Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
In politics, the incumbent has decided advantages: name recognition, experience, a record to run on.
When an incumbent loses an election, it’s generally big news. When two incumbents lose, especially in a small city like Franklin, the news is huge.
Incumbent Franklin aldermen Alan Hammelman and Peter Kosovich were defeated in the April elections, each by narrow margins. Kristen Wilhelm defeated Hammelman for the 3rd District seat by just six votes, 608 to 602. Steve Taylor knocked off Kosovich in the 4th District by 11 votes, 741 to 730.
Hammelman and Kosovich each asked for a recount, and both lost.
All of the candidates in April’s elections wrote guest blogs here about why their experience and why they should be elected. Kristen Wilhelm shared, in part, the following:
“I have the experience that would allow me to fulfill the duties as the 3rd District representative. My recent career with the River Revitalization Foundation has allowed me to develop key leadership, coordination, and organizational skills that have forged relationships with a wide variety of municipalities and organizations throughout Milwaukee County. I will bring to the Council the careful budgeting knowledge of the non-profit world, which requires frugal use of funding and meticulous accountability to our donors. My aeronautical background will bring an eye for detail and detail-oriented strengths to the Council.
I believe I have both private and public experience that will allow me to manage the job of Alderman for the city of Franklin. Appointed by both Mayor Klimetz and Mayor Taylor, I served as a volunteer on the Environmental Commission with no budget, and as a mere ‘recommending’ body. This is one of the most challenging positions to make a difference. Through it all, I have learned the city's various codes and ordinances.”
Here is an excerpt of what Steve Taylor wrote:
“The reason that I want to be the next alderman on the 4th district is because I feel it is my civic duty to serve the public. No matter where I have lived I have always gotten involved in some capacity. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with bachelor’s degrees in political science and public administration. I figured that while I was studying how government works I might as well apply it in a practical manner. I ran for the La Crosse City Council as a junior and got I elected to a four-year term. I served all four years, three of which I was the vice chairman of the finance and personnel committee. I moved to East Lansing, Michigan in 2002 with my future wife so she could get her masters degree. While living there I was appointed and served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for two and a half years. In December, Mayor Taylor appointed me to the Environmental Commission. As an alderman, I will be able to make a positive impact by combining the experience I gained from serving in those two other communities along with what I have learned while living here in Franklin.”
The close margins of victory (or defeat, depending on your perspective) demonstrate an obvious split electorate with no clear mandate for Wilhelm and Taylor. I submit this is a case of Hammelman and Kosovich losing their races rather than Wilhelm and Taylor winning them.
Hammelman stopped at my home during the campaign, dropped off a one-page sheet, and talked briefly to my wife who told me that Hammelman focused on the concrete welcoming slab he procured for our subdivision. I found that, of all accomplishments to emphasize, a bit odd.
Kosovich, it has been argued, made the mistake of targeting, not Steve Taylor, but mayoral candidate and former recalled Franklin alderman Basil Ryan. Read for yourself.
In an age of brutally negative campaigns, the Kosovich-Taylor match was a virtual love-fest.
Taylor wrote in his guest blog, “I respect Alderman Kosovich a great deal. It is refreshing that two candidates running for the same office can conduct themselves in a positive manner and only on the issues. At the end of the day I know that the two of us will continue to have a positive working relationship.”
Kosovich told John Neville of FranklinNOW after the election and prior to the recount, “Steve Taylor's a very nice guy. If the recount doesn't come out in my favor, I think Franklin will do fine with him as an alderman."
Kosovich was later nominated for the Franklin Planning Commission by Mayor Tom Taylor and the Common Council gave its approval. Steve Taylor was voted Franklin Common Council President, replacing Lyle Sohns.
To be fair, Wilhelm and Taylor have been in office for less than 9 months. They haven’t stumbled, but they have yet to make their mark.
The two serve on the all-important Finance Committee, affording the newbies a chance to work on the city budget. The committee all but rubber-stamped Mayor Taylor’s proposed budget, which was significant because the budget set a much-needed cap on the tax levy.
Personally, Wilhelm and Taylor disappointed me with their votes in September against a proposed ordinance to suspend expense and mileage payments for City of Franklin elected officials. The proposal made perfect sense. In these tough budget times, why should the city taxpayers fund gas mileage, dining, or any other expenses for the mayor and aldermen? If they wish to travel out of town to attend a government-related seminar or conference, let them pay out of their own pockets.
In a phone conversation I had with Wilhelm, she acted as though without the payments, she’d be on welfare tomorrow.
Taylor wrote the following in his guest blog: “When economic times are tough, we have to tighten out belts. The city should have to do the same. It can not continue to pass the buck on to its taxpayers. There are for sale signs popping up everywhere around the city. People are leaving because they can’t afford the taxes. We have seniors on fixed incomes that want to be able stay in their homes until they are ready to go. I know these things because while out campaigning this is what they are telling me. I will take a long and hard look at how we spend your tax dollars.”
Yet Taylor said it was important the expenses be paid for aldermen so they could travel to other cities and attend conferences on municipal government.
If more people understood how this mileage system works, I’m sure they wouldn’t be happy. Every month, the aldermen receive a check courtesy of city taxpayers to offset mileage, postage, whatever. There are no questions asked. Aldermen do not have to provide a list of expenses or exact mileage. They are simply forwarded a check. Sounds a lot like the Milwaukee Public Schools to me.
Wilhelm and Taylor have another chance to make their mark as they consider the fate of the Buckhorn tavern license as they serve on the License Committee.
Both aldermen are good, decent, committed individuals. But the jury’s still out. If were a teacher, my grade for them would be incomplete.
THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2008
6) TWO INCUMBENT ALDERMEN LOSE RECOUNTS
7) BOOMGAARD OR BUST
8) THE FRANKLIN SCHOOL BOARD GETS TWO NEW MEMBERS
9) BUCKHORN LIVES TO SERVE ANOTHER DAY, AND ANOTHER, AND ANOTHER...
10) MAJOR OPENINGS AT THE SHOPPES AT WYNDHAM VILLAGE
Yes, I'm a bit late on this one, but it's a must –read, this parody of the New York Times, with the date of July 4, 2009. It reads like a lefty’s wish list to Santa. Even the links work.
HT: Charlie Sykes
The Christine Rathke Tournament is being held today and Saturday at Franklin High School featuring high school girl’s basketball teams from the area.
Middleton (6-1) plays Whitnall (5-1) at 3 p.m. today and Cudahy (5-1) takes on Franklin (4-1) at 4:30 p.m. The consolation and championship games are scheduled for 3 and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The tournament is named after the late Franklin High School basketball star, Christine Rathke.
Not only are they playing Christmas music all across the country, but they’re giving away Christmas wishes in the form of expensive gifts to needy listeners.
It’s a great promotion, and I mean that sincerely. But I have to wonder how many of these stations have also handed out pink slips this month.