Budget, boosting business climate priorities in Village Board race
Four candidates vying to represent Elm Grove residents
Four candidates will run for three seats on the Elm Grove Village Board. Writer Patty Kujawa and volunteer firefighter Thomas Michalski will challenge long-time incumbents Andrew Apzell and Jack Nelson in the April 5 election.
Azpell's resume includes 14 years on the Village Board and 30 as a resident volunteer in Elm Grove government. He serves on the Legislative Committee, Public Works and Utilities Committee, Planning Commission and Administrative and Personnel Committee - over which he presides as chairman.
When asked about the village's top issues, Azpell was specific, citing the Watertown Plank Road project, state budget and water issues as major topics of concern.
He advocates a continuing exploration of obtaining Milwaukee water through Wauwatosa.
Patty Kujawa, a freelance writer and mother of three, moved to Elm Grove in 2003 and since has been an active volunteer with Elm Grove Junior Guild, Tonawanda Elementary School, Pilgrim Park Middle School, Sharon Lynne Wilson Center and several athletic teams.
She said the budget is a top priority. While the village doesn't face dire budgetary times, trickle-down effects from state budget woes will affect the village.
"The simple truth is we need to keep that delicate balance between attracting new businesses and keeping Elm Grove's special charm," she said. "We do have empty storefronts, so the question becomes, what does Elm Grove need?"
Kujawa suggested talking to resident to Elm Grove to find out the things that give Elm Grove its unique qualities and find ways to market them to outside communities.
Michaelski is a retired information technology specialist at Marquette University, where he worked for 30 years. He has been an Elm Grove firefighter for five years as well as a Public Works Committee member for one year.
"I fear the village is moving into a challenging point in time," he said. "With the state budget in deficit, shared revenue for local government may be reduced. Any individual need only look at the empty store fronts in our village to realize the economy is in a difficult position."
He also characterized public safety as a major priority.
Nelson, the district manager for Harris Investor Services, has been on the board for three two-year terms and has served on the Finance and Licensing, Recreation, Public Safety, Building Board, Legislative and Water committees.
He cited three major priorities for the coming term: maintaining fiscal responsibility, stabilizing property values and maintaining the quality of life in the village.
He cited a need for improvements to infrastructure, while balancing the village's historic charm with modern amenities to be able to effectively compete for the upper-income homebuyers.
"Outside groups have found the village an excellent venue for fundraising activities, bike races, etc. Additional opportunities should be found to raise awareness and draw people to the village," he said.
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