Jay, who has lived in the Waukesha area for over 20 years, is an active volunteer who has served on numerous local boards and committees. He's married to Colleen with three kids having gone through the Waukesha schools. He is the VP of a local distribution company.
In my Board time with the Waukesha Education Foundation (WEF), the Telecommunications Director at Waukesha West – Ms. Chris Beck, and I “birthed” a TV program called the Education Connection. This program has given its’ students real-life responsibilities in filming and editing for a variety of interview subjects for local channels 13 and 25. People kind enough to spend time have included Former Governor Lee Dreyfuss; Former Waukesha Mayors Carole Lombardi and Larry Nelson; the Directors of the Waukesha County Community Foundation, the Waukesha Museum and the Waukesha Civic Theatre; and, in 2005, newly appointed Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas.
County Executive Dan Vrakas and I recently set up an appointment to re-visit and catch-up in the studio. My goal is always to use these interviews as a platform of discussion about the opportunities available within the Waukesha School District for a quality education and its’ value to the surrounding Communities. Our hopes are also to gain insights into our Community Leaders and their perspective on whatever the “topics of the day” might happen to be.
With that backdrop of experience and education, it is time to give our County Executive an “A+”.
The time flew by in this 30+ minute interview. The self-assurance that comes with being intimately familiar with the subject matter was instantly identifiable. The topics were wide-ranging, and Dan was on task and on-point at every level.
What struck (and stuck with) me was his approach to government. Honestly, we are fortunate to have a home-grown County Executive who absolutely understands current economic conditions, sets goals, builds consensus, and clearly communicates with his administrative staff, the County Board, and the employees who make it all happen. It is also clearly apparent the County Executive is a man of integrity, values, and possesses an innate sense of what makes Waukesha County “tick”.
Look no further than the fact that Waukesha County, the 3’rd largest, has the lowest equalized tax rate in the State! More importantly – please understand that this has been done without compromising the very services that make Waukesha County special. Road maintenance, police protection, social services, and the myriad of County services have not been deferred nor cut just to make these real-world conservative budgets appealing to the public. Compare this to anywhere else in Wisconsin...
Many of us in the private sector question why “government” is often out-of-touch in finding answers to the long list of business challenges we face today: Declining revenues, increasing costs (wages and benefits), doing more with less, seeking efficiencies, and more. As our conversation unfolded, it was exciting to hear a common-sense business approach in government to the same challenges we wrestle with daily.
If you live in the viewing areas of channels 13 and 25, I encourage you to watch this interview. These are turbulent political times. Given the negative tone of almost everything we see or read, it was refreshing and invigorating to reflect on the many, many positive reasons to live and work in Waukesha County.
Now…As for that grade I so generously bestowed on Dan in the banner above…
County Executive Dan Vrakas actually earned an “A+” in many areas! Achievement, improvement, effort, and – not to be overlooked – enthusiasm! Obviously the learning curve instilled in him through his years in the Waukesha School District is now paying dividends for the nearly 400,000 people who reside here.