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Election will put new faces on Franklin Common Council

March 18, 2013

Franklin - As candidates enter the last stretch of campaigning, one thing is certain: there will be two new faces on the Common Council.

After surviving the January primary, Mark Dandrea and Greg Kowalski will compete for the District 1 seat. Steve Olson, who has held the position for the past 13 years, announced he would not seek re-election, saying he wanted to devote more time to his wife and his career.

The District 2 race pits Curt Bolton against Daniel Mayer. Tim Solomon, who also has held the position for the past 13 years, decided not to run again. "It's time for someone younger to take over the reins," he said.

With no opposition, Doug Schmidt is virtually assured to win re-election in District 5. Schmidt replaced Lyle Sohns in the 2010 election by defeating Bryan Maersch with 60 percent of the vote.

Franklin aldermen are elected to three-year terms at a salary of $7,200 per year plus $1,800 for mileage and expenses.

Mayor Tom Taylor said the winners of the upcoming April 2 election likely will face the question that's on the minds of most voters: "What are they going to do to bring more revenue into the city to support public safety and maintain a high quality of life?"

District 1

At the age of 26, Kowalski is the youngest candidate. The young eBay entrepreneur currently serves on the city's Complete Streets and Connectivity Committee and is the president of Citizens for Community Development. He narrowly lost to Olson in the 2010 election.

"With Olson retiring, a lot of my supporters told me that they appreciate my ideas and now is the time to step up to the plate," Kowalski said.

As vice president for Tri City National Bank, Dandrea wants to bring his business acumen to the Common Council.

"I will use my experience as a business executive to develop a marketing plan that I think the city needs to attract new business to expand the tax base," he said.

In February, Dandrea received the endorsement of the outgoing alderman Steve Olson.

"Mark Dandrea has the professional experience as a bank officer to control spending, understand the budget, attract business to the community and assist in the financial management of your tax dollars," Olson said.

Both candidates identified development as the cornerstone of their platforms. Their top priorities include stimulating growth at the Highway 100 and Loomis Road site after Meijer decided to pull out of plans to build a 190,000-square-foot store there in January.

They're also concerned with expanding Franklin Business Park, a 425-acre corporate development for office and light industrial use located at 5100 West Ryan Road.

"We got an attractive location and we need to market ourselves and utilize our valuable land to look at expanding our commercial industrial park area," said Dandrea.

The candidates differ when it comes to their stances on consolidating fire services with Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners and Oak Creek. A report conducted last year by the Public Policy Forum stated that the communities could save millions of dollars over the next five years if they shared services.

Kowalski believes consolidation isn't necessary now. "Public safety will not be cut under my watch," he said. "I think that just starts a whole new trend of consolidation and we start seeing Franklin tax dollars helping neighboring communities and not our own."

But Dandrea said the city has an obligation to look at any and all opportunities to cut costs. "I would look at combined services," he said. "I think everything should be looked at very seriously because we are responsible for how we spend the tax revenue."

District 2

Outgoing alderman Tim Solomon said he's most proud of balancing the books without having to go to taxpayers, and improving the park system.

Both District 2 candidates mostly acknowledged Solomon's achievements, and said had he ran for re-election, they probably wouldn't be contesting the position.

Curt Bolton, who has worked for the village of Sussex and the city of Greenfield, said that it was time for him to "get a little more active in Franklin affairs."

Bolton said he wants to continue the downward trend of obligatory debt without sacrificing quality services.

"You can cut cost to the point where you don't have something of value," Bolton said. "I'm not going to say taxes should never be raised. We're going to have to do what's best for the community. But there are other ways the community can raise revenue."

Bolton said, more importantly, he wants input from other people on different sides of the issues. "That will result in better operations for the city," he said.

Daniel Mayer, the current fire chief for Cudahy, said he wants to strike a balance between development and Franklin's open spaces.

"We need development for our tax base, but it needs to be controlled and balanced development," he said. "That way we can have a community that our kids are going to be proud of and want to inherit."

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