Prior to yesterday’s elections, I had posted interviews that I did with the four candidates for the Village Board. I thought it would be appropriate to give my opinion on the results of that race, and the race for the school board seats.VILLAGE BOARD
The top vote getter for the Village Board was Patrick Linnane (993 votes).
I was not surprised by Patrick’s being elected, he by far ran the best and most aggressive campaign of all the candidates.
Having the opportunity to talk in depth with Patrick on more than one occasion, I was impressed by his desire to learn about the issues in depth.
I think his experience in government and non profit work, gives him a leg up on most first time politicians, as he has a good understanding of the processes involved. His experience in developing partnerships between different government entities should be especially helpful.
Ellen Eckman was re-elected for a fourth term with 859 votes. Ms Eckman, in my opinion has not shown much initiative or astuteness during her previous terms, but has been more of a get along member of the board. Having name recognition, and sticking with generalities at forums, she was probably considered a safe choice by voters.
Donald Ford and Timothy Wick were not elected, and had 307 and 306 votes respectively.
Mr Ford is an experienced business executive. He is also a CPA, and I think that with his accounting background, he would have brought more depth to the board in assessing the economics of the village. He did not run a very aggressive campaign, but if he continues his interest in politics, perhaps this was a good first experience for him.
Tim Wick probably has the best grasp of the issues in the village. His past experience as a two term board member, his life long residency in Shorewood, and being a local business owner in Shorewood gives him a deeper understanding of how the village is affected by board decisions. Unfortunately, Mr Wick did not run a very aggressive campaign either, electing not to participate in any of the three public forums. He has a reputation for calling them as he sees them, and in the world of politics, that is not necessarily a recipe for success in being elected.
In the school board race, the two newbies, Colin Plese and Rob Reinhoffer (875 & 708 votes respectively) unseated veteran school board member John Carlton who had 659 votes.
I attended one of the forums for the school board candidates, and also attended a citizens meeting on school finances.
Without a doubt, John Carlton was the most knowledgeable of the three candidates. Both Plese and Reinhoffer have steep learning curves ahead of them.
I confess that after seeing the candidates at that forum, I basically did not think it would make any difference who was elected!
The challenge that the Shorewood Schools face is that the building are only 65% utilized, and our student population is continuing to decline.
The largest part of our property tax bill is for the schools --- and that is despite the fact that only 61% of the cost of our schools comes from our property taxes. The rest of the funds come primarily from the state and federal governments.
If the Shorewood community wants to continue down the path of very high expenses for a small school system, than there is really nothing that has to be done ---- we are on that path already.
However, if the Shorewood community would like to continue to provide a great education, at a reasonable cost, than there are some hard decisions to be made, and there has to be the will of the school board members to at least discuss the options in an open dialogue.
What I heard from the school board candidates was what I considered to be a lot of yada, yada, yada …………….. generalities, and cheer leading.
None of the candidates stepped on any of the third rail issues, that I think communities like Shorewood will have to consider to bring costs in line with enrollment:
- Closing of school buildings, which are only utilized at 65% capacity, but require costs in maintenance, etc.
- Larger class sizes, increasing the ratio of pupils to teachers, to a point at which education does not suffer, but staffing costs are reduced.
- Consolidation with other school district(s) --- virtually all of our neighbors are in the same situation --- Whitefish Bay, Fox Point, etc. They all have drastically reduced student populations, high vacancies in their school buildings, and multiple costs for administration, with each having its own administrative staff at very high costs, especially on a per pupil ratio.
THOSE ARE MY THOUGHTS ……………….WHAT DO YOU THINK? YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!