Wauwatosa candidates for alderperson share their views on the city's goal to address diversity, equity and inclusion

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Wauwatosa's current District 3 representative on the common council may make it to 20 years serving on the council if he's elected again this spring. But two political newcomers are trying to stop that from happening.

Ald. Tim Hanson has served Wauwatosa's south side for 16 years already, getting elected to the council in 2006.

Patricia Stone and Joseph Makhlouf are facing off against Hanson in the Feb. 15 primary for the four-year seat.

Only two candidates will move on to the spring election on April 5.

The primary will be the first hurdle for newcomers looking to get on the council after six Wauwatosa council members announced they would not run in the spring election.

The candidates for the District 3 seat were given a short questionnaire to give residents a sense of how they would serve the community. Their answers were limited to 100 words.

Why are you running for the council?

Tim Hanson: I am a lifelong resident of Wauwatosa with a very strong connection to the city and all it has to offer. Being an alderperson provides me with the ability to support the community in many different ways. Serving as an alderperson since 2006, seeing and being involved in the progress, I am committed to continuing to make a difference in the community.

Patricia Stone: Having grown up in a neighboring suburb, I, along with my family, moved to Wauwatosa to join a diverse and thriving community. I have watched, however, as the same people, year after year, run for alderperson and serve on the common council. I believe the best government is run by the people through an ever-changing composition of leadership. The role of existing leadership should be to identify future leaders and promote such evolution. The incumbent in District 3 is looking to serve for two consecutive decades on the common council. New and changing representation helps ensure all voices are heard.

Joseph Makhlouf: As a lifelong resident, Wauwatosa has been a great place to grow up and to raise our family. In the past few years, however, I have noticed a decline in many aspects of Wauwatosa. There has been an increase in car thefts, reckless driving, and a decline in our highly respected schools. Our elected officials are taking Wauwatosa in the wrong direction and seem more interested in helping their friends, outside interests, and ignoring and stifling public input and participation. I am running to initiate change, move things in the right direction, and provide transparency and accountability to Wauwatosa residents.

The city has taken several steps to address equity, diversity and inclusion in recent years. What are your thoughts on these initiatives?

Hanson: I believe we are on the right path toward equity, diversity and inclusion but have a long way to go. There are many ideas out there; taking the right steps to achieve this is very important. I don’t believe slogans such as “defund the police” are helpful. We have already made strides toward developing a diverse police and workforce and will continue making progress toward equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Stone: I applaud the city for encouraging more targeted efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in the city. We need to ensure that the “discussion” is not the finish line. Rather, given the broadness of the key initiatives, the city must work to identify and implement policies to address the initiatives in the upcoming months and years. In doing so, the city should seek community involvement at every turn and use targeted metrics to evaluate success. Auditing outcomes is vital to determining the efficacy of the programs, as well as ensuring taxpayer money is used wisely.

Makhlouf: The city has become much more diverse, both racially and ethnically, since I was young, something I consider to be a good thing. Diversity, equity and inclusion have been important parts of the growth and development of the city of Wauwatosa. Having undertaken a number of initiatives toward equity and inclusion, the city has made progress in those areas; however, there is still a ways to go. Elected officials need to better understand the unique challenges faced by different ethnic and racial groups in the city and try to address them. It is about listening, finding solutions and implementing them.

What is your position on development within the city?

Hanson: Wauwatosa is a great place to live. As a community, we are landlocked, which presents challenges for development. We need to grow our tax base through development that brings resources rather than asking the city to assist with funding. TIF uses are not always in the best interest of our residents, and I have only been in favor of two during my time in office. I believe in supporting development projects that pay for themselves rather than those asking for a free ride.

Stone: New development and maintaining a strong economic engine serve an important function of keeping the tax burden low, ensuring residents have access to products they need, and creating the existence of employment opportunities. However, whenever new development is proposed, a primary consideration should be the extent to which it affects the privacy and character of adjacent neighborhoods. Both the size and nature of the development should be assessed for this purpose. As alderperson, one of my foremost obligations is to inform those residents of the proposals, and thereafter, to solicit and then communicate the feedback provided.

Makhlouf: Development itself is not bad; however, over development is. According to Wauwatosa’s own housing study and needs analysis, we need 290 units of single-family housing, 171 units of townhomes, and 1,382 of multifamily units built between 2013 and 2025. Current administration has done little to support single-family housing, townhomes and condominiums and relied on multifamily rental properties. Development should enhance and complement surrounding land uses, as outlined in the comprehensive plan. In addition, we should encourage more community engagement, listen to input from community members and put height limits in place to close loopholes for unlimited height projects.

Tim Hanson

Tim Hanson
Tim Hanson

Address: 352 N. 115th St.

Age: 61

Occupation: Painting supervisor, Milwaukee County Parks

Past political experience: Alderperson, District 3, 2006-present.

Contact info: 414-617-2950

Patricia Stone

Patricia Stone
Patricia Stone

Address: 1610 N. 124th St.

Age: 42

Occupation: Attorney

Past political experience: None

Community involvement: Member of the Fisher Woods Neighborhood Association; former Milwaukee County foster parent.

Contact info: pastone15@gmail.com, 414-292-9810

Joseph Makhlouf

Joseph Makhlouf
Joseph Makhlouf

Address: 772 N 116th St.

Age: 53

Occupation: Chiropractor

Past political experience: None

Community involvement: Coach and former coach for sports teams at the Wauwatosa School District; ski and snowboard club adviser for Wauwatosa East and Wauwatosa West high schools

Contact info: TosaJoe4Alder@gmail.com

Evan Casey can be reached at 414-403-4391 or evan.casey@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter @ecaseymedia.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wauwatosa District 3 aldermanic candidates share city's goals

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