Peter Bartels, who has been the District 5 alderman since 2013, says he wants to continue to be the voice for his northwest side constituents.
However, Mike Volpano, a one-time mayoral candidate, says he should be the new voice for residents in the district.
Bartels and Volpano will square off in the city's only contested aldermanic race this spring on Tuesday, April 5.
The winner will receive a three-year term to the council and an annual salary of $7,000.
A challenge this time
Bartels was appointed to the council during the summer of 2013 after longtime alderman and former Common Council President Paul Ybarra stepped down. Bartels went unchallenged for the seat in 2014.
"I have the dedication to attend meetings and be informed to make decisions," said Bartels, an operations manager at a metal fabrication company. "I also have the experience to know the correct people to contact to make sure I am fully informed from both sides in order to be confident with my vote. My priority is to address the concerns of the people in my district."
Volpano didn't seek the aldermanic seat in 2014 because he was in the process of running for the mayoral seat. (He was eliminated in the primary round after finishing with the fewest votes of the four candidates.) But the opportunity to serve the city in some capacity never left Volpano.
"My goal is to be an active voice for the people in this district and ultimately in Waukesha," said Volpano, a company trainer at a market research company. "I will make myself available to my neighbors so they can express their opinions, ideas and feelings about what happens in their and my neighborhood."
He said many individuals he has spoken with in his district "do not like feeling helpless to get their issues addressed."
"I want to be a vehicle for anyone who wants to be heard," Volpano added.
Bartels wants to retain his position so he can continue to help residents address public safety issues — a rising problem in the area, he said.
"The amount of times police are needed seems to have increased in the past few years," Bartels said. "People in the district have asked for details on incidents more than in the past. The police have immediately given me details on particular incidents when I have asked, and that has been very helpful when having discussions with constituents."
But Volpano said the people he has talked with don't feel they are being heard. He said one example was four years ago when the city approved a low-income housing project that included an apartment complex and a 36-unit facility for patients with dementia on Meadow Lane.
"When the Meadow Lane development was proposed most everyone I spoke with were opposed to the development as presented," he said. "They were offered an opportunity to express their opposition at a meeting that they felt was a dog-and-pony show. Nothing was done to address their issues. That shouldn't have happened."
On a separate issue, the city is again studying whether it should consolidate its emergency dispatch services with Waukesha County.
Bartels isn't in favor of that approach. "Shat has been established and is working well will suffer," he said.
Volpano says the city should just "choose the option that will provide the shortest response time to those in need."
Both Bartels and Volpano, however, offer similar viewpoints on some of the top issues the council has faced in recent years.
While both haven't faced any votes regarding the city's water application, each say they support Waukesha's effort for Great Lakes water.
Both were not in favor of last year's proposed Fox Head Residences apartment complex near downtown — Bartels voted against the project and Volpano said that area on Maple Avenue has "great potential for development but not for multifamily."
Bartels also voted against a proposal for the city to loan money to a private condo association in order to make upgrades on its property on Waukesha's south side. Volpano said he would have done the same.
And closer to home, both don't feel the West Waukesha Bypass, which runs through their district and will begin construction next year, will be a benefit to the area.
"I don't believe there is a need for the bypass," Bartels said. "I know that the project has been debated and reviewed many times but I don't think the end goal will be a huge payoff."
Volpano added: "I have not been convinced of a genuine need for a west bypass. Lest for reducing traffic on the existing Les Paul Parkway bypass I see no benefit. At one time, before adjacent land was developed, it may have made sense, but not now."
Late last year Bartels was the lone dissenting vote at the plan commission level in the Waukesha County Museum's plan to add a 32-unit apartment complex on the downtown property. Volpano said he's "not a real fan of adding more multifamily housing and would have to take a long hard look to see if he would be in support of it."
Peter Bartels (inc.)
Address: 2600 Keri Court, Waukesha
Years in district: 161/2
Occupation: Operations manager at a metal fabrication company
Education: Bachelor's degree in political science, Marquette University; associates degree in industrial engineering, Milwaukee Area Technical College
Political History: Waukesha alderman (2013-present)
Community Involvement: District 5 alderman
Family: Wife, Maggie
Address: 2013 Woodburn Road, Waukesha
Years in district: 9
Occupation: Corporate trainer
Education: Marketing degree, Waukesha County Technical College; business management degree, University of Phoenix
Political History: Waukesha mayoral candidate (2014)
Community Involvement: Waukesha Parks, Recreation and Forestry Board member, Sign Appeals Board member
Family: Wife, Cheryl; four children (Matthew, John, David and Elizabeth)