Support Neubauer for Supreme Court Judge

I think it’s important that you and your readers know I am endorsing Judge Lisa Neubauer for Wisconsin Supreme Court in the April 2 election. In fact, I am among more than 325 judges in more than 60 counties around the state who are supporting her. These include all of my fellow Dane County Judges, past and present, who have chosen to endorse a candidate.

Judge Neubauer has been on the Court of Appeals for 11 years, and was a practicing lawyer for 20 years before that. Her work on the Court, where she serves as Chief Judge, has shown that labels like “liberal” and “conservative” don’t apply to her. She doesn’t have any kind of agenda; rather, she is fair and impartial. On the appellate court Judge Neubauer has worked to build consensus among her colleagues. Her written opinions demonstrate an understanding of the law and a commitment to upholding the Constitution and the rights of all, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. That is exactly the kind of jurist we need to fill Justice Abrahamson’s legendary shoes.

Judge Neubauer’s opponent is portraying himself as a non-partisan candidate with no agenda except the rule of law. He was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Scott Walker, after serving as his chief legal counsel. In 12 years since obtaining his law degree he has little to no court experience, which is likely why not a single circuit court judge in Wisconsin has endorsed him, according to his own website. We will soon see a huge influx of conservative backed advertising on his behalf. I urge the voters of Waunakee not to be fooled by the commercials, and to join me in supporting Judge Lisa Neubauer for Supreme Court.

Hon. John D. Hyland

Dane County Circuit Court Judge and Waunakee resident

Thank you, Waunakee Village Board

I have been reading with amazement the relentless attacks against the Waunakee Village Board in recent Letters to the Editor. Though I disagree with a number of the premises outlined in those letters, the one thing I think most of us can agree upon is that Waunakee is a great community in which to live. That having been said, perhaps it is time to step back and ask “why” this is such a great community before entering the voting booth. Could it be that the Village Board had a little something to do with that?

Dane County is the fastest growing county in the state. As a result, there is going to be growth in Waunakee. We have seen exploding growth in neighboring communities without an infrastructure to support it and I, for one, have always appreciated the Village Board’s approach to “managed growth” of this community. As called out in other letters, some of the Village Board Trustees have certainly served for a number of years. I ask — what is wrong with that? They were voted in by a community that trusts them, and they have demonstrated their ability to make Waunakee a desirable community. Career politicians? I don’t think so. These folks are first and foremost Waunakee residents (many of them long time) who share the same desire to make the community an excellent place in which to live. While others are questioning their motives in the media, these folks, in addition to serving as Board members, are volunteering to such events as WaunaFest, WaunaBoom, Wauktoberfest, Rotary Christmas Lights, Waunakee Neighborhood Connection and other charitable organizations and events that make this a great community. And, thanks to the dedication and numerous hours of volunteering of Gary Herzberg, our parks are the envy of Dane County.

These current and former Board members “demonstrate and don’t declare” and I would say that they have been very humble in their contributions to the community. If past practice is an indicator of future performance, I put my confidence in the Village Board, thank them for making this a great community, and ask that we continue down the path forward that they have established and not risk taking Waunakee in a different direction. Vote for Gary Herzberg, Sue Springman, Phil Willems, and Chris Zellner to continue down that path.

Tom O’Rourke

Who should fund our roads?

The “but for” test for TIFs says that TIF assistance must be necessary for a development to occur. With HyVee at Woodland Crest and Festival Foods at Kilkenny West, we have two supermarket chains literally racing to get approval and build in Waunakee. It seems apparent that one side or the other, likely both, will be developed quickly, TIF or no TIF. What does the HyVee TIF get us? Nearly $3 million in public infrastructure, including new blocks of Simon Crestway and a side road between HyVee and another commercial parcel. These serve businesses and the developer mainly, but we do get a needed traffic light on Woodland Drive. There’s also a water main extension under Highway Q, and an extension of a trail along Peaceful Valley Parkway. Nearly $1 million of this will be paid by the developer, while $2 million is paid through tax increment, along with almost $1 million in administrative costs and interest.

Like the Highway Q rebuild, we get this “for free,” that is if “free” means forgoing $850,000 in tax increment from TID 10 over the next 12 years. Gain $3 million, give up $850 thou; pretty good deal. Unfortunately, Dane County gives up $420,000 in tax increment, and the Waunakee School District loses over $1.5 million. I have moral qualms about asking the county, school district and MATC to give up tax increment to fund our village’s public roads. Call me old-fashioned, but I think if we want something, we should be willing to pay for it, not ask for a handout. Developers, you are welcome to take this message to heart.

What’s the alternative? The developer is already willing to chip in nearly $1 million and take the risk of bearing the rest if the development doesn’t generate enough tax increment. Maybe they’d chip in more if the village takes the risk. (By the way, whatever happened to the days when developers would build their own roads?) Yes, Waunakee borrowing $2 million with general obligation bonds puts us near our (self-imposed) debt limit; it would also save about a quarter million in interest due to lower rates available for such bonds, and every taxing jurisdiction would enjoy the tax increment as soon as it’s generated, instead of waiting over a decade. To me, this is the only honorable way to go.

Gerry Ashmore

Support for Chris Zellner as president

I support Chris Zellner for Village President. Chris has the best interests for the Village in his heart. Waunakee is his hometown, he’s lived his life here, and he certainly cares about the Village and its residents.

WaunaBoom, a fantastic, safe, family event celebrating July 4th. His idea, he created it for our community.

Chris is very fair, listens to all opinions, and is very available if you need to speak with him. I’ve been at a number of listening events he’s conducted. He’s kept the sessions focused and listened to all who wished to speak. No debates, just residents speaking their opinions and he listened.

Yes, our Village is growing. Affordable housing is a constant issue. Waunakee is not alone facing these issues. An affordable housing task force for Waunakee has been created.

Financially, our Village is in good shape, Borrowing is significantly under the regulatory limits. We’ve a wonderfully maintained Village Center, Fire, Police, and EMS that we can be proud of. The new library when complete, will be a gem.

There’s lots happening in the Village. Sometimes change isn’t easy. With all that’s happening, I believe we’ve got a great Village President. Let’s keep Chris Zellner, a good, dedicated, and trustworthy person as our Village President.

Dale W. Otradovec

Reaching out to all of Waunakee

I would like to thank all of my supporters who wrote letters to the editor over the past several weeks. But, I think in some ways, they have not fully or accurately represented some of my views. I would like to take a moment to clarify.

I am running because last year we were told incumbents continued to run because no one else would step up. I felt obligated to step up. I know I can offer some fresh perspective, knowledge of positive change models, and a desire to be accountable. I know that to make a change accepted and positive, you need to work with the people impacted. You don’t tell them; they tell you what works best. Your opinion as a current resident matters no matter where you live.

For instance, I have noticed that the general listening sessions have happened downtown, with the predictable result that the downtown residents show up. I believe it would be very reasonable to work with the HOAs to see if they would want to host a listening session in their neighborhood. It would, of course, need to be open to the public, but it might make it easier to attend if you live closer. Meetings that begin at 6 pm are a challenge if you work outside Waunakee, what if they started at 7 p.m.?

I know, like, and respect many people who live in Southbridge, Kilkenny, Savannah, Meadowbrook, and Westbridge. Honestly, I deeply appreciate people who can pay the property taxes some of those homes require.

My concerns are not with the people living there but with how development happens. Development agreements are created they are negotiated behind closed doors and not released to the public prior to ratification. Same with TIF agreements. If you are negotiating on taxpayer’s behalf, at minimum, they should see the final product prior to approval.

I hope to represent all of Waunakee with humble, servant leadership that rejects litmus tests for being on committees or expressing your concerns. Elected representatives work for the people and are ultimately responsible for the decisions they make. Village staff simply follows their lead. We need the greatest people we can find to ensure Waunakee has the best solutions. You are smart, innovative people, and we need you. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at ann4waunakee@gmail.com.

Please vote April 2

Ann Lewandowski

Vote Herzberg, Springman, Willems and Zellner

I guess I’ve got a unique perspective on the upcoming elections and the candidates. Having recently retired after serving on the Waunakee Plan Commission and the Waunakee/Westport Joint Plan Commission for close to 20 years, I was fortunate enough to work with Gary Herzberg, Sue Springman, Phil Willems and Chris Zellner. We regularly dealt with complicated issues and in all cases, I was impressed with their approach towards decision making, always trying to do what was best for the Village in the long run. Complex issues were presented and the board always did a great job of soliciting input from the public as well as reviewing in detail information provided by village staff and consultants.

I was proud to work with them and, as I look back over the past 20 years, I feel a lot of good things have happened in our community. Gary, Sue, Phil and Chris deserve your support.

Patrick McGowan

Consider alternative housing options

I am so thankful the village board listened to the community and organized the Housing Task Force. I was able to watch the March 14 meeting over a cup of coffee this weekend. I was impressed with the variety of presenters.

I was disappointed that our village has not used TID’s as a high leverage point for making developers include some affordable housing in Waunakee. Based off of the Housing Task Force info we need to identify land ahead of time that the village would like to see developed, and encourage package housing (ex: 3 buildings with 15-20 unit buildings instead of 1 — 60 unit building). Then use TIF money (financial leverage) and Zoning to help developers qualify for the Low Income housing Tax Credit. People hear low income and think Section 8 housing, but the low income tax credit gives money to the developer to use for development costs equal to the percent of property value depending on the credit type. This would include high quality housing that people with median incomes could afford and lighten the housing cost burden.

Co-op housing sounds like a wonderful opportunity for innovation in Waunakee. A housing co-op is owned by the Cooperative and the residents are shareholders. The building (s) are governed by these shareholders and they have strong management and engagement. A variety of housing options were recommended and many sound like a beautiful marriage between current neighborhoods and new development.

The village could also use Historic Tax Credits to make market rate apartments out of historic building which is more affordable and less dependent on village tax revenue.

Solar on the roof was recommended as way to reduce utility bills for single family especially with our aging population in homes. I believe this is not being recommended by the Golden Pond project in their governance agreements. Innovative technology should be encouraged.

I hope that the Village will demand that new developments include sidewalks. We need to be thinking long term access for ALL our population. At the minimum we should have sidewalks for individuals with disabilities to have easy access and the ability to get to and from public establishments and parks.

The Housing Task Force is doing wonderful work and I hope that through all the new knowledge we can do better for the future of Waunakee.

Vote April 2 for candidates with a fresh voice and ears.

Ashia Dale

Candidate lays out her platform

I am Mary Heimbecker and I am running for village trustee. Development at the right time, in the right place, at the right cost, is what I want. I am for ALL neighborhoods in the village getting a fair shake with development, roads, and infrastructure. I think there are other alternatives to TIF funding and those should be considered. Citizens have every right to voice their concerns if they disagree with how tax dollars are spent. I am willing to look at other options besides TIF funding for new development. I will use common sense and read the agenda packets and push for them to come out early enough that decisions aren’t rushed through. I will review staff recommendations but make my own decision.

Applications for grants, exploring transportation options, and open meetings are important to me. I respect that incumbents have served on different village committees and the board, but I disagree with their positions, and it’s time for new ideas. I pledge to treat citizens with respect and to listen to their concerns. I love Waunakee, and that is why I am running. I know that we will continue to grow because we are close to Madison, but I want that growth to allow us to keep our small town feel.

Mary Heimbecker

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