West Bend, WI – The two candidates running for Mayor of West Bend, Chris Jenkins and Rich Kasten, participated in a candidate forum at City Hall.
Chris Jenkins – Married with five children. Dist. 4 alderman in West Bend. On finance committee and long-range planning committee. Pres. of WB Early Risers Kiwanis. Village Adm for Elmwood Park. Lots of experience. Lead our city to next decade.
Rich Kasten – married with three grown children. Homeowner for 22 years. Grad of MU and working now as IT manager. Serving Dist. 5 alderman. Chaired public works and finance committee. Former member of CFAC committee, crime prevention patrol and on committees at St. Frances Cabrini. Budget and strategic planning.
With low unemployment businesses struggle – how do you entice talent?
RK – vision I have for WB is to get us out of this bedroom community. Have WB be known as a great, safe, place to live, dine, work and play. At that point we’ll have better individuals to get to workforce.
CJ – public safety, strong infrastructure and quality of life. A strategic plan can spread out to larger values. We need to be open-minded and have broad array of housing.
If City received $1 million grant how would it be used and why?
CJ – Roads. We’ve increased funding towards roads. The plus is our overall debt has been lowered by $40 million
RK – Roads is No. 1 issue. Also want to be cognizant we’re not doing roads at the expense of quality of life.
If elected will you follow through on riverbank restoration?
RK – yes, absolutely. The corridor between downtown and MOWA we’re lucky to have it. We need to continue the momentum.
CJ – We’re only half-way complete. It’s a great example of public and private partnership.
Deteriorating roads is a hot topic – will you spend more money than previous administration?
CJ – Yes, with a caveat that we have a plan in place. The advisory referendum gave us mixed results. We’re looking at efficiency and we don’t want to hinder tax burden.
RK – We’re realizing results of decreasing our debt and we’re getting space to use for roads. Need to look at different strategies. Don’t want to spend wildly. Maybe do smaller sections of road.
What’s the last job you succeeded in and how does that fit the mayoral position?
RK – we delivered our latest project on time and under budget. I have that experience to drive toward success and stay on target. That’s part of being a good mayor.
CJ – being a village admin one of the things we developed was a new strategic plan. We brought a group together to look at values and that made decision making process easier. We can do this too at City level.
What 3 steps to put City on firmer financial footing?
CJ – Create a strategic plan, make sure our budgets align to goals, and follow through.
RK – Continue following policies we’ve put in place on borrowing and spending. We have key components set so our bond rating is as solid as possible. Challenge our department heads. There shouldn’t be any fear to try new things. Work with Dept. Heads to address zombie issues and a strategic plan will help.
How are we welcoming to new and diverse population?
RK – residents of WB are welcoming. If we can get the message out for people looking for diversity and flag organizations like Casa Guadalupe. Wants Chamber of Commerce to return to a welcome wagon for new homeowners.
CJ – be welcoming through community development. Housing needs and support nonprofits and community events.
What are we spending too much on as a City and not enough money on?
CJ – We’ve done a good job at holding city departments accountable. Spending more money on infrastructure and public safety. Police, fire and medical services
RK – what do we spend too much on – I don’t think we do that. We provide more than enough for police and fire. Not spending enough on roads. It comes down to how we can best spend those dollars.
One thing at City level to impact future of WB
RK – getting involvement of residents. We have committees and commissions with smart people who can help. Most committees are advisory but they can help mold the city. Growing involvement of the city.
CJ – create a strategic plan. Why our previous mayor succeeded with the task force, the goals and conservative fiscal discipline. Which includes citizen involvement and predictable spending.
Define a successful term
CJ – making sure the issues we face on city council are less burdensome. Create a plan and setting objectives and carry out the plan.
RK – Did I earn the respect of residents, employees and the council. That would say a lot for the success of the term. Did we achieve the challenges with measurable results. We have greater involvement by residents and committee.
The West Bend Mayoral race will be on the April 7 ballot in the City of West Bend. Rich Kasten will be listed first followed by Chris Jenkins. Voters are asked to cast one vote in this non-partisan race.
In-person absentee voting begins in the City of West Bend on Monday, March 16 and runs through Friday, April 3 at 5 p.m.
Click HERE for more information with regard to what’s on your ballot and your polling place.