Race for 14th District County Supervisor candidate interviews
February 27, 2011
Jason Haas Steven Kraeger
The Compass invited the two candidates to succeed Chris Larson as 14th District Milwaukee County supervisor, Jason Haas and Steve Kraeger, to respond to four questions in a total of 500 words or less.
Haas is a community activist and stay-at-home dad who formerly contributed to the Compass. Kraeger owns his own business, Steve Kraeger Trucking.
Both Haas and Kraeger ran unsuccessfully for the position back in 2008 when the seat was vacated by Richard Nyklewicz. Haas is the more liberal candidate, Kraeger the more conservative.
The election is Tuesday, April 5.
1. What is the biggest challenge to Milwaukee County? to District 14? How do you address those challenges?
Jason Haas: The biggest short-term challenge will be the expected slashing of shared revenue in the forthcoming state budget that may force the County Board to make drastic cuts. We cannot allow the state government to leave the economic engine of Wisconsin out in the cold. Second, the state must repair and rebuild the Hoan Bridge, a vital connector for the south side. That said, rather than wait for the state to make our lives better, I have new ideas for local success that I will bring to the County Board. One new idea I have proposed is the Milwaukee County “SuperPass,” which will allow individuals and families to visit Milwaukee County’s great cultural and recreational attractions all year, and for one price. This will directly increase county revenue, and will boost tourism. People can bring friends and family from out of town and all enjoy the things that have made Milwaukee County a great place to live. The SuperPass is a creative start that will spur other ideas and innovation.
Steve Kraeger: Financial challenges are the greatest encumbrances to Milwaukee County and the 14th District is not an island on this issue. How I will address this issue is the same way that I have been doing it for all my 20-plus years running a business. The economic principles are the same. Live within the limits of the budget and never let yourself believe that projections are anything close to guarantees. Always think in terms of an objective cost-benefit analysis on any substantial spending. Always act as a fiduciary to the people that put you in office. Finally, remember that the people who actually do the job know the most efficient way of doing it. Listen to them.
2. What should county government’s role be in job creation?
Jason Haas: In addition to my proposals for tourism and transit improvements, I support the Milwaukee Gateway Aerotropolis project. Furthermore, the county should combine its economic development office with the city of Milwaukee’s office. There is no reason to have two offices that try to accomplish roughly the same goals. Instead, we can maximize results by combining city and county operations, and encourage entrepreneurship in Milwaukee.
Steve Kraeger: Stay out of the way of the private sector entrepreneurs that are trying to create tax dollar producing jobs. Many people in government can’t successfully run a business but then run government departments. In my own personal experience I and my colleagues were not paid on a job in restaurant construction on North Avenue. The person that started the project later filed for bankruptcy and then became director of economic development for Milwaukee County. His current salary is about $90,000. This is an insult to the many minority contractors that he stiffed and it sends a message that Milwaukee County is not open for business. I want to send a positive message that the people who run Milwaukee County are pro-business and successful at running things.
3. Explain your perspective on public transit. What modes are desired/not desired? How will you recommend paying for current and any new public transit service?
Jason Haas: Transit is vital to the future of our community. Despite the fact that Governor Walker and his allies oppose modernizing our transit systems, improving the bus system will help address the county’s economic challenges. According to a CEOs for Cities study, when educated, creative people decide where to live, work, and innovate, they seek out places where they can ride public transit, walk, or bike to the places they need. Businesses have decided not to locate here precisely because there are no effective transit options; Milwaukee lost the headquarters of MillerCoors to Chicago, in large part, for that reason. We need to reverse that. We can help the local economy grow by strengthening the transit system. The Milwaukee County Transit System is the only public transportation that we have right now, and we need to improve it. Thousands of people, of all ages, income levels, and abilities, rely on the transit system to get to work, school, hospital, and other important destinations. Because of continued route cuts and rate increases, ridership has declined. Yet the need for transit persists. I want to see the fares lowered and schedules improved to increase ridership.
Steve Kraeger: Fully fund buses and not the $91 million proposed inter-city loop train. I would like to petition Paul Ryan, House budget committee chair, and Gwen Moore to remove the strings attached to that allocated money. People use buses and buses are re-routable. Buses are subsidized and taking away rides in a loop train is a horrible idea. Buses are part of our economic engine that needs to be preserved. I would like to see more bus shelters especially if they could be not taxpayer-funded and instead be self-sustainable through advertising. This is done in other cities. I would also like to see inexpensive solar lights installed in the bus shelters. Last week I could not even read my newspaper at a bus shelter because it was too dark.
4. Under what circumstances would you sell off Milwaukee County parkland?
Jason Haas: Rather than sell Milwaukee County parkland, I am open to public-private partnerships. For example, Bradford Beach has become a popular summer destination once again, thanks in part to the Bartolotta Restaurant Group operating the snack bar, in tandem with increased county maintenance of the beach. My experience building community groups such as the Hide House Community Garden will help us bring people back to the parks.
Steve Kraeger: This is a sensitive issue to me so I am always cautious. The only thing that should be sold or leased is areas that are parkland, but not used for any park purpose. The best example of this is at the intersection of 20th and Howard: three of four corners are developed and one is Wilson Park. Nobody gravitates to the intersection; they always gravitate to the interior of the park. I was there last summer and wished that there were a Dairy Queen or something there. My own personal experience of this is that I developed private residential lots on the edge of Johnstone Park at 21st and Wood Avenue in Oak Creek.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the candidates (authors) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bay View Compass.
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