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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cudahy Mayoral Race: Day vs. McCue

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Cudahy Mayor Ryan McCue finished second to challenger Tony Day in the primary election, 1,297 to 903 votes. The April 6 general election is a rematch between Day, 62, a retiree with 41 years of banking experience, and McCue, 35, formerly a Cudahy alderman and Milwaukee County supervisor. McCue said he wants to build on his past three years in office, retaining Cudahy's existing businesses, attracting new economic development, sprucing up downtown, and promoting homeowner-occupancy. McCue said he's the only candidate proposing a property tax freeze in 2011 and the only candidate who is committed to serving Cudahy full-time and for the long term. Day did not make himself available for an interview.

McCue: "Continue the Progress We've Started"

Incumbent McCue said Cudahy was once known as an anti-business community but that now the polar opposite is true, partly because of a streamlined 90-day approval process for new businesses. He also hired Cudahy's first-ever full-time economic development director, Lara Fritts. McCue said she's already brought in more than $800,000 in grants.

McCue cited Datastore, FedEx, Skyline Catering, and Rexnord as examples of Cudahy businesses expanding under his watch despite the tough economy. McCue also deserves credit for retaining businesses he said were considering leaving: Patrick Cudahy, National Tissue, Roadrunner Transportation Services, and Steelsmyth.

"They were looking at all of their options. And when I heard that, Lara and I went into their offices, met with the presidents of their companies and persuaded them to stay in the city of Cudahy," McCue said.

He points to the anticipated Cobalt Partners retail development at the southwest corner of Layton and Pennsylvania avenues and another development at Layton and Kingan as positive indicators. McCue added that the city has started a faade grant program, which will increase curb appeal at 17 downtown businesses, and rolled out "welcome wagon" financial incentives to attract businesses.

"We're positioned to take full advantage of the economic recovery," McCue said.

When McCue took office in 2007, Cudahy was being sued and in the middle of a foreclosure lawsuit over the aborted Iceport facility, which McCue said attorneys expected would last until 2012.

"In two and a half years I got the land back free and clear, no liens, and we prevailed in the $5.3 million lawsuit. Now the land is ours to develop," McCue said. "The Iceport fiasco, which my opponent supported and voted for on numerous occasions, has cost the city $3.9 million—plus all the lost [potential] development over the last eight years."

McCue opposed the Wal-Mart and Milwaukee Wave training facility later proposed for the same site because the Wave wanted $10 million of city money, he said.

An undisclosed area heavy manufacturer is "extremely interested" in expanding to the Iceport site, McCue said, and the city is considering adding a rail spur to accommodate it.

"It would be 300,000 square feet and up to 900 family-supporting jobs," McCue said.

As mayor, McCue added a police officer, detective, K-9 unit, two school safety officers, and crime suppression unit. McCue also takes pride that Cudahy was held up as a model for emergency preparedness following last summer’s Patrick Cudahy fire.

His privatizing the assessor’s department saved $133,000 annually; combining the public works and engineering department heads, $139,000; having city employees pay a portion of their health care, $95,000; and McCue said paying off the city’s unfunded pension debt saved $11.3 million long-term. Cudahy’s bond rating was upgraded to AA-, he said.

Cudahy is benefiting from neighborhood stabilization grants, McCue said, and he’s working with the Milwaukee Community Service Corps to convert duplexes and foreclosed homes into single-family, owner-occupied homes.

McCue is endorsed by the Cudahy Professional Police Association and Steelworkers Union, Local 29.

"The city of Cudahy is on the right track," McCue said. "I want to continue the progress we’ve started."

To learn more about Ryan McCue, go to ryanmccue.com.

Day: Wants Part-Time Mayor

Tony Day did not comment for this story, but participated in a March 23 debate hosted by the League of Women Voters, which is posted on YouTube.

During the debate, Day suggested Cudahy’s mayor should become a part-time position, with the addition of a new full-time city administrator. He said this could reduce costs, with a mayor’s salary reduced from $64,471 to about $22,000, and by enabling the administrator to perform negotiations.

McCue counters that this would be "more taxation and less representation. If that occurs, the city of Cudahy will not have a single full-time elected official at City Hall."

In the debate, Day also said he favored a referendum on whether citizens wanted Wal-Mart at the Iceport site. McCue said a court stipulation regarding the lawsuit made holding a referendum impossible.

According to his campaign Web site, Day wants to "promote business development through the Cudahy Chamber of Commerce's involvement" and expand the role of the Cudahy Community Development Authority (CDA), on which Day once served. Day also said he prefers the city's old residency requirement for staff, which McCue said is no longer practical to attract the best personnel.

To learn more about Tony Day, go to tonyday.info.