CITY OF BROOKFIELD — In a time of booming development and multiple tax incremental financing (TIF) districts, Brookfield has not been without debate in recent years.
Growth abounds in the community and with it comes questions about what direction the city wants to aim its future.
Residents will have a chance to be heard April 5 when a trio of seats on the city's 14-member common council are contested by half a dozen candidates.
In the city's 2nd District, incumbent Rick Owen faces off against challenger Thomas Dougherty.
Incumbent Buck Jurken hopes to hold his seat in the 4th District against James Schulgit II.
In the 7th District, incumbent Renee Lowerr is being challenged by Ted Wentzel.
Voters must show photo identification prior to receiving a ballot and will be allowed to vote for candidates in one party only. For information on forms of identification that are acceptable, visit https://bringit.wisconsin.gov
What are your main goals for Brookfield if elected?
Owen: Maintain lower taxes, high quality essential services and protect single family neighborhoods. Promote high quality redevelopment, provide a permanent location for prescription drug drop off, reexamine our lighting code, address health care costs for city employees and promote buildout of sidewalks/bikepaths.
Dougherty: Fiscal responsibility, Champion education, Invest in infrastructure, Allow for Taxpayers' voices to be heard.
Jurken: To be available to my constituents and to represent their views and values. After speaking with many constituents over the years, the 4th district wants to keep Brookfield as a premier city with top quality services.
Schulgit II: Keep property taxes low, combat the abuse of prescription drugs with a drug drop box, better inform residents of city business through my website, maintain quality infrastructure and city services, prevent crony capitalism/corporate welfare, which is happening through TIF districts
Lowerr: To work tirelessly to make Brookfield a vibrant place to live, work, and play as I have for these past 8 years. I will continue to be the resident's voice at city hall, by listening to their concerns and representing them.
Wentzel: Promote smart, sustainable development that preserves Brookfield's high quality of life, work with the school board to support and promote STEM curriculum in elementary schools, ensure a healthy environment for small businesses, ensure my district has an active voice in their city government, through both voting and consistent communication.
There has been a lot of debate in recent years in Brookfield between enhancing urban development and protecting residents of the city. What are you thoughts on that balance?
Owen: Protecting our residential neighborhoods is preeminent! We target development and redevelopment for areas zoned for commercial, industrial or office. I examine every new project with a focus on how it will impact the surrounding neighborhoods, at the same time recognizing that commercial development provides a key buffer on property taxes.
Dougherty: I simply will do what is right for the economic prosperity of Brookfield taxpayers as long as it does not create a vacuum of safety in the city. I want to be a representative to represent the taxpayers of my district, not to create my own agenda.
Jurken: Brookfield is, and shall continue to be, a community of detached single family homes. Residents of Brookfield appear to like the commercial urban development that has been ongoing in our city and as Alderman I will continue to support the wishes of my constituents.
Schulgit II: As alderman I will stand for the residents of Brookfield and not large developers. If the development would adversely impact the quality of life of residents I will oppose the development. Development is not an end in and of itself. It should be built only if it benefits the residents of the city.
Lowerr: I take the time to thoroughly review project details and balance them with the interests of Brookfield's residents. At the end of the day, I am proud of my voting record and the importance I have placed on respecting residents concerns to make Brookfield a better place to live.
Wentzel: The balance between urban development and protecting residents should always favor protecting residents and our high quality of life. Any form of development should be smart and strategic. Brookfield should not compromise its top tier school system, ample green space, or strong sense of community for the sake of development.
One particular issue that has come up quite a bit recently is that of tax incremental financing (TIF) districts. How do you feel about this economic development tool that the city has been using more often of late?
Owen: Brookfield has used TIFs judiciously and prudently. We have approved only four TIF projects in my 12 years on the council. Every project that seeks the use of TIF is subjected to rigorous review by outside consultants.
Dougherty: I will admit to not yet being an expert on this topic, something most politicians would not dream of saying. I was given 50 words to explain my opinion on this complex issue. My constituents can reach out to me via email, twitter, phone, etc.
Jurken: Brookfield has been using public-private partnerships since the 1960's to build Brookfield into the community it is today. TIFs have been successful in the past and with continued attentiveness and thorough vetting they can be a useful tool in the future.
Schulgit II: TIF districts take money out of the pockets of hard-working Brookfield residents and hand it to large developers. The city should not give corporate welfare to rich and well connected developers. Money that is currently spent on TIFs is best returned to residents through lower taxes and invested in city infrastructure.
Lowerr: Many communities are over using TIFs to the future detriment of their residents. I have throughly vetted all these TIF requests and have only voted in favor TIF 4 and TIF 6, and I voted against TID 5 (Irgens Corridor Project).
Wentzel: TIF districts were originally designed to help develop blighted urban properties. This type of economic tool should be used sparingly, to attract companies with high-paying jobs and prevent similar companies from leaving. Development in Brookfield will happen regardless of TIF districts given its highly desirable environment.
What other topics/issues do you think will be important for the city to address in the years to come?
Owen: As population density increases, we will see increased congestion on our major arterial roadways and will need to plan for road improvements and in some cases widening. We will also need to continue to update and support our Park and Open Space plans.
Dougherty: I think spending will become a big issue in the city. I think we should be spending taxpayer money on only what the taxpayers need and cannot provide for themselves. That's what government is for.
Jurken: Redevelopment will be important in our future. Ensuring that this redevelopment conforms to our vision for Brookfield will be the job of the current and future city officials. Also of critical importance is continuing Brookfield's top quality services while maintaining low taxes.
Schulgit II: If elected, I will take the lead to combat drug addiction. Brookfield needs a prescription drug drop box to keep narcotics away from children.
Lowerr: Maintaining Brookfield as a premier and safe community to live, work and play. This will be my top priority.
Wentzel: Brookfield needs to prepare for the knowledge economy. We need to continue to build bridges with the business community to attract and sustain companies that offer knowledge-centric jobs, as well as with the school board to ensure we are educating our kids with the skills to eventually fill these jobs.
Address: 17700 Lisa Lane
Years in Community: 17
Occupation: Advertising and marketing, business owner of Sign Synergy
Education: B.A. Northwestern University
Political History: Alderman in the city of Brookfield for 12 years
Community Involvement: Member of Community United Methodist Church, supporter of Elmbrook Senior Taxi and other local charitable and service organizations through sign donations
Family: Wife Julie and three children: Drew, a senior at UWM, Ellen, a senior at Brookfield East and Will, a junior at Brookfield East
Address: 17535 Echo Lane
Years in Community: 20
Occupation: Student, Apple tech support
Education: Studying finance at UW-Milwaukee
Political History: College Repulicans chairman at UW-Milwaukee
Community Involvement: Troop 21 Eagle Scout, Hunger Task Force volunteer
Address: 2040 Erin Court
Years in Community: 40
Occupation: CEO of American International Consulting Group
Education: Marquette University class of 1975
Political History: 6 years as Brookfield alderman
Community Involvement: 8 years on Brookfield Police and Fire Commission, former co-chair of St. John Vianney Festival
Family: Wife Ginny and four grown children
Name:James Schulgit II
Years in Community: 19
Occupation: Research Assistant at UW-Whitewater
Education: Freshman at UW-Whitewater majoring in biology with a minor in Spanish
Political History: I am always up to date on what is happening politically both on local and national levels
Community Involvement: Member of St. John Vianney Parish, volunteer at area hospital
Family: My parents Sandy and Jim both live in Brookfield as does my brother Matthew
Address: 17075 Elizabeth Drive
Years in Community: 34
Occupation: Educator (Part-time)
Education: B.A. in Business Management
Graduate of Brookfield Central High School
Political History: Alderperson city of Brookfield for two consecutive 4-year terms
Community Involvement: Volunteer at Swanson Elementary School, Wisconsin Hills Middle School, Brookfield Central High School
Girl Scout Leader & Camp
Vacation Bible School & Sunday School Teacher
International Youth Camp Chaperone
Brookfield German Christmas Market
Family: Married 28+ years to husband Briane and two daughters ages 23 and 19.
Address: 1165 Club Circle #408S
Years in Community: 2
Occupation: Director of Marketing at Concurrency, Inc.
Education: BA from University of Virginia
MBA from University of Michigan
Political History: Former Deputy Associate Director of Presidential Personnel - The White House
Community Involvement: Member of Elmbrook Rotary
Retired XO (Executive Officer), 84th Training Command, Milwaukee, Wi, U.S. Army Reserve
Former commissioner of Lake Country Youth Baseball and Softball League
Former den leader, Boy Scouts of America
Former president, UVA Club of Wisconsin
Family: Three sons: Teddy (13), Bennett (10) and Marcus (9)