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Four in race to fill two city Delavan City Council seats

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ANN MARIE AMES
April 1, 2011
— The city of Delavan has dodged what could have been a big hole in its 2012 budget, let alone a source of frustration for many residents.

But just because Lake Lawn Resort is expected to reopen doesn't mean the city doesn't face challenges balancing its budget or that the city doesn't need to be involved with Lake Lawn's yet-to-be-determined management, said candidates for Delavan City Council.


Four people seek to fill two seats on the council.


In District 1, former council member John Finley challenges incumbent Mary O'Connor. Finley lives in District 2 but has agreed to move to District 1 if he is elected, City Clerk Sue Kitzman said. That scenario is legal under state statutes, she said.


In District 3, two write-in candidates—former council members Will Kuhkaba and Ryan Schroeder—seek the seat held by Ron Siedelmann. Siedelmann was running unopposed before he died in February.


In District 2, incumbent Dave Kilkenny is unopposed.


The competing candidates answered questions on the following topics:


City finances

Q: A local investor on March 25 forged an agreement with Anchor Bank to buy Lake Lawn Resort, which employed 300 people and was the city's biggest generator of room taxes. How would that agreement affect planning for city finances?


Finley: He said deficits in federal and state budgets have put more pressure than ever on local governments to find ways to pay for services residents expect.


"It's up to elected officials to somehow keep what they're doing alive while figuring out how to do it for a fraction of the cost they did it before," Finley said.


One tactic to do so would be restructuring debt, Finley said.


O'Connor: She said her experience as finance committee member and public works commission chairwoman have armed her well for the 2012 budget discussion. The two committees' work is intertwined, she said, and she already has started her homework for next year's budget.


"I have been discussing what happens if we need to make more concessions," O'Connor said.


Once things settle down at Lake Lawn, O'Connor said she would focus on bringing tenants to the city's industrial park and supporting the city's downtown.


Kuhkaba: He said it is imperative that the resort's growth matches the city's. He is not a supporter of using tax money to support private enterprise, Kuhkaba said.


"The council can work very closely with the resort, helping them when they need help," Kuhkaba said. "Not necessarily financially."


Kuhkaba said the budget process boils down to one thing.


"I think essentially that our council is going to be faced with two decisions," he said. "We either raise taxes or reduce spending. … I'm looking more for just controlling spending."


Schroeder: While the sale of Lake Lawn takes a little pressure off the city budget, it doesn't mean the city can walk away from the resort, Schroeder said.


Schroeder said the city must be very involved with Lake Lawn. He said he has a record of being hands on and supportive of the business.


"In 10 years that I served, there were four developers and owners," Schroeder said. "Each and every one came before the council with different ideas and plans. My record is very clear. The city has to try to work with them and support their visions."


Delavan will have to be creative to keep revenue, Shroeder said.


"I don't know if there's any way around it that there's going to be cuts in services."


Qualifications

Q: What makes you the best candidate?


Finley: He said his experience as a small-business owner and landlord make him the right person for the job.


"I have experience in running a business and making realistic budgets and tightening the belt when necessary," Finley said.


O'Connor: She said she has tried and succeeded to represent her constituents' interests.


"You always have some who don't like what you say," O'Connor said. "But as a majority, I do listen to my constituents. I do respond to them. I do my research."


Kuhkaba: He said his business experience makes him the person for the job.


"The city is going to need someone who can work with other businessmen and CEOs if we're going to be successful in attracting new industries and good-paying jobs," he said.


Schroeder: He said he has an advantage over Kuhkaba because he's only been out of office for two years.


"It's been a short enough time I can get back in there like I never skipped a beat," Schroeder said. "From day one, I can hit the ground running."


Bios

Delavan City council


District 1


John Finley


Age: 59


Address: 127 South Terrace St., Delavan.


Job: Semi-retired owner of Finley Security Alarms


Education: Attending UW-Whitewater


Community service: None listed


Elected posts: Elected to the Delavan City Council in 2006 and 2008.


***


Mary O'Connor (I)


Age: 53


Address: 518 N. Terrace St., Delavan.


Job: Certified nursing assistant at Vintage on the Ponds, Delavan.


Education: Graduate of Delavan-Darien High School, 1975; bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from UW-Whitewater, 1982; master's degree in computer information management from Webster University, 1994; master's of business administration from Webster University, 2000.


Community service: Girl Scout leader, volunteer at Lakeland Nursing Home in Elkhorn, member of American Legion Post 95 and Legion auxiliary.


Elected posts: Elected to Delavan City Council in 2008.


***


District 3


William P. Kuhkaba


Age: 67


Address: 701 Alder Ave., Delavan.


Job: Founder and president of KACO Computer Sales & Service


Education: Graduate of State University of New York, 1977.


Community service: Has served as a citizen member of the mayor's fire station committee and fire station building committee; has volunteered as a mentor in both the Delavan-Darien and Elkhorn school districts.


Elected posts: Served on the Delavan City Council from 1987 to 1997 and was a member of several city committees including the plan commission.


***


Ryan J. Schroeder


Age: 36


Address: 510 S. Seventh St., Delavan.


Job: None listed


Education: Graduate of Delavan-Darien High School, 1992; bachelor's degree in administration and public policy from UW-Whitewater, 2007.


Community Service: Member and former president of the Delavan Lions Club; current vice president of the Delavan Communications Committee; member of Delavan Historical Society, the Temperance House committee, park and recreation committee and the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Board.


Elected Posts: Served on the Delavan City Council from 1999 to 2009. Served as council president and vice president.



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