Water, development focus of trustee forum
Cook only candidate opposing municipal water referendum
Municipal water was the hot topic at the Elm Grove Board of Trustees forum held at Village Hall on March 25.
About 20 residents showed up to listen to incumbents Jack Nelson, Andrew Azpell and Christi Torkelson and challenger David Cook at the forum sponsored by the Elm Grove Business Association.
Candidate Charles Wickens was not present at the forum due to a personal matter but sent a spokeswoman in his place.
The majority of the candidates spoke of the need for municipal water in the village not only to ensure safe water, but also to help grow the village's tax base.
The only candidate who spoke against municipal water was David Cook.
"I am opposed to the municipal water project," Cook told audience members. "I am going to vote against it. I believe Elm Grove's greatest achievement is avoiding getting municipal water as long as it has."
Cook wasn't the only person at the forum to raise concerns about the referendum and its timing.
Mary Inden, local business owner and resident, said the April 7 water utility referendum is a huge issue in the village.
"I am totally opposed to having the referendum now and setting up a utility," she told the candidates. "I think it's way too soon. We have just barely finished our flood mitigation."
During the time of the flood mitigation project, Inden said, business owners lost millions of dollars in revenue combined.
"Please reconsider the timing of this," she told them, referring to the economy.
Azpell told Inden that even if the referendum passes, construction could be years away.
Torkelson told the audience delaying municipal water would not make it any cheaper.
Nelson said water is going to be one of the biggest issues in this century and beyond.
"We have access to it today. We don't know what's going to happen in the future," Nelson said. "We think there are benefits across the board with water."
More businesses needed
Candidates were also asked how they would support business growth in the community.
Nelson said the tax base is shifting to be more residential than commercial.
"We are trying to make an even playing ground for the businesses in the community," Nelson said.
Nelson said some of the ways the village is trying to achieve this is through municipal water and making downtown more pedestrian friendly.
"The village has been making big steps in trying to develop the downtown area," Azpell said, adding that he supports the water referendum and what it would do for the community.
Wickens' spokeswoman, Jana Pagel, read a statement for him.
"I am seeking election for village trustee so that I may apply my talents to ensure that we have the necessary leadership capacity and energy to take on the most pressing challenges that we face as a village today and in our future," Wickens wrote.
Lori Weiss can be reached at (262) 446-6645.
Questions for the trustee candidates? Call them at
DAVID COOK: (262) 786-8275
CHARLES WICKENS: (262) 439-9034
CHRISTINE TORKELSON: (262) 789-1631
ANDREW AZPELL: (262) 786-2037
JACK NELSON: (262) 784-6885
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