‘Common sense,’ facts at center of District 2 race

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Kayla Bunge
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Alderman Gary Payson Sr. is relieved the city has resolved the debate over where to relocate the police department.

So is Gerald Norton, but he also is disappointed the city “wasted” money studying options for a new police station when it chose to move the department to the old downtown courthouse.

Payson, who is completing his second term on the city council, and Norton, who has never held public office, are vying to represent the city’s 2nd District.

Norton is campaigning on a promise to bring common sense to the city council so taxpayers know how their tax dollars are being spent, while Payson is relying not only on his experience on the city council but also his record of making decisions based on the facts presented.

Police department

Norton is critical of the city council for flip-flopping on the issue of whether to build a new police station in Tasch Park for $2.6 million or remodel vacant space in the Walworth County Government Center for $1.7 million.

“They voted one way, then turned around and voted the other way,” he said. “Where’s the common sense?”

Norton said he’s pleased the city council ultimately chose the most cost effective option but he’s disgusted it cost thousands of dollars just to explore the options.

“They spent money on studies and re-studies,” he said. “And now it’s all gone.”

But Payson said there was good reason the city council approved building a new police station in the park and then reneged on that decision in favor of remodeling space at the government center. Both decisions were made based on the facts presented at the time, he said.

“When we found out we (the city) owned the (downtown) square, that changed the whole program,” he said.

Payson said the city council was driven by the prospect of turning the old downtown courthouse into a municipal campus when the county offices eventually are moved to the county complex on County NN. That would free up space in the old downtown courthouse for city offices, which already have outgrown the existing city hall.

Street project

Norton also is critical of the city for its handling of the North Wisconsin Street project, which included replacement of the water and sewer water lines underground.

“They shouldn’t have started it until they could complete it,” he said.

Norton said the project was started too close to winter and now the street, after a temporary patch job, is a mess.

“They’re just going ahead without any common sense,” he said.

But Payson said the North Wisconsin Street project has gone according to plan.

The reconstruction—mandated by the state Department of Natural Resources to address stormwater issues in the area—is funded 90 percent by the state and 10 percent by the city, he said. The contract with the state required the city to have its work done by April 1 or the city would face penalties.

“We don’t want to pay penalties,” Payson said. “So we discussed what made sense, and what made sense was to start underground last fall to make sure that if we had … snow on the ground at the end of March, we wouldn’t be in the way.”


Gerald A. Norton

Age: 72

Address: 1219 MacLean Road, Elkhorn.

Job: Retired founder and president of GAN Antenna & Garage Door Service, Elkhorn; former patrol sergeant for the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office.

Education: Graduate of Elkhorn High School.

Community service: Member of the Elkhorn Kiwanis Club; volunteer for the Walworth County Meals on Wheels program; trustee at First United Methodist Church, Elkhorn. He also was a member of the Elkhorn Police and Fire Commission in the 1990s, president of the Willow Run RV Condominium Association in the 1990s and the Town of Geneva Advisory Board in the 1970s.

Elected posts: None.

Gary Payson Sr. (I)

Age: 56

Address: 1229 Robincrest Lane, Elkhorn.

Job: Production planner at SPX Process Equipment, Delavan.

Education: Studied industrial engineering at Gateway Technical College and Milwaukee School of Engineering; studied business administration at the University of Phoenix in Albuquerque, N.M.

Community service: Former co-chairman of Elkhorn Community in Harmony; former president of a Toastmasters Club chapter in Albuquerque, N.M.; former Boy Scout leader.

Elected posts: Elkhorn alderman, 1994-96, 2006-present.

Last updated: 9:49 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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