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Four face off in Lake Geneva District 2 primary

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Kayla Bunge
February 8, 2010
— The four candidates vying to represent the residents of the 2nd District agree that the members of the Lake Geneva City Council must put aside their differences and get back to business.

Alderwoman Penny Roehrer, who is seeking her second term, faces a challenge from three people with experience in city government: Barbara Hartke, a former alderwoman; Thomas Hartz, a current member of the plan commission, and Alan Kupsik, a current member of the plan commission and park board.


Voters on Tuesday, Feb. 16, will narrow the field to two.


Roehrer said the council should continue the strategic planning it started last year. She believes setting goals and working to achieve them is the best way for the council members to end divisions.


“I think it’s a way for the council to really come together,” she said.


Hartke said the council—not the mayor—should set the direction for the city. She thinks residents have given up ownership of city government and they need to take it back.


“The council is where the action is. The council is where the power is,” she said. “But I think a lot of people were disillusioned. (Candidates) said they were for the people; we gave them our vote, and we found out they really were not for us.”


Kupsik agreed.


“The people elect you, and you are there to represent the people,” he said. “I hold that very strongly. I’m going into this with no hidden agendas.”


Hartz said the council should not overstep its authority. He believes the council now is trying to micromanage City Hall and only is exacerbating tensions among city officials.


“The expectation that things are going to be perfect is too high,” he said. “We have a staff that seemed to be able to manage things. We need to find out why everything they’re doing now is being called into question, address those issues and move forward.”


Taxes

The four candidates also agree that the city must work hard to reduce spending and lower taxes.


Hartke said she asked current council members to freeze spending, salaries and taxes this year, but no one listened.


“We’re in a recession. Everyone is tightening the belt,” she said. “But all of this is going to fall upon us in the form of raised taxes.


“I’m a fiscal hawk. I know it can be done. We can cut down on spending. … We can force the departments to live within their means like the rest of us are doing.”


Roehrer agreed. She also thinks residents should be involved in the budget planning process.


“We need to have a more open process,” she said. “I think we have more than average Joes living here. I think they would come forward with good ideas, and I think we should be willing to listen to them.”


Roehrer said the city should encourage redevelopment of properties downtown and along Broad Street to increase the tax base. She also said the city should close the downtown tax incremental finance district to open up the tax base.


Kupsik said the city should promote tourism to boost revenue from room and sales taxes.


“We need to get people coming back, enjoying our beautiful city and spending their money,” he said.


Hartz said the city must be careful to follow through on the issues residents brought up during the Smart Growth planning process: controlling development and maintaining small-town charm.


“We have a really unique opportunity at this stage to do that,” he said.


Barbara Hartke

Age: 69


Address: 705 S. Lakeshore Drive, Lake Geneva.


Job: Retired teacher, librarian and counselor in the Chicago public schools.


Education: Bachelor’s degree in English literature and elementary education, Mundelein College, Chicago, 1961; master’s degree in education administration, Loyola University, Chicago, 1963; master’s degree in television/motion picture production, University of California, Los Angeles, 1980; and master’s degree in counseling from Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, 1987.


Community service: None.


Elected posts: Lake Geneva Alderwoman, 1994-1996.


Thomas Hartz

Age: 56


Address: 1051 Lake Geneva Blvd., Lake Geneva.


Job: Owner of Simple restaurant, Lake Geneva.


Education: Bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Colorado at Boulder, 1976; master’s degree in city planning from UW-Madison, 1979.


Community service: Member of the Lake Geneva Plan Commission, 2007-present; member of the land acquisition committee at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Lake Geneva.


Elected posts: None.


Alan Kupsik

Age: 55


Address: 717 S. Lakeshore Drive, Unit 8B, Lake Geneva.


Job: Small general contractor and owner of Correct Consulting.


Education: Studied sociology at St. Joseph’s College, Hammond, Ind.; associate’s degree in heating and air conditioning, Triton College, River Grove, Ill.


Community service: Chairman of the Lake Geneva Park Board, 2003-present; member of the Lake Geneva Plan Commission, 2004-present.


Elected posts: Walworth County supervisor, 2005-2008.


Penny Roehrer

Age: 59


Address: 951 S. Lakeshore Drive, Unit 1, Lake Geneva.


Job: Retired from actuarial and information technology work.


Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, 1972.


Community service: Treasurer of the Friends of Big Foot Beach State Park; member of the Hack-ma-tack National Wildlife Refuge and Nippersink Trail projects.


Elected posts: Lake Geneva alderwoman 2008-present.



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