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Port Washington

Incumbents face rare challenges on school ballot PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 04 January 2017 19:31

Port, Saukville residents launch bids to unseat two longtime board members

Two longtime Port Washington-Saukville School Board members face rare challenges in the April election.

Scott Fischer, a Saukville village trustee,  is running against Sara McCutcheon, who has represented the Village of Saukville on the School Board for 20 years.

“I just think it might be time for a change, and I want to see if I can contribute,” Fischer said.

In her two decades on the board, McCutcheon recalls running in only one contested election. She fended off a challenge from Jim Cryns in 2008.

McCutcheon, 51, owns and operates Silk Screen Specialists in Grafton.

Fischer, 48, is the director of facilities at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee.

Another longtime incumbent, Brian McCutcheon, is facing a challenge from Aaron Paulin, a 38-year-old social studies teacher at West Bend West High School who is making his third run in as many years for a seat representing the City of Port Washington.

McCutcheon, who is Sara McCutcheon’s brother-in-law, is retired. He’s 59.

Marchell Longstaff, who was first elected to the board in 2014, is running unopposed to retain her seat representing the Town of Port Washington.

Board members serve three-year terms.

Supt. Michael Weber said that prospective candidates have also expressed interest in a new at-large seat the district is in the process of creating, although they will have to wait until 2019 to get their names on the ballot.

The new seat would address the problem the school district has had finding candidates or even appointees to fill a seat representing a small, sparsely populated section of the district in the towns of Saukville and Grafton, which has been vacant for more than a year.

The board intends to change this seat to an at-large position that can be filled by a resident who lives anywhere in the district, not just in this small area.

Board bylaws currently call for the board to consist of five members from the City of Port Washington, two from the Village of Saukville and one each from the Town of Port Washington and the towns of Saukville and Grafton. The proposed change would only affect the Saukville-Grafton town seat.

Although board members are elected from and represent specific areas of the district, all voters can vote for all candidates. For example, a Village of Saukville resident can vote for a City of Port Washington School Board candidate.

The proposed change, seen by officials as a preferred alternative to reducing the number of board members to seven, is not, however, a quick fix, and is one that must be approved by voters.

The board must circulate a petition and collect the signatures of 500 district residents to have a resolution put on the April 2017 ballot.

If the measure is approved by voters, it will not take effect until the three-year term of the current town of Saukville-Grafton seat expires in April 2019.

A vacant Saukville-Grafton town seat was not always a problem. For 16 years it was occupied by Jim Eden, who served as board president for two of those years before resigning in March 2014.

The board appointed Paul Krechel in July of that year. Krechel ran unopposed in the April 2015 election but resigned in October of that year.

Despite the district’s efforts to find an appointee to fill the seat, as well as an April 2016 election that failed to attract a registered or even a write-in candidate, the seat has remained vacant since Krechel’s departure.

New faces assured for Port city, town seats PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 28 December 2016 18:48

With just a week to go before the spring election slate is determined, city and town of Port Washington voters know there will be at least one new member of their governing bodies.

In the city, 5th District Ald. Kevin Rudser was the only candidate to submit noncandidacy papers by the Dec. 23 deadline, City Administrator Mark Grams said Tuesday.

Jonathan Pleitner, 1890 Aster St., has filed nomination papers for Rudser’s seat, he said.

None of the other incumbents up for election — 1st District Ald. Mike Ehrlich, 3rd District Ald. Bill Driscoll and 7th District Ald. Dan Becker — filed noncandidacy forms. 

City Clerk Susan Westerbeke said last week a number of people have inquired about nomination papers.

But only Becker has returned his nomination papers, Grams said.

In the Town of Port, Supr. Jim Rychtik is not seeking re-election. 

His seat, as well as those held by Supr. Mike Didier, Chairman Jim Melichar and Treasurer Mary Sampont, are all up for election in spring.

Three seats on the Port Washington-Saukville School Board will also be on the ballot.

They include the City of Port Washington post currently held by Brian McCutcheon, Village of Saukville seat held by Sara McCutcheon and Town of Port seat held by Marchell Longstaff.

The city and town positions are for two-year terms, while the School Board seats are for three-year terms.

Nomination papers for the city and town seats are due at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3.

School Board candidates must file a registration statement and declaration of candidacy by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3.

 If any incumbent fails to file noncandidacy forms and does not submit nomination papers, the deadline will be extended by 72 hours.

The general election will be held on Tuesday, April 4.

If more than two candidates seek any one office, a primary election will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Decision on marina changes put on hold PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 21 December 2016 20:58

Port officials postpone considering new options for operating facility, job of harbormaster until Jan. 3


Plans to have the Port Washington Harbor Commission and Common Council discuss in closed session changing the way the marina is operated and the job of the harbormaster were abruptly cancelled this week.

City Administrator Mark Grams said the topic will probably be on the Tuesday, Jan. 3, Common Council agenda.

Harbor Commission members will likely be invited to the session to participate in the discussion, Grams said, since they will not have a meeting before that date.

Both the Harbor Commission and Common Council had been scheduled to discuss the topic in closed sessions and cited on their agendas as an exemption to the open meetings law that allows closed session discussions of personnel matters.

But after Ozaukee Press objected to the closed session, Grams said the decision was made to delay the discussion since the wording on the agendas did not allow it to be considered in open session.

The Jan. 3 discussion will be held in open session, he said.

Officials have said the potential changes to the marina operation are prompted by the fact the facility has lost money for the past two years and, despite a robust summer season, is expected to lose money again this year.

Grams told the Harbor Commission on Monday that the marina is expected to be $25,000 to $30,000 in the red by the end of the year. 

The commission also reviewed audit reports from the last 14 years, which showed that while the facility had maintained a surplus for many years, it has had a couple of rough years recently.

Commission Chairman Gerald Gruen Jr. noted that a contingency fund was to have been established during profitable years so that when unforeseen expenses and shortfalls arose the marina would have money to address them.

“When we were prosperous, we thought there are going to be issues ahead and we need to have some cash set aside,” Gruen said.

That could have helped the marina through recent issues, such as the unexpected $75,000 cost of repairing a leak in the fuel tanks in 2014.

There is such a fund, Grams said, and it has about $154,000 in it — significantly less than the $374,000 that was in the account in 2011.

Unless things turn around, he added, “It’s not going to be long until that is down to zero.”

The Common Council has always stressed the need for the marina to pay its way, he added.

During budget talks this year, the Finance and License Committee and some aldermen brought the issue up, suggesting it may be time for changes in the operation of the marina to save money.

Ald. Bill Driscoll, a member of both the Harbor Commission and Finance and License Committee, said the time to act is now.

“If you lose money for 10 years and have to close down, people are going to ask, ‘Why didn’t you see thing coming and do something?’” he said. “Somewhere along the line, we have to ask, ‘How many years do we have to lose money before something has to be done?’”

But Gruen suggested the city look at expenses other than personnel to trim the marina costs.

“There are a lot of ways we can cut expenses. It doesn’t have to be employees,” he said. “This marina has made money almost every year.”

A few bad years, he added, aren’t a reason to panic, especially since the reasons were largely out of the city’s control — cold weather, poor fishing and the leaky fuel tanks.

Dick Laske, who has a boat in the marina, concurred.

“If you make the harbormaster a part-time function, the quality of the marina could suffer,” he said. “I don’t understand the logic of that.”

Allen Edmonds sale not expected to impact jobs at local factory PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Jaeger   
Wednesday, 14 December 2016 19:17

Port shoemaker purchased for $255 million by parent company of Famous Footwear

It was announced Tuesday that Allen Edmonds Shoe Corp., the Port Washington-based maker of high-end footwear, has been purchased by Caleres Inc. for $225 million in cash and revolving credit.

The transaction was completed Tuesday afternoon, and employees were informed later that day.

Company officials assured its workers, including 750 in the U.S. — including about 450 in Port Washington — and about 300 overseas, that their jobs would be retained.

New faces assured in Port elections PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 20:31

Decisions of town supervisor, city alderman not to seek additional terms open door for changes in spring 

The Port Washington Town Board and the Port Washington Common Council will each have at least one new official next year.

Ald. Kevin Rudser has filed non-candidacy papers for his 5th District seat.

“I just don’t have enough hours in the day,” he said, especially with an active young family.

Rudser, who represents the city’s 5th District, has been an alderman since 2013.

Jonathan Pleitner, who on Tuesday was named to the Parks and Recreation Board, has taken out nomination papers for the seat, City Clerk Susan Westerbeke said.

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