Three incumbents cite Village Board work while two hopefuls see need for change
Who’s best qualified to help lead the Village of Grafton as it tackles the challenges of managing commercial and residential growth, upgrading public services and holding the line on spending?
Three members of the Village Board are hoping to continue their work as they vie for new terms in a Tuesday, April 7, election that also includes two challengers.
Incumbents David Antoine, James Grant and Dean Proefrock are joined by first-time public-office seekers Thomas Krueger and Eric Lusty in a race for three two-year seats.
In presenting their achievements at a recent candidates forum, the incumbents said there’s no reason for board changes.
“Grafton has a good future with planned, structured growth,” said Grant, whose 26 years in Grafton government includes the last 12 as a village trustee.
“We need strong, experienced leadership.”
Antoine, who has held a variety of leadership roles on local civic groups and been a trustee since 2011, cited his work “as one of Grafton’s biggest cheerleaders and promoters.”
Proefrock, a former assistant Grafton fire chief, said he’s eager to win his first election since being appointed to a vacant board seat in 2013.
“Grafton has a lot to offer. I want to be part of maintaining that and going forward for many years,” Proefrock said.
Krueger cited his work as the village’s utility director, a job he held for 26 years until retiring in 2014.
“I will be looking for the most cost-effective ways” to make municipal budget decisions, he said.
Lusty, a retired Ozaukee County sheriff’s deputy, described himself as “the new kid on the block” in village government.
Noting his involvement in area civic groups and as a member of the village’s Historic Preservation Commission, Lusty said he wants “to give what I can to Grafton.”
Lusty praised the work of the Village Board but believes more can be done.
“I’d like there to be a better relationship between the school district and village,” he said.
Lusty also said a strong bond between the village and town could lead to the municipalities merging.
“Within 20 years, we could become one. We need to look forward, to be all encompassing,” he said.
Krueger said his “long working knowledge of the Village of Grafton” would be an asset to the board.
With his engineering background, Krueger said, he makes “decisions always supported by documentation.”
“Being a challenger, I know this is an uphill battle,” Krueger said. “But I have a pretty long record of public service.”
Antoine said he has helped the village forge strong working relationships with the town and school district. He praised the village’s managed-growth approach to development.
Village officials have worked hard, Antoine said, to attract businesses to the downtown, freeway corridor and south commercial district and ensure that a proposed senior housing development in the Village Pointe Commons will be a quality addition to the community.
“I think the Village Pointe Commons will be fantastic, and that will bring other commercial things to the south commercial district,” Antoine said.
“Grafton is going to be a destination place.”
Grant said he has made public safety a high priority, especially during a period of rapid business and residential growth.
“I want a safe community. We put a lot of effort into it,” said Grant, chairman of the village’s Public Safety Commission.
“We have full (police and fire) services with a consistent tax rate.”
Proefrock said his 23 years as a member of the Grafton Volunteer Fire Department helped him understand the importance of cooperation and underscore his commitment to the community.
“We learned how to work with the Village Board,” he said.
In his job as an estimator at Frank Mayer & Associates, Proefrock said, he has to be cost-conscious, an asset that helps him make sound fiscal decisions as a trustee.
All five candidates agreed that the creation of tax incremental financing districts — which earmark property taxes in designated areas for public improvements — have helped spur development in the village. They also acknowledged that commercial growth presents new challenges, including increased demand on public services.
Antoine said his biggest concern “is maybe too much commercial development along I-43.”
New businesses along the freeway have generated more traffic and potential crime problems, including “drug trafficking between Milwaukee and Green Bay,” Antoine said.
Grant agreed but believes village officials have met the challenge. “We have concerns, but we have been on top of things,” he said.
For Proefrock, the flow of heroin and other narcotics into Grafton and other suburban communities is a dangerous threat.
“It’s horrible. It has the potential to destroy many families,” he said. “We need to make fighting that a priority.”
With his background in law enforcement, Lusty said he is well aware of the challenges in combating problems with illegal drugs and drunken driving.
But Lusty also said he is concerned with the impact of the Village Pointe Commons development on police and fire protection.
“With three phases (of senior care), we will have a lot of man-hours involved,” Lusty said.
Krueger said village officials need to continue recognizing the pitfalls that accompany business and residential growth.
“I think that with development on I-43, that increases the chances of crime coming to Grafton,” he said.