Waukesha County Board Supervisor Kathleen Cummings fought hard to have the one-time Moor Mud Baths Resort on the Waukesha County Courthouse campus preserved and is still adamant that the county board made a bad decision in denying a plan that would have repurposed the historic building.
Mike Payne, her challenger in the April 5 general election, doesn't see it that way. He says the county made a wise decision in voting against senior housing on the property as a way to move ahead in the demolition of the building.
The two will square off for the District 19 county board seat, a position Cummings has held for 16 years.
The district includes the eastern and southeastern sections of the city of Waukesha, but also a small section on the east side of downtown (Wards 18-23 and 28). To see the boundaries of this district go online at bit.ly/countyboardmap.
Board seats are two-year terms. The annual salary for supervisors is $9,536.
Waukesha Now asked each candidate three questions leading up to the election. Candidates were asked to limit responses to 75 words. In some cases, answers were edited for length.
Why should you be elected to the county board?
Cummings: My No. 1 priority is to the residents of the district. I have the experience, leadership, track record, and passion to work tirelessly, ask questions and be informed on the issues. Working together using lean principles, creative solutions and new technology, I will work to hold the line on taxes. With this road map, Waukesha County will attract new businesses, jobs and economic development. Together, "We the People" must be in charge of our government.
Payne: I am running for the county board to help make Waukesha County even stronger. With the right vision and execution, we can lead the way in economic development and create a bright future for my family and yours. We need a fresh business perspective and new qualified people to step up and lead. My experience in business and public service has prepared me to be a leader on the county board.
If the Waukesha County Museum shows it is financially stable in the coming years, would you support the Waukesha County Board providing funds to the museum again?
Cummings: The museum is an asset to Waukesha County. It is where our students, residents, and visitors can learn about our rich history and what makes Waukesha County a great place to do business and to raise a family. The museum is under new leadership and is moving forward in the right direction. I would entertain a collaborative source of funding.
Payne: I'm confident the museum has the right leadership in place to be successful and financially stable. I have a professional relationship with the museum and what I see is an organization bringing costs under control and creating a long-term solution that does not depend on government budgets. I think as this process unfolds, the community will respond with support for the museum. That will be more impactful than a line item in the budget.
The county last year denied a plan to redevelop the former Moor Mud Baths building on the Waukesha County campus and instead voted to tear down the building. Was this a good decision and how can the county preserve historical buildings while also encouraging development in the future?
Cummings: Preserving historic structures is sound economic development. The county rejected a $400,000 purchase proposal to build senior housing that would have generated $46,000 per year in tax revenue. The private developer's $9 million building renovation plan would have created 72 jobs, and provided stability and sustainability to a neighborhood and golf course. Finally, I could not support a $3.4 million building demolition when the sheriff's department is facing a $2 million shortfall for equipment replacement.
Payne: The only proposal presented to the board from a private developer was not acceptable, and the board correctly voted against it. Each scenario has to be evaluated on its own set of circumstances. The proposed sale of the Blair House is a great example of how the private sector and public sector can work together to preserve a historical building in a way that is a win for the taxpayers, historical preservation and private sector.
Kathleen Cummings (inc.)
Address: 1325 E. Roberta Ave., Waukesha
Years in district: 37
Occupation: Elected official
Education: Calvert High School (Tiffin, Ohio)
Political History: Waukesha County Board supervisor, 16 years; served on various committees including judiciary and law enforcement (vice chairman), public works, geo-processing, local emergency planning, land use, parks and environment, health and human services, Waukesha County Housing Authority, human resources, bio terrorism task force of Waukesha County; Waukesha alderwoman (15 years), past president of the common council. Served on a number of committees, including buildings and grounds, ordinance and license, information technology (chairman), human resources, public art, landmarks (chairman), Waukesha City Housing Authority
Community Involvement: St. Mary's Catholic Church (Waukesha) member, School District of Waukesha Superintendent's Advisory Committee member, Curriculum and Instruction Committee member, PTA and PTO member; Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin (former board member for eight years); National Autism Convention, Milwaukee; City of Waukesha's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department: Circle of Friends leading field trips for special needs youth; Boy Scouts: Potawatomi Area Council/Special Needs Committee; Girl Scouts: Lifetime member and former leader of seven troops
Family: Husband, David; three children
Phone: (262) 853-6272
Facebook: Kathleen Cummings Representative for the People
Address: 1001 Downing Drive, Waukesha
Years in district: 51/2
Occupation: Commercial account executive, R&R Insurance Services Inc.
Education: Bachelor's degree in marketing, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business
Political History: Appointed to City of Waukesha Plan Commission and Waukesha County Airport Operations Commission
Community Involvement: Waukesha County Business Alliance Economic Development Committee chairman, WCBA Policy Board member, Waukesha Rotary Club board of directors, Ascension Lutheran Church (Waukesha) member
Family: Wife, Amanda, and son, George