Three face off in Lake Geneva mayoral race
Mayor Bill Chesen is not seeking re-election after only one term in office. Alderman Frank Marsala, who also is seeking re-election to his 4th District seat, is vying for the mayor’s spot along with Jim Connors, a political newcomer, and Scott Storms, current president of the police and fire commission.
Voters on Tuesday, Feb. 16, will narrow the field of candidates to two.
The three candidates agree the next mayor and city council have a lot of work to do to get past the political battle that divided the city for more than two months.
Marsala said the mayor should act as a moderator. He believes the issues should take center stage and city officials need to work together toward common goals.
“We need somebody who can get everyone back on track and getting along,” he said. “The people are the fuel. The council is the engine. The mayor is just the driver. … That’s where I shine. I think I could help get us focused and moving in the right direction.”
Storms said the mayor also should keep the council on task. He thinks some council members spend too much time “nitpicking” and cause problems for city officials.
“The legislative and executive branches of government need to coexist. But the legislative branch needs to stay in the legislative office,” he said. “This micromanagement of staff is counterproductive. It does not make for a solid working environment. We need to start focusing on the issues at hand. We need a mayor who is a professional manager to keep things moving.”
Connors said the mayor must foster an environment in which council members and city staff are able to work together despite their differences.
“I think everybody needs to treat everybody else with respect and get this thing headed in the right direction,” he said. “We have a lot of talented people with good intentions in city government; we need to get over past divisions and see the good in each other.”
The three candidates also agree that the city must encourage responsible development that brings industry, small businesses and jobs to the city.
Connors said the city should push for redevelopment of properties downtown and along Broad Street as well as seek commercial and industrial development. He said both moves would grow the tax base without the cost of providing additional city services.
He also said the city should close the downtown tax incremental finance district to open up the tax base.
Storms said the city should support the local business community and reduce the hoops that new businesses have to jump through to get started. He also said the city should work closely with the Lake Geneva Chamber of Commerce, the Geneva Lake Development Corporation and other like organizations to find out what businesses need to be successful.
Marsala said the city will be controlled by the economy for a while but should continue encouraging growth.
“We need to promote what we’ve got and expand on what we don’t,” he said.
Address: 320 Oakwood Lane, Lake Geneva.
Job: Vice president of Dalco Metals, Walworth.
Education: Graduated from Parker High School, Janesville, 1977; bachelor’s degree in industrial technology/manufacturing engineering from UW-Stout, 1981.
Community service: Boy Scout leader; volunteer at the food pantry; church moderator at First Congregational United Church of Christ, Lake Geneva, 2004-2007.
Elected posts: None.
Address: 1823 Conant St., Lake Geneva.
Job: Semi-retired; operator of the American Legion canteen in Library Park.
Education: Studied business law at Wright College, Chicago.
Community service: None.
Elected posts: Lake Geneva alderman, 2008-present.
Address: 750 Heather Circle, Lake Geneva.
Job: Retired police lieutenant.
Education: Graduated from the Bergen County (N.J.) Police Academy, 1976. Certified firefighter and hazardous materials instructor. Certified public manager.
Community service: President of the Lake Geneva Police and Fire Commission, 2008-present; member of the commission, 2006-2008; softball and baseball coach.
Elected posts: None.