Election Story

The City of Watertown has multiple races on the ballet for April 5ths election. Four Common Council seats and the Mayor are up for election. The current Mayor is the Honorable John David. David’s term expires this April, however he is running for reelection. Terms for Mayor are three years.

John David, the incumbent, is running against Jordan Turner, who announced his candidacy on December first 2015. John David has held city offices for over a decade. Jordan turner is still attending college where he is studying law. Turner worked as a reporter covering social issues and also served a one year term on a national organization’s Advisory Board, in which he advised the President, Ingrid Newkirk, on animal rescue and educational campaign strategies.

John David is a lifelong resident of Watertown and is very proud of his City. David is proud of Watertown’s Industrial and Commercial base as well as its agricultural ties and farmland. David said, “There are many reasons to visit or locate to Watertown; housing, industry, schools, shopping, recreation; but our best asset is the people of Watertown.  They are friendly, energetic and hardworking.” David would like to continue working for the people of his city if reelected in April.

Jordan Turner is running with the slogan of, “A Fresh Start!” Turner, also a Watertown resident, attended Watertown high school, and is currently working toward a law degree. Turner said, “I am running for mayor because I believe we can turn our community into an example for other Wisconsin cities.” He says he’d do this by creating the city’s first Citizen Advisory Board, in an effort to increase the cities transparency. Turner would like to increase the minimum wage for large business employees to ten dollars and ten cents. He would also like to reduce the Mayor’s salary, “by at least ten thousand dollars” which he would redirect to the Watertown Police Department. He would also like federal funding which would be used for body cameras for the city’s Police Officers, in order to encourage citizens to interact with law enforcement and to aid in prosecuting criminals. Turner would also like to encourage business to return to Watertown.

The winner of this election will have many responsibilities. The mayor is responsible for budgeting with the assistance of the finance Committee, Personal Administration, Property management and inventory, supporting services of the Common council, Administration of the job descriptions and compensation plan of the city with the assistance of the Finance Committee, and Negotiate the sale and/or purchase of public property subject to Plan Commission and Common Council approval. The mayor also appoints department heads with the approval of the Common Council.

The new mayor and common council members will be decided at the April fifth election.

Whitewater Common Council Meeting

On March first, the Whitewater Common Council held a meeting to cover a range of topics including a possible library expansion and a new chastity for an ambulance.

Whitewater’s current public library is located at 431 W. Center St., near the downtown area. The library is rather small and the Library Board and Staff have been working towards expanding the library in some manner, for several years. University of Wisconsin Whitewater student and avid reader, Carly Siewert, said “The library is way too small. They have like three books.”

According to the Library Board and Staff, “Current facilities lack sufficient space for storage, collection materials, and gathering/programming space.” Unfortunately projections estimate that any expansion onto the current building would be around $10 million. This is not possible with the current budget. However, other options are being explored by Library Board and Staff, in an effort to lower the cost. They held a meeting with Troy Hoekstra of United Development Solutions and discussed combining the library construction project with a large hotel development. This could mean possibly moving the current library to another location, but would make the construction much more affordable.

The funding for the project would be financed by public sources, private equity investment, and new market tax credits. New market tax credits is a program that was established to spur developers to build in low-income communities. The program gives tax credit incentives to investors for equity investments.

A similar development is currently being constructed in Platteville, Wisconsin, which is expected to be completed in March of new year. This method of financing would result in the City getting the new library for a good amount less than the cost to build it.

The board did not have to make a decision this meeting, but still spent around forty five minutes discussing the topic. Council member Stephanie Goettl said that the city has been wanting a new hotel as well, but they “Have to be careful when approaching the greatest deal.” There was some concern on the location of the new library and possible hotel, which has not been decided yet.

The second big item discussed at the meeting was the addition of a high strength waste receiving station, which is part of the Whitewater Waste Treatment Plant upgrade project.

This project would include the construction of an all concrete twenty five thousand gallon tank and cover and other equipment and utilities necessary. According to the Assistant City Manager, “This improvement will allow high strength waste (HSW) from outside sources to be pumped into existing city digesters.”

The addition of this high strength receiving station would generate methane gas that would be used to heat water for several utility buildings.

Several options were discussed at the meeting regarding the addition. The one that was discussed the most was a possible contract with Baker Tilly to find a joint venture, which would cost between ten thousand and sixty thousand dollars. Cameron Clapper, the City Manager, said they did not have enough knowledge to turn it down. Board member, Ken Kidd, responded saying, “So far they’re pretty greedy.” The addition was rejected in a vote five to two.