responsibilities and realities of it and I am ready to get back to work with and for the Town of Geneva residents.

Loomer vs. Decker - Geneva Supervisor No. 1

Q: Two things still making headlines in your town are the proposed substation and Town Hall project. Are these good ideas? Is one good, but not the other? Why/why not? (limit 200 words)

Decker: The data supporting the need for a substation to improve electrical reliability, especially for the south side of the township, is well documented. The only question involves the issue on where to build the substation. The electrical company's representatives "jumped the gun" and bought property on a site in a residential area near Lake Como that was unacceptable to virtually everyone, including myself. Other sites are now being evaluated and I would support public hearings to consider further concerns before a decision is made.

If your question is referring to the ongoing investigation into the opportunities for a new emergency services (fire/ambulance) facility, a majority of the voters asked for that investigation at a 2006 Town Hall meeting. The town is simply complying with that request and I support further investigation.

Regarding the New Town Hall, there is definitely a lot of misinformation floating around! The recent fire and subsequent inspection by the state building inspector has uncovered additional building deficiencies/liabilities that must be resolved. After one year of objective research, the Ad Hoc Committee has simply recommended researching several different options. One option will always be to do nothing! On the remaining options, sufficient detail and expected costs will be identified so as to let voters make an informed decision. I have read the report and attended a presentation by the committee studying this issue. Many people's concerns would be answered if they did the same. There is still considerable research to be done. Let the committee finish their job, educate the voters and decide this issue with a referendum.

Loomer: The substation seems to be a thorn in the town's side. No one wants it close to them for numerous reasons. I think the power company needs to educate the involved town residents of the safety and nonintrusive elements of said substation. Everyone seems concerned with the "what would happen if" situations. The Town Hall is a different issue. Do I think we need a new Town Hall? Yes! Do I think the town taxpayers at this time can afford a new Town Hall? No! I feel that the Town Board has to develop a long-range financial plan to cover the cost of said new Town Hall, then budget the moneys so that borrowed moneys will not affect the mill rate, read: no tax increase. A plan like this would be easier to sell to the town residents. We definitely need more space for all the different departments and everything in the building is old and warn out, so the need is there. All we need is the proper financial plan to build, but not until!

Millard (I) vs. Daily - Geneva Supervisor No. 2

Q: The phrase 'transparency in government' often gets thrown around along the campaign trail. How transparent is your town's government? Can it improve? Please use examples.

Daily: I believe transparency is a political term for communication. Most people believe they are good communicators and most of those listening to them think they are not. The current Town Board puts out information, but it doesn't reach their constituents. The website is good, but I am skeptical of how many people use it. I believe the Regional News does a good job as well. Beyond these media outlets, I don't feel the town does a very good job. Ask yourself how was the communication for the proposed substation? The plan for a new Town Hall? The recent change in our EMT service from Lake Geneva Fire Department to Paratech? How much do you know about those issues? We can improve and I will pursue new means of communications. 1) Place Town Board meeting agenda in the Shopper Magazine, 2) Create e-mail "blasts" of board meeting minutes to residents who want them, 3) Encourage coverage of board meetings by the Elkhorn Independent, 4) provide contact information for constituents to contact me personally. The residents can do their part by getting to know the supervisors and attending meetings. An informed and active constituency will produce a more cohesive town of Geneva community.

Millard: We are open to all news media who can get "the word out" for the town. We welcome area media, such as the Lake Geneva Regional News, Walworth County Gazette and the Elkhorn Independent to publish meetings, news stories and any issues that may be taking place in the town. We not only wait for them to approach us, but we will bring to their attention items needing to be communicated to the public.

Q: Two things still making headlines in your town are the proposed substation and Town Hall project. Are these good ideas? Is one good, but not the other? Why/why not? (limit 200 words)

Millard: I believe both projects have legitimate concerns. We have to take steps to do what is needed. It may not be a popular decision at this time, but it is necessary to gather as much information as we can to present the facts.

Daily: I do not believe the proposed substation and a new Town Hall are bad ideas. I do, however, believe that neither are good ideas at this time. I say this based on a couple different reasons. First, the economy, while some slight improvement might be indicated, we still see our friends and neighbors losing their jobs, facing home foreclosures and having difficulty feeding their families. I believe a tax increase of any kind puts an additional hardship on all of us at this time. The only tax increase my conscience would let me vote for at this time is to maintain essential and necessary services we are currently providing. My second reason is merely a couple questions regarding these issues. 1. Did we ask the residents of the town of Geneva for their opinion? 2. Did we present all the reasons why we should proceed with these plans? 3. Have we proven that there are no viable alternatives to these plans? In conversations with our neighbors, I cannot ascertain that these questions have been answered. Until I can be shown that the majority of the people in the town of Geneva approve of these two projects, I will have to cast a "no" vote.

Polock vs. Weiss (I) in race for Linn Town Chairman

Q: What is the biggest mistake your government has made in the last two years? Would you have seen it coming? How would you have reacted/rectified the situation? (limit 200 words)

Weiss: Since becoming chairman in mid 2010, our township has been running smoothly. I am not an individual who takes shots at previous elected officials when issues that arose in the past have been addressed, rectified and resolved. Can we all learn from previous actions and situations? Absolutely! With that being said, over the past two years our tax rate has increased less than 3 percent, we paid off our one outstanding debt and our reserve balance has increased. Looking around at other communities this speaks volumes. However, the total amount of tax collected by the town for 2011 will decrease by $24,000 due to a $19 million decrease in assessed valuation. While your township is in a strong financial position, it is paramount that at this time the town have a strong, fiscally responsible leader. Our challenge going forward will be to do more with less because it appears that assessed valuations may again decrease this year. I will continue to build strong relationships with our neighboring communities and attempt to continue discussions on border agreements as well as shared services.

Polyock: One of the biggest mistakes made by the board was in granting the large raises to the Police Department. Three percent, three percent and three percent, when most areas were working with 1-1/2 to 2 percent. The board hired a negotiator and this was the best he could do? Yes, I could have seen this coming. Negotiating on our own and holding firm would have done better for the town. Along with this is the over $200,000 spent in settling the discrimination suit and dealing with the lawn mower incident.