Monday, August 26th, 2019

Election results send message to City Hall


Publication: Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date: Feb 18, 2010; Section: Opinion; Page: 8A

Election results send message to City Hall

But is Scrima a good alternative to Nelson?

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

If nothing else, the columnists at The Freeman will have plenty to write about. I was asked point blank on my Web site a week ago if it was the incumbent Mayor Larry Nelson and Waukesha businessman Jeff Scrima in the general election, for whom would I vote? I answered, “There is something to be said for voting for the candidate who will supply me with the most copy for the next four years, and I’ll let it go at that for now.”

If there was a real winner on Tuesday, it was yours truly. Unfortunately, I also have to live here, so part of me will be watching the unfolding race with dismay right along with the rest of you.

The results of Tuesday’s election should send a message to city government.

Nelson making it through to the general election was not a surprise. He is the incumbent, after all, and the sole recipient of support from traditional Democratic sources, with the possible exception of the local environmentalists. But he finished second to a hitherto unknown businessman in his first try for public office.

Scrima found a populist cause with the water issue. City leaders should take note of how the public was willing to support (so far) Scrima when he came out against purchasing Milwaukee water because of possible strings on the deal. They will need to reassure residents that there will be no agreement with Milwaukee so long as Milwaukee insists on including policy issues in with the sale of Lake Michigan water.freeman 2-18 b

Scrima’s campaign to this point has been interesting. Not so much in the innovation of his ideas, but the innate need to pander that launches them.

In reaction to the pay raise for the mayor passed by the common council, Scrima promised during the primary to reduce his salary to $35,500 if elected mayor, roughly half of what the salary will be when the new term begins. What Scrima has yet to explain is any sort of reasoning behind the amount, because there is no reason.

If the theory is that the mayor should only be part-time, an idea Scrima rejects, then the salary would be much lower. If the position is truly full-time, then the salary would have to be higher.

Scrima just picked a number almost at random and said $35,500 is what he would accept as a salary. Voters should find this base pandering insulting.

At a candidate forum at Carroll University, the subject of the safety of the students crossing the street came up again. The simple pander would be to promise more crossing guard assistance, maybe a traffic cop. Scrima went full-pander with suggesting that tunnels under the road be explored as an option. Or, if that’s too expensive, maybe we could close some roads.

My favorite pandering flourish of Scrima’s was at the same candidate forum. Attempting to appeal to the co-sponsoring environmental group as well as the students present, Scrima actually suggested Waukesha should plow the bike trails, “like Madison.” At least he didn’t say we should plow the streets like Madison, too.

Think recycling is complicated now with the new schedule? Scrima wants us all to sort our recyclables, because it’s the right thing to do for the environment. Just when you thought his “green” credentials received enough buffing, Scrima called for a “multimodal transportation system.”

We won’t have to worry about accepting Milwaukee’s ideas for our city along with their water if Scrima is elected mayor. He’ll just adopt them without buying their water.

As for Nelson, I’ve certainly listed his faults aplenty in this space, including last week. My suggestion to him would be to quickly swipe some of Darryl Enriquez’s positions to offer voters some real reforms for the next four years. Nelson is likely not to listen.

I had suggested last week that, if the voters were inclined to fire Nelson, that the best candidate in opposition was Enriquez. The voters in Tuesday’s primary rejected my advice, and now the choice is between Scrima and Nelson.

Waukesha will have between now and April 6 to decide if the cure is worse than the disease.


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