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2014 Waukesha mayoral election has first candidate

Reilly likes chances; Scrima mum but says "competition is welcomed"

July 2, 2013

The 2014 Waukesha mayoral race is officially on.

City of Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima hasn't officially announced that he will seek another four-year term in 2014, but a challenger has made his intentions known.

Shawn Reilly, a longtime lawyer in downtown Waukesha and lifelong resident of the city, filed a campaign registration statement (something needed before any funds can be raised for a campaign) last week.

While it's more than nine months before the 2014 election, Reilly said he wanted to get a jump start.

"I want to make sure people know I'm running," said Reilly, who works at the law firm of Hippenmeyer, Reilly, Moodie & Blum.

Not looking at 2014 yet

So what are Scrima's plans?

Scrima, in his first term as mayor, didn't want to talk about next year's election. But he did say, "we'll have time at the very end of the year for campaigning."

"Now's the time to do the work of running the city," Scrima said Monday afternoon. "It's not time to work on campaigning. Right now, it's time to continue the momentum of positive things happening in the city."

Scrima, 36, provided a statement of what these positive things include.

"During the last three years we have balanced our city checkbook, kept taxes flat, created over 500 family-supporting jobs, headed toward Oak Creek for water, invested millions of dollars for new road reconstruction, grown our community-front porch events like Friday Night Live (weekly downtown music series) and GuitarTown, and our goal remains to become the No. 1 best small city in America by 2018.

When asked if that was a yes or no on a 2014 run he said "people will be able to figure it out. Now's the time to do the work."

Candidate's goals

Reilly, 52, was looking ahead to work he wants to accomplish if he was elected next year.

He said the top three areas would be ensuring the governors of the eight states approve Waukesha's request for Great Lakes water, to help business growth and to improve infrastructure that he said is not being maintained in the city.

"I understand what businesses need to come into municipalities and have relationships with a lot of business leaders, so I would make sure that businesses continue to come into the city," Reilly said.

Better time to run

Reilly said he had intentions on running for mayor in 2010 when Scrima, a 32-year-old political newcomer at the time, defeated the incumbent Larry Nelson with 58 percent of the vote. Scrima also received the most votes in the five-person primary that year.

Reilly, however, said it wasn't the right time to put his name in that race.

Reilly attended Catholic Memorial High School before graduating from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983 and the Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., in 1989. He's been active in the downtown scene serving as vice president and president of the now-disbanded downtown Business Improvement District.

Says skills can translate

Reilly specializes in municipal law, real estate transactions, real estate development, business law and corporate law.

"I think I could do a real good job," Reilly said. "I have more than 20-plus years of working with municipalities and am interested in helping the City of Waukesha. I'm a good listener and fair and being an attorney I have a good skill set in weighing the advantages and disadvantages in how something should be handled and am always willing to explain to people why I am making the decision and the basis for it."

Reilly added he believes this is an area that needs improvement in the mayor's chair.

"I don't think the mayor explains where he is coming from with what he's thinking and in what he proposes," Reilly said. "For me, you'll get an explanation with what the issues are and you'll also be provided answers with what I'm thinking and why I'm thinking it."

Scrima didn't have much to say when asked about his potential opponent.

"The wonderful thing about our democracy is competition," Scrima said. "And competition is welcomed."

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