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.
It was announced today that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will be running for Governor of Wisconsin. He will probably be pitted against current Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker.
Will this be good for Waukesha?
First - An overview assessment. The State of Wisconsin is financially in a "world of hurt". A November 13th USA Today article lists Wisconsin as a "Top Ten" State facing financial ruin. Our local newspapers, pundits, and radio stations are filled with stories on current and projected shortfalls in the State budget. Daily, there are stories (with 2 notable exceptions - Thank you Mercury Marine and Republic Airlines!) about businesses cutting back; laying-off; closing; moving operations out of State; and unemployment rising Statewide. This week Anheuser Busch announced a 45 person layoff (out of a 60 person workforce) in Manitowoc. In addition to losing 45 well-paid jobs, Manitowoc is now in imminent danger of losing its' largest utility consumer. Couple this with GM in Janesville, Harley in Milwaukee, and too many more to mention, and the real world is not bright in the immediate Wisconsin future.
Now let's look at the 2 candidates together. Remember - they are the 2 highest ranking politicians in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Scott Walker has been Milwaukee County Executive since 2002. A career politician since 1993, Scott proudly states that he "authored seven consecutive budgets without increasing the property tax levy from the previous year." Problem with that statement is none of his budgets were passed! Unquestionably Scott is a fiscal conservative - and that is much needed in these times. But look ahead to Scott as Governor... Following form, he will present budgets to the Legislature which shift the unpleasantness of determining which cuts to make and which programs to save from himself to others while touting his conservative ways. In short - he could soon be fighting with the Legislature just as he now fights with the Milwaukee County Board, and he will continue proposing unpassable budgets. Wonderful...
Tom Barrett has been Mayor of Milwaukee since 2004, and a career politician since 1984. Overwhelmingly popular, this affable man presides over, arguably, the most challenging constituency in Wisconsin. However, with 5 years under his belt, there are no solutions to the problems endemic to Milwaukee. His 2009 budget didn't offer much hope as major deficits were forecast - again. One of his solutions? He stated "The city is looking for ways other than taxes to raise more money, Barrett said, including getting more money from the Milwaukee Water Works, which collects rates from other communities that buy water from Milwaukee." Is that going to be good for the adjacent communities (Waukesha!)?
Career politicians have gotten Wisconsin to where it is (Anyone remember Tommy Thompson leaving his Lt. Governor Scott McCallum with a $1.6 billion dollar budget deficit as his going away gift?). Both Walker and Barrett have proven themselves to be "electable" time and again. But isn't it time to look beyond career politicians and get practical candidates with real-world business skillsets in office? Our recent Wisconsin history is also blemished with the likes of Chuck Chvala and Scott Jenson. Don't these extraordinary times call for extraordinary candidates and new perspectives on old problems?
Sorry Waukesha - Neither Tom Barrett nor Scott Walker will be an ally of our County after the upcoming elections. They will be far too busy producing bills and budgets which are advantageous to them personally as they polish their professional bios for Wikipedia and future elections.