Didier, Rychtik being challenged by Anewenter, Fieber in race for two supervisory seats on Port board
Town of Port Washington residents have a full slate of candidates from which to select town supervisors Tuesday.
Incumbents Mike Didier and Jim Rychtik, who are completing their first term in office, are being challenged for their seats by Terry Anewenter and John Fieber, both former Plan Commission members.
Running unopposed on Tuesday’s ballot are Town Chairman Jim Melichar, Clerk Jenny Schlenvogt and Treasurer Mary Sampont.
All of the candidates said they believe the town’s decision to privatize much of its road work — including snowplowing, ditch cutting, some road construction and maintenance projects — rather than contract with Ozaukee County has proven to be a good one.
Anewenter said, “You can’t argue with the results this year. If it’s truly saving money, you can’t argue with it.”
“I was nervous initially,” Didier said of the town’s decision to privatize snowplowing. “But it’s working well. We’ve had a lot of positive responses and only a few negatives.
“At a minimum, we’re getting the same amount of services for less money.”
“The private contractor seems to be a little more responsive,” Fieber said. “In general, I think things have improved.”
Rychtik added, “I think we’ve gotten what we expected. I’m proud it’s worked so well. In general, people seem happy.”
Rychtik, 42, of 4855 Hwy. B., said the board has made inroads during the past two years but there’s still work to be done.
“I think we’ve been a productive board,” he said. “I think most people who have come before us have probably left happy.
“We’ve worked to make government more transparent.”
Rychtik, owner of Rychtik Construction, said the board is working to get more public input on projects it considers, pointing to the recent public hearing on Green Bay Road.
“Too often, what’s lost in government is officials listening to the people,” he said. “We want to listen to our residents.”
Rychtik, who said officials need to be open to development, suggested the town form a steering committee of residents to take a look at plans for the Knellsville area.
“That way, when things start to happen we’re going to be ready,” he said.
Fieber, a retired executive vice president at Kuttner North America, said he would like the town to look at ways to reinvigorate the Knellsville Business Park concept it championed several years ago.
“We finished that up and the economy took a nose dive,” he said. “I’d like to review that whole plan. Five years later, is there something we can do better? Looking at it optimistically, how can we market the area? Let’s see what’s available to us.”
When the economy picks up, he said, the freeway interchange is going to be a logical place for development to occur.
Fieber said he would also like to see if the town can do more to upgrade its roads — a topic he said he’s brought up numerous times.
Didier, 39, of 4627 Hwy. KW, said he’s spent the last two years learning how things work.
“Now that I’m in the swing of things, I’m ready to tackle two more years,” he said. “The past two years weren’t what I expected.”
He thought budget issues would be the most difficult, Didier said, and land-use issues would be easier. The opposite proved to be true.
“The land-use balance is challenging,” said Didier, who is a real estate agent. “People do have the right to do things with their property, but many times that conflicts with the town’s land-use plan. We have to walk a delicate line. It takes a lot of thought.
“Budgeting is easy. If you don’t have the money, you don’t spend it.”
The town’s decisions to privatize roadwork and take over the garbage and recycling operations have all helped the bottom line, Didier noted.
The town isn’t facing any major issues right now, he said, allowing officials to focus instead on day-to-day matters.
Fieber, 64, of 3200 Northwoods Rd., said a seat on the Town Board would allow him to do more for the town than he could on the Plan Commission, particularly when it comes to setting policy and procedures.
“With my engineering background and business experience, I think I can offer some help with planning and looking at the long-term picture,” he said. “That’s one of my strengths.”
Anewenter, 58, of 3693 Hwy. KK, said he wants to see the board reflect divergent viewpoints, adding it should become a more approachable body that works to help residents.
Anewenter, a farmer who served on the Plan Commission for several years in the 1990s, described himself as a conservative candidate who will look out for town finances, saying he believes the Town Board spends too much money.
“In these times, I think you have to watch your money,” he said, adding he would not accept the $5,000 annual salary that comes with the position if elected.
He pointed to a recent board decision to contribute $750 to fund the Ozaukee County Economic Development Corporation as an example, saying he believes the town could attract just as much development on its own.
The estimated $200,000 cost to remove the Highland Road overpass at the Ozaukee Interurban Trail is too much, he added.
And, he said, the $39,000 salary paid to Schlenvogt, a part-time clerk, is “outrageous.”
“It should be a source of great embarrassment,” Anewenter said, noting teachers in the Milwaukee Public School System likely make a similar amount for a full-time job. “We’re a small town.”