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Newcomer, veteran square off in Muskego election

Candidates for alderman express views on development

March 17, 2013

Muskego - The aldermanic race in Muskego's 2nd District features a political newcomer against a veteran, with each feeling their end of the spectrum offers the most to voters.

"I'm a political newcomer with no preconceived ideas or affiliations," Robert Hammel said, "so I'll listen to all sides and make the best decision for the citizens of Muskego."

On the other end of the spectrum is William "Butch" LeDoux, a member of the Parks and Recreation Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals who served two aldermanic terms from 1999 to 2003.

"I have aldermanic experience and know-how," LeDoux said. "I know the issues well and I'm involved in the city."

On the issues

Voters in the 2nd District will decide in the April 2 election who will represent them for the next two years.

Current alderman Kert Harenda cannot run in the 2nd District because his home is now in the 3rd District after the Common Council redistricted following the 2010 federal census.

In his campaign, Hammel is stressing prudent spending that he describes as getting enough return in terms of quality of life from the tax dollars spent. Keeping spending low is a major thrust for Hammel, who emphasized that the city must spend within its means.

LeDoux said the 2nd District has been quiet lately, but that he will be there to help residents with noise or construction-related complaints in connection with Janesville Road beautification to take place in part of the district. Beyond that, LeDoux promised a common sense, level-headed approach to issues where he would use experience gleaned from being active in the community since he came, not only in city government but as a more than 20-year member of the Tess Corners Volunteer Fire Department.

LeDoux lost re-election in a narrow race in 2003.

Growing business

Both candidates see attracting business as essential to lightening the tax load on homeowners, although neither has a specific plan to do that.

Hammel said he doesn't want to see Muskego follow the path of Brookfield, which lined up miles of commercial development along Bluemound Road.

"I'm sure people don't want to see Muskego get into that," Hammel said, adding that people like the smaller city feel while still being close to conveniences.

New development must have aesthetic appeal and fit into its surroundings with industries grouped together, he said.

LeDoux said the city is on the right track to ensuring appealing development with its insistence on quality construction on all four sides of buildings and limiting building heights. He supports both those initiatives, although LeDoux said he would consider taller developments if they make sense for the city.

Beyond that, LeDoux foresees the opportunity to think creatively to attract business to the newly widened and improved Janesville Road.

The long-stagnant, former Parkland Mall property might be in line for movement after the lawsuit against the city that has tied it up for years in court was dismissed recently, the candidates said.

"I'm willing to listen," Hammel said of any proposals that come before the city. If it makes sense for the city to buy the land, he would support that too.

LeDoux said the widening of Janesville Road past the former mall might rejuvenate the area so that a developer might want to buy the land and develop it.

In any case, LeDoux said he is very familiar with the Parkland Mall issues and that, "the city has to look at options to create a quality atmosphere in the middle of Muskego."

Although a lot of things could be done with the land, ultimate development should make sense for the area, he said.

More public involvement

When it comes to public input, both candidates wanted more of it.

Hammel said he doesn't want Muskego to be in what he saw as the position of New Berlin as it went through some recent development in its City Center. Too many people felt that things were pushed through, Hammel said. Regardless of whether that is true, New Berlin should have done more to dispel that perception, he said.

LeDoux said Muskego does a good job of letting people know about upcoming issues, but wants the Common Council to be more welcoming and encouraging for people to speak.

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