Olsen faces Stone in District 1 race
As a local funeral director, he talks to a lot of people about a lot of things, and over the last few years, he's learned the city could use some direction.
Olsen, who previously served three terms on the city council, and David Stone, who currently serves on the plan commission, park and recreation board and tree commission, are vying to represent the city's 1st District.
Stone did not return several phone messages and e-mails seeking an interview.
Olsen said the city must be vigilant in treating all residents—student renters, landlords and single-family homeowners—fairly when it comes to enforcing its housing-related ordinances.
Councilmember Roy Nosek has trumpeted the destruction of the single-family neighborhoods near the UW-Whitewater campus, slinging much of his criticism at students.
But Olsen said it's not just the students who are to blame for loud noise, trash strewn about lawns and cars parked on the street.
"I think the community needs to step up a little and set some guidelines," he said. "I'm not sure it's all being done the right way."
Olsen said if he is elected, he would form a committee to do an in-depth study of "what's really going on" with code enforcement.
"Everybody needs to be treated equally, and I don't know that's being done," he said.
Olsen said as long as residents follow the city's ordinances, and as long as the city is properly enforcing its ordinances, there shouldn't be problems.
Olsen said the city must be cognizant of spending while maintaining the high level of service residents have come to expect—and as such, spending money to install a traffic signal on Main Street is not wise.
The city council is awaiting cost estimates to install a stoplight at Main and Whiton streets—the intersection where UW-Whitewater graduate Michael Chaloupka, 23, was hit by a car while crossing the street in his wheelchair in late August. He died about two weeks later.
Olsen said the crash was a tragic accident but doesn't support the spending of more than $100,000 to install a traffic signal.
"I drive that stretch a lot. My business is right there. My feeling is we don't need a stoplight every block," he said.
Olsen suggests Main Street be better lit by overhead street lights. He also said pedestrians must use crosswalks appropriately, and drivers must obey the speed limit and other traffic controls.
"I don't know that we need to spend that kind of money to stop traffic where it's already going," he said.
Address: 303 W. Ann St., Whitewater.
Age: Declined to comment
Job: Self employed
Education: Graduate of Whitewater High School; bachelor's degree in biology from UW-Whitewater.
Community service: Member of the Whitewater Breakfast Kiwanis Club; co-liaison to Circle K at UW-Whitewater; member of the Whitewater Plan and Architectural Review Commission, 2006-present, Park and Recreation Board, 2003-present, and Tree Commission, 2008-present.
Elected posts: None
James E. Olsen
Address: 216 N. Queen St., Whitewater.
Job: Manger and funeral director at Olsen Funeral Home, Whitewater and Jefferson.
Education: Attended UW-Whitewater; associate's degree in funeral service from Milwaukee Area Technical College.
Community service: Licensed foster parent; member of the Whitewater Chamber of Commerce; former volunteer firefighter with the Whitewater Fire Department, 1988-2008. He also served in the United States Marine Corps, 1975-77.
Elected posts: Whitewater City Council member, 1996-2002.