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Youth rules in Whitewater District 5 race

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Kayla Bunge
March 31, 2009
— City Council President Patrick Singer and former city councilmember Gregory Torres seem to agree the city must be fiscally responsible while working to attract businesses and homeowners.

Singer, who is completing his first term on the city council, and Torres, who held the preceding term, are vying to represent the city's 5th District.


Saving money

Torres said the city must "tighten up its belt" just as its residents have been forced to do in the face of a sour economy.


He is critical of the city for spending "as much as it can" within the 2 percent limit on municipal property tax levies. He said the city should make an effort to spend less and save more.


"The city just needs to put its foot down and make cuts," Torres said. "I'd rather see that money set aside for a rainy day."


Singer said he's already started the city on a path to making smart money decisions.


He pushed to make the city attorney a salaried position.


The city always budgeted money for legal services, but it always exceeded that amount, Singer said.


The city attorney now is paid $50,000 a year—far less than the $80,000 to $100,000 on average it paid for his services previously, he said.


He also pushed to have the city utilize UW-Whitewater students, who often can provide services at a discounted rate.


For example, when the code enforcement department was looking to get software to track complaints, he asked a group of students to develop a program that would have cost thousands of dollars more if the city had purchased it from a software company.


"We're going to have some challenging budgets ahead," Singer said. "We need to look from top to bottom, at everybody and everything."


Economic growth

Torres is critical of the city for putting up so many hurdles for developers to clear before building homes and businesses. Such "regulation and red tape" could even deter a developer from locating to the city, he said.


"It just seems that every time a business looks to come to Whitewater, there's a handful of hurdles it has to get over," he said.


Torres said some regulation is necessary, but he said the city should make it "as simple as possible" for projects to get off the ground.


"The most important thing the city can do is bend and work to bring economic growth to the city," he said.


Singer agrees developers face a daunting list of things to do before they can start building.


He said if he is elected to the city council, he would work to create a "one-stop shop" for property owners who want to come to Whitewater.


"We're competing with a lot of municipalities that offer a lot of things. It'd be nice to give people something that says, ‘Here's what you need to do,'" he said.


And once a developer decides to locate to the city, there should be some incentives, such as discounted or waived fees.


Gregory M. Torres

Address: 1123 Blooming Field Drive, No. 3, Whitewater.


Age: 22


Job: Unemployed but seeking work.


Education: Bachelor's degree in public policy and administration from UW-Whitewater.


Community service: Vice chairman of the Whitewater Plan and Architectural Review Commission, 2008-present; member of the Whitewater Ethics Committee, 2007-present; chairman of the Whitewater Landmarks Commission, 2007-08; volunteer coordinator for flood relief work at the Jefferson County Family Assistance Center, June and July 2008.


Elected posts: Jefferson County Board supervisor, 2006-present; Whitewater City Council member, 2005-07.


Patrick Singer (I)

Address: 1011 W. Shaw Court, No. 1, Whitewater.


Age: 26


Job: Computer programmer


Education: Studied management computer systems and political science at UW-Whitewater.


Community service: Vice president of the Whitewater University Technology Park Board of Directors, January-present; member of the Whitewater Park and Recreation Board, Cable Television Commission and Landmarks Commission, 2006-07.


Elected posts: Whitewater City Council member, 2007-present.



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