Crowd eager to hear where would-be mayors stand

Port residents listen to candidates’ views on open government, development

Port Washington mayoral candidates Mary Becker and Adele Richert
Ozaukee Press staff

A standing-room-only crowd of almost 100 people was at Port Washington City Hall last week to hear mayoral candidates Marty Becker and Adele Richert face off in a forum before the Tuesday, April 3, election.

Becker, a pharmacist, and Richert, a retired financial manager, are vying to replace Mayor Tom Mlada, who is not seeking re-election.

The forum, organized by the League of Women Voters, focused in many ways on the development issues that have split the community in recent years — in particular, the proposed Blues Factory entertainment complex slated to be built on the north marina slip parking lot recently sold by the city, and other lakefront developments.

Becker said he supports the Newport Shores project proposed by Ansay Development, noting it is being planned for land that’s privately held.

But, he said, he isn’t sure the city should have sold public lakefront land for the Blues Factory.

“I think it’s a good venue but a bad location,” Becker said.

Richert said she is less concerned about the Blues Factory project than the process used to shepherd the plan through the approval process, saying the city needs an event venue.

She has some concerns over the design of the Newport Shores project, Richert said, primarily because of the amount of glass and the building’s proximity to the migratory path of birds.

Asked about the use of developer incentives in the downtown tax incremental financing district — a tool the city approved for the Blues Factory and Harbour Lights condominium buildings — Richert said she prefers not to use them because they involve long-term debt.

“The citizens need to decide if you want the city so encumbered by debt,” she said. “I think we have so many things to offer, why should we pay developers to come in?”

Becker said that like them or not, TIF districts are “a way of life.” He said he favors use of the districts for raw, undeveloped land, but questions their use for land that’s already been developed.

Developers, he added, should be able to finance projects without incentives.

“If you don’t have enough money to build a project, unfortunately, don’t build it,” Becker said.

Both candidates said the city too often goes into closed sessions to discuss issues.

“We have way too many closed sessions,” Becker said. “The more you have closed sessions, the more people question what’s going on. There’s no need for most of these closed sessions.”

Questions of what developers’ need in terms of finances, he added, should be open discussions.

Richert also said the need for closed sessions should be limited.

“The public should be informed,” she said.

Both candidates said they will give residents a voice in decisions that will affect them.

Richert said communication is key to everything the city does.

“In some respects, the Common Council has not done its job,” she said. 

She pledged to hold town hall meetings to give residents a place to express their views, adding, “I think that’s what is missing.”

Becker said it’s important that the public have a voice.

“Open government lets people know what you’re doing and how you’re doing it so they don’t feel closed out,” he said.

Becker said he isn’t sure how many people would attend town hall meetings, but said he would encourage people to email or call him with concerns.

“Most people know where I work. You see me on the street,” he said. “I’m willing to listen.”

In addition to town hall meetings, Richert said she would hold weekly coffees and teas in her office to encourage people to discuss the issues. She would also encourage aldermen to hold town hall meetings in their districts.

If they don’t, she said she would.


Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login