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Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008

South Side County Board Seat in Play

Nyklewicz era ends with retirement

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Milwaukee County Supervisor Richard Nyklewicz Jr., the powerful chair of the Finance and Audit Committee who has been instrumental in restoring cuts made to county services and programs in recent years, is retiring after 33 years on the board.

His successor will face a number of critical issues within the district, such as discussions about privatizing or leasing Mitchell International Airport and the state Department of Transportation’s potential I-94 ramp closings at 27th Street. The new supervisor will also face countywide problems such as tight finances, mass transit planning and providing human services.

Four candidates have entered the race. They are:

Jason Haas: Bay View resident Haas, a communications assistant at CapTel Inc., is completing a history degree at UW- Milwaukee. His top issues are clean parks, clean air and clean government. Haas said he was motivated to run because of the state of Humboldt Park and the potential closing of wading pools by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s budget cuts. Haas said he would work to bring in a larger portion of shared revenue from the state to cover mandated services. Haas, a board member of the Milwaukee Biodiesel Co-op, said that county buses should run on biodiesel and that the county could save “a tremendous amount of money brewing biodiesel with restaurant fry grease.” Haas said he opposes the privatization of the airport and other assets because they are short-term fixes for long-term problems. He also opposes the diversion of traffic from 27th Street because it is a major com- mercial corridor in the district. For more: haas414.wordpress.com.

Steven F. Kraeger: This is businessman Kraeger’s second run for this seat; he said he wasn’t able to “overcome the incumbent advantage” in 2004. Kraeger said that his main issues are taxes—he supports Walker’s zero-percent tax increase promise and said he would be Walker’s “backup on the board” if the county executive is reelected—jobs and fighting government expansion. Kraeger called light rail “a horrible money pit,” saying “I don’t even support the study of light rail.” He said that some portions of county-owned land could be sold or leased to bring in revenue, such as some parkland along commercial streets and a small parcel of airport land at the corner of Howell and Howard avenues. He said that he didn’t know if the changes planned for 27th Street were feasible. Kraeger said that he would not be part of the county’s pension plan, saying that having county supervisors vote on pension matters was a conflict of interest.

Christopher Larson: Larson manages the Third Ward outlet of InStep Running and Walking Centers, and said his biggest motivation is to ensure that the park system is fully funded. He said that the county has been providing enough services to get by, “but that doesn’t attract people or businesses to the county.” Larson, who has a degree in finance, supports raising the corporate tax rate at the state level to relieve homeowners’ property taxes. He said he would like to revisit the discussion about a small sales tax increase to fund parks and other programs. Larson opposes the privatization of the airport. He said revenues could be raised in the long-term with county-owned parking structures and better promotion of the airport and transit options. Larson has been endorsed by the Milwaukee County Labor Council AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals. For more: www.votelarson08.com.

Sebastian Raclaw: Raclaw is a Milwaukee Police Department detective assigned to the Criminal Investigation Bureau, Robbery Unit, and is a former vice president of the Milwaukee Police Association (MPA). In 2005 he was elected to the City of Milwaukee Employees Retirement System, Annuity and Pension Board, where he helps to oversee a $5 billion pension fund. Raclaw said that experience would help him deal with the underfunding of the county pension system.

Raclaw said more county revenues could be raised by adding a sales tax or fee on some services. He would support further funding of the sheriff’s office and the court system, and opposes the privatization of the airport. Raclaw opposes the plans to divert traffic from the 27th Street corridor, saying that it puts businesses and safety in jeopardy. Raclaw has been endorsed by County Executive Walker, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, state Sen. Jeff Plale, the MPA and others. For more: raclaw.blogspot.com.

The Bay View Compass and the Bay View Neighborhood Association are sponsoring a candidate forum on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the Lake Express Terminal Lobby, at 2330 S. Lincoln Memorial Drive, at 7 p.m. What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com.

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