Incumbents tout work on board, hopefuls claim to have fresh perspectives
The five candidates for the three seats on the Saukville Village Board all tout experience as their strongest attribute, but the nature of that experience varies greatly.
Incumbent trustees Robert Hamann, Daniel Sauer and Jen Schoenfeldt are all seeking new two-year terms, as are challengers Stacey Frey and Brian Peschel.
Hamann has the longest tenure on the board among the candidates, first gaining election in 2003. Schoenfeldt was first elected in 2006, and Sauer won his first term as trustee in 2008.
However, the challengers also bring a wealth of experience to the race.
Frey has been the executive director of the Saukville Chamber of Commerce for the past six years.
Peschel has taken an active interest in village government, attending most meetings for the past five years and serving on the Oscar Grady Library Board and the police building citizen ad hoc committee. He was a candidate for trustee in 2009 and 2007.
“I am running for re-election because I enjoy the opportunity to serve the residents of the village. Being retired, I have plenty of time to do that,” said Hamann.
“My years of service on the board have given me an insight into the workings of village government. I believe this makes me an effective board member. I was especially able to contribute a great deal of time to the police construction project.”
Sauer said he takes pride in keeping a close eye on spending.
“I feel I have been a common sense, solid conservative voice on the Village Board. I bring real-world, financial experience to the board that allows me to look at issues from an analytical perspective, rather than basing decisions simply on what may be politically popular,” he said.
“What allows me to stand out from others is the financial knowledge I bring to the table. In my career, I look at business investments both logically and methodically. I use these skills and offer the same approach when looking at the issues brought before the board.”
Schoenfeldt said she is passionate about the opportunity to serve the village while keeping a wary eye on finances.
“The money that is spent, we try hard to spend it like it is our own and the decisions that are made are with the best interest of the village residents and businesses,” she said.
“I still have that fire in my belly and passion to continue to mold the village into the outstanding community which it has become.”
Frey shares that positive perception of Saukville and feels it is time she does more to shape that image.
“I would like to take a more active leadership role in the community,” she said.
Peschel said his goal is to bring “fresh blood” to the board.
“For too many elections, it has been the same faces over and over again on the ballot. I will try to bring some fiscal restraint to the Village Board. After attending meetings for over five years, I have grown tired of hearing, ‘All the surrounding communities do it, so we should also,’” he said.
“I feel there has been reluctance in the current board to make the hard decisions to help control spending. I feel the fact that I am not on the board now is an asset. New ideas are necessary at this point.”
Hamann said holding the line on taxes continues to be the biggest challenge for the board.
“This is very challenging, as other sources of village revenue — such as Wisconsin shared revenue, interest income, building permit revenue — are down significantly from previous years and may stay low for the near future,” he said.
Another challenge, Hamann said, will be negotiating labor agreements with the village’s two unions this year.
Sauer said the current “recessionary environment” will plague the village and its residents.
“I believe it is the role of the Village Board to make responsible, cost-effective decisions on behalf of our constituents. I also feel that the residents do not want the typical political rhetoric that has become so pervasive lately. My straightforward
approach to making decisions has exemplified this,” he said.
Schoenfeldt said her business background has given her skills in listening, reasoning and problem solving.
“Too often, I think people make decisions based on past experiences and do not look outside the box enough,” she said.
“Sometimes you have to look outside that box and take a leap of faith. There will be many difficult decisions to be made. I have the knowledge from my past experience on the board to make educated decisions. I promise not to be afraid to think
outside the box.”
Frey said she likes the approach the village has taken on spending.
“I think the village is on the correct path with the challenges of the community and the budget they have to work with. I believe my past experience with problem solving through communication with the village president and administrator will be an asset to the board,” she said.
Peschel said the village can’t afford to sit back and be a victim of the economy.
“With the downturn in the economy, the biggest challenge is dealing with the decrease in revenue. The best way to increase revenue is to increase businesses in the village, whether that be retail, office or light industry,” he said.
All five candidates said they have a vision of better times ahead for the community.
“I would like to see more growth in the village to help keep taxes down or with as little increase as possible, yet keeping with the traditions of a small community,” Frey said. “I think if we as a community support our local businesses, we may be able to keep and attract more.”
Peschel was even more specific about the potential for business growth.
“Saukville has some wonderful assets, making it unique in Ozaukee County. On the southeast side, with Marcus Theatres and Rhythm ‘n’ Brews as anchors, we have the opportunity to create the destination for nightlife entertainment,” he said.