Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

City elections shaping up

by Lisa Seiser

December 29, 2011

The muddy waters of the upcoming local spring election in Lake Geneva are starting to clear just a bit.

It appears there might be a few races up in the air as the city election approaches in April. However, there still are several more days until the deadline.

Nomination papers and more information about the 2011 spring election can be obtained from the City Clerk’s office. Nomination papers are due Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 5 p.m. at the City Clerk’s office. Notification of noncandidacy papers were due at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 27.

So far, here is a rundown of what has happened.

The biggest news has been Mayor Jim Connors deciding to run for re-election, while Second District incumbent Tom Hartz, Fourth District incumbent Frank Marsala and First District incumbent Todd Krause have all decided not to seek re-election.

So far it appears Connors will run for re-election unopposed. City Clerk Michael Hawes said nobody has come into his office seeking papers, nor has anyone shown interest in running against the incumbent. Connors has filed his nomination papers, including signatures, and is set to run for his second term.

Although Hartz is on his way out, he was complimentary about Connors’ work as mayor.

“I am thrilled he is running again,” Hartz said. “I think he has been a fabulous mayor. He really comes prepared to the meetings and is very balanced in his approach. He is a very thoughtful guy.”

Connors told the Regional News about two weeks ago that he spent time evaluating and decided to run again. He believed the city had taken strides forward and he wanted to continue to help lead that effort.

“He came in a time when things were pretty nuts,” Hartz said about the previous council. “Now, it is pretty quiet and productive.”

Krause, waited until the

last moments to make a decision. As of Tuesday afternoon, just a couple hours before the noncandidacy filing requirement, he had not yet decided, according to Hawes.

Shortly after 4 p.m., Hawes reported Krause came in to file his noncandidacy papers.

Krause, a longtime alderman, was unavailable for comment at presstime, which was just minutes after he filed his noncandidacy papers Tuesday.

Nobody else has taken out circulation papers for the First District seat.

In the Second District, Hartz decided weeks ago he would not run for a second term. Now, two could be vying for his spot, including a former alderwoman.

Hartz said Tuesday he filed early because he wanted to give anyone who wanted to run for the spot enough time to decide and file their paperwork.

He said his decision revolved around the time commitment for the position. Hartz, who owns Simple Cafe and is opening another restaurant in Milwaukee, said he made a commitment to his business and to spend more time with his family.

“Being an alderman is a part-time job,” Hartz said. “There is an awful lot of preparation and research that goes into it. The meetings are the smaller parts of it.”

Hartz said if he’s going to be an elected official, he wants to make sure he is doing it as well as he can. He said he couldn’t commit to that with his responsibilities in his business and at home.

He was quick to point out he enjoyed his time, the work and the people. He also cited some accomplishments, including the parking system, the capital budget and resolving the lawsuits.

“We cleaned up a lot of things, but there are still some things we have left undone,” he said. “But I feel as if we have left a fresh slate for the next group coming in.”

He said he would like to see a few more things accomplished in the coming months, whether he’s in office or not.

Hartz said he wants the Geneva Theater saved and a good public relations and information effort made for the new parking meter system.

“There’s still a lot to do and there are people interested in doing it,” Hartz said.

“It was a very rewarding position and I hope others will want it as well,” he said.

And, it appears there are some locals who want to take on the responsibility and commitment. Political newcomer Jeff Wall, the retired Piggly Wiggly store manager, already has turned in his signatures and other required paperwork. He currently also works as a part-time parking meter attendant and has served on the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

Penny Roehrer, the former alderwoman whose e-mails and actions were cited numerous times in court documents in the federal lawsuits by developers Mirbeau and Geneva Ridge against the city of Lake Geneva, has obtained nomination papers, but has not yet returned the signatures to the city clerk. Those suits were settled in the past few weeks for a total of $3.85 million. In 2010, Roehrer was ousted in a primary while she was seeking her second term.

In the third, incumbent Bill Mott has turned in his signatures and is all set. Mott decided early he would run for a second term.

Dona Palmer, the wife of recalled alderman Tom Spellman, has obtained papers, but has not filed. Former alderman Dick Peterson, who currently resides in Burlington, but plans to move to Third District in time for the election, also has obtained papers, but has not returned any to Hawes. If there are three candidates in a race, there will be a February primary.

Marsala, who has served two terms on the council, decided he needs a break and will not run. That leaves the position to current Third District Alderwoman Arleen Krohn. A few months ago, the city’s districts were adjusted following the census. After the redistricting, Krohn’s residence ended up in the Fourth District. She had the choice to run for the Fourth District seat in the upcoming election or to finish her term in the Third District, which ends in 2011.

Krohn has taken out papers, but has not yet returned signatures. Current Plan Commissioner Sarah Hill took out papers, but had not filed anything as of Tuesday afternoon.

Marsala said Tuesday that it’s been an honor to serve, but he is ready to “bow out and take a break for now.”

“After the last election, I said I probably wouldn’t run again,” he said. “Arleen running against me had no influence either way.”

Marsala said his time has been very rewarding, especially the completion of the Edwards Boulevard extension and Wrigley Drive bridge. He said he is proud when he sees what the council has done during his years as an elected official.

He also said he believes things will slow down at the council because of the economy and the fact that many projects have been completed already.

“I am glad I served and had the opportunity to serve thanks to the voters,” Marsala said. “I will miss it because I do enjoy it. But I will remain involved in some way and will pay attention to what’s going on.”

Treasurer Teresa Klein and City Attorney Dan Draper are circulating papers, but have not yet turned them in.