Who’s best qualified to serve on Village Board?

Incumbents, challengers put experience, talent on line in bid for trustee seats

Grafton Village Board candidates (top row, from left) David Liss, Sue Meinecke, John Gassert, (bottom row) Scott Manning, Lisa Uribe Harbeck and Mark Slaminski. Photos by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press Staff

Six candidates are seeking three Grafton Village Board seats in the Tuesday, April 3, election.

Incumbents Sue Meinecke, David Liss and Lisa Uribe Harbeck are being challenged by Mark Slaminski, Scott Manning and John Gassert.

Contenders for the board spoke during a candidate forum at the Rose-Harms American Legion Hall on Thursday, March 22, which was attended by more than 50 residents. Manning did not attend the event but spoke to Ozaukee Press afterward.

During the forum, candidates were asked if the village should continue pursuing a business park, after the Village Board shelved plans in February to develop land near Highway C and Ulao in the Town of Grafton that was to be annexed into the village.

Harbeck said the previous plan didn’t take into account the impact the business park would have on both communities, but she said a new business park would be a source for more tax revenue, employees and residents in the village.

Meinecke said she was open to the idea of developing another business park as long as the land currently resides in the village, noting there is available space in the village’s south commercial business district.

Slaminski said the village would need to find an ideal place for a business park that wouldn’t impact the residents. He also said the village’s tax structure depends on business parks.

Gassert, who is the chairman of the Village of Grafton’s Community Development Authority Committee, said the previous plan was too close to residential property in the town, but he is for a new business park if the right plans are in place.

Liss said the village should pursue another business park because many local businesses want to expand their operations.

Manning said vacant buildings in the village can be redeveloped, but he noted a need for another business park. He said one of the reasons he is running for the Village Board was because residents’ input was glossed over by officials in the previous business park proposal. 

Candidates were asked for their positions regarding the development of Stonewall Reserve, a new subdivision whose development requires the annexation from the Town of Cedarburg to the village.

Manning said the development is not contiguous with the village and he is concerned the subdivision has only one entry and exit point on Keup Road and Highway 60, which will affect traffic. He also said the 141-home subdivision will make the area too dense.

Gassert mentioned the subdivision is part of the village’s comprehensive plan and the development could be an opportunity for more families to join the Grafton School District. However, the development is part of the Cedarburg School District and can only be detached if approved by the Cedarburg School Board.

Slaminski said the subdivision will increase property taxes for the village, but he isn’t aware of all the details surrounding the proposed development.

Liss, who is a member of the village’s Plan Commission, voted against annexing the land earlier in this month because he said he couldn’t make a decision without all of his questions being answered.

According to Meinecke, the subdivision is an opportunity for more people to move into Grafton, which would increase the village’s tax base, but noted she was concerned about having village residents attending Cedarburg schools.

Harbeck mentioned the development will increase housing opportunities in an area where the village is lacking residents, noting the village needs more multi-family housing.

Another issue dividing the candidates is staffing for the Grafton Fire Department, which plans to add three full-time firefighter and paramedic positions over the next several years.

Slaminski said adding more firefighters would be a benefit to the community because safety is an ongoing need.

Gassert said he is for increasing the department’s staff because the village is becoming more of a bedroom community where residents are employed outside of Grafton, which adds stress to a volunteer fire department.

Manning said a growing population in the village needs more firefighters, noting there are a number of elderly residents who need emergency medical assistance. He said there should be a calculated ratio of firefighters per residents.

Harbeck mentioned the village should consider consolidating the fire department, similar to the North Shore Fire Department, because the fire department is losing volunteers.

Liss, who is a member of the department, cited his experience about the number of hours volunteers work and said three full-time members would ease the burden for staffing.

Meinecke said the decision should be taken to referendum for the voters to decide if there should be more full-time staff, noting the village is held under budgetary restraints.

Candidates were asked their opinion about the village’s Emergency Medical Dispatch program, which will lose its medical direction and oversight from Aurora Health Care in May.

Meinecke said all the village’s dispatchers are trained and certified through EMD to give medical direction during emergency calls, saying the service is “fabulous” for the community.

Harbeck said the village should search for a new medical director, because the village is liable without an EMD provider. She noted she has seen improvements with the program, after the village didn’t earn accreditation for EMD in December.

Liss said the EMD program provides the proper medical advice for callers, which is a benefit to the safety of the community, but the program puts an extra burden on the Grafton Police Department’s dispatchers.

Manning noted the town transferred its emergency calls to Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office in December, which the village should do in the interim while finding a new medical director. 

Slaminski said the program is needed in the village and he would hate to see it terminated.

Gassert said EMD service is essential for residents in a growing community but that the program could be consolidated with other communities.

Village trustees serve two-year terms.




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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.

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