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You asked, mayoral hopefuls answered

March 4, 2014

NOW Newspapers asked readers what questions they have for the candidates.

One reader submitted a question to Brookfield NOW about a decision several years ago by the Common Council to obtain land from private property owners to build the fire station on Greenfield Avenue and Calhoun Road. The question was directed to Speaker, who was mayor at the time, but was posed to both candidates.

Q "In your past service, you cast a vote to invoke eminent domain on some Brookfield residents' private property. I believe that this was a major reason for your defeat in the last election. Should you be re-elected, would you still consider using eminent domain in any other format that directly involves a Brookfield resident's private property?"

A Speaker said that while the council did vote to allow the city to use eminent domain for the fire station, the city never had to invoke it because a negotiator was able to settle on prices with the property owners at which they were willing to sell.

Although he said that decision may have lost him some votes, he discounted it as a "major reason" for his defeat.

"For some other voters, it may have been the turning point to have them vote for me," he said. "The fire station was such a needed improvement there."

Speaker said he couldn't say whether he would use eminent domain in the future, noting it would depend on the circumstance.

A Ponto, who was an alderman at the time, said he thought each of the private property owners were able to move to "better situations" and receive a premium price for their land.

In the future, he said, he would be very cautious about using the eminent domain power.

"I personally am very hesitant about exercising eminent domain because it really is a very significant government power and should only be done for a really good purpose," he said.

Ask the candidates

■ Submit your questions for the mayoral candidates to rlinnane@jrn.com and look for the answers in next week's issue.

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