Janesville43.5°

Two seek Delavan mayor post

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Todd Mishler
March 23, 2012
— The April 3 election for Delavan mayor will be a rematch of 2002, when Mel Nieuwenhuis defeated Ryan Schroeder by four votes after two recounts.

The men said they've worked together well and compromised on issues during their mostly parallel political careers.


They've also clashed.


Both agree creating jobs and attracting new businesses in a tough economic climate are the biggest issues facing the city for the next two years and beyond. How successful that's been and what should be done are points of contention.


Nieuwenhuis said he worked to get the industrial park going and promoted business to come to Delavan, especially in Tax Increment Financing District 4, which includes the retail area east of Walmart and Kohl's.


"I believe we've been on track in attracting job providers," he said. "We've been very busy the last two years. We've created a downtown revitalization task force, and the council just last month approved a feasibility study for another potential TIF district. We celebrated the opening of the new fire station. We put a lot of public and political pressure on the Lake Lawn situation, and it's been huge getting them back on track."


Schroeder said he has supported many of these ideas, but he said some have come at a cost and the city's downtown has been neglected.


"My opponent has been hanging his hat on bringing in Walmart, Kohl's and other businesses in that area and that I didn't support those efforts," Schroeder said. "But it wasn't because I didn't support them. I wanted to take time and gather more information to see if we could grow at that pace and keep up with providing services in that area. And I wanted to take more time to study the impact it would have on the city, especially the downtown.


"The question was the net gain—we lost a lot of competition," Schroeder added. "We no longer have the Big Kmart, Pick 'n Save and those jobs. The downtown and the corridor from there to the TIF is considered 61 percent blighted. I've counted 12 open storefronts.


Nieuwenhuis said city government has worked hard to keep its budget in order so city residents can look forward to a brighter tomorrow.


"Act 10 gave us tools that have helped in some ways," Nieuwenhuis said of Gov. Walker's budget-repair bill. "When we started the budget process, we asked every city department to cut by 8 percent, and we were able to decrease the tax levy by about 1 percent."


Schroeder lauded those efforts but said other cost-saving options are available, such as reviving the committee that included Elkhorn and the town of Delavan to look for ways to share resources.


Mel Nieuwenhuis


Age: 50


Address: 720 Parish St.


Job: Garbage hauler for Nieuwenhuis Brothers, Delavan.


Education: Graduate of Delavan-Darien High School, some college.


Community service: Co-founded Mary's Room with wife Peggy, member of the Delavan-Darien High School Booster Club, volunteer for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.


Elected posts: Alderman, 1996-98 and 2001; mayor, 2002 to present.


***


Ryan J. Schroeder


Age: 37


Address: 510 S. Seventh St.


Job: Chief of staff to Rep. Josh Zepnick, D-Milwaukee.


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; member of Delavan-Darien School District task force, 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 1999-2009 and 2011 to present. Served as council president and vice president.



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