Alderman candidates focus on city development

The 4th aldermanic district's seat, which includes Marquette, is vacant this election year, and two first-timers are vying to fill it.

Bob Bauman and Claude Krawczyk emerged from the field of seven after the Feb. 19 primary, and they'll face off April 6 in the general election.

Neither candidate has run for city government, but both are Marquette law graduates and have practiced law in the city.

Krawczyk has been practicing law as a real estate and commercial attorney for the past 18 years.

Bauman has been working in the private sector for the past 26 years. He started his own business, worked in private law practice and worked for a law firm. Both said their business experience helps them understand the needs of the community.

Krawczyk will use the city's Near West Side Comprehensive Plan — approved by the Department of City Development on March 19 — as a "blueprint for development."

The plan focuses on commercial development in and around Marquette's campus.

Krawczyk called the plan a "good start" and plans to work with business associations in the district to bring about the development for which the plan calls.

Bauman was a member of the study advisery committee for the plan and said the alderman's job will be to ensure development in the future is "consistent with that plan."

The plan recommends a full-service grocery store near North 35th and West Wells streets and a "quality sit-down restaurant" along West Wisconsin Avenue near North 27th Street. The plan does not, however, set out a timetable for the postulated development.

In addition to community development, both candidates said they would look specifically at off-campus housing options for students.

"There are some landlords, not all, but some landlords who take advantage of students," Bauman said. Some landlords know students move in and out quickly, and often do not check building codes to see if the properties comply with city building codes.

Also, Bauman said, some landlords charge students higher rates than similar housing costs elsewhere in the city. He plans to form a task force of landlords, Marquette administration, student government, city representatives and himself to "address this issue, hopefully, in a pro-active way."

The task force would work on "getting commitments from problem landlords" and would turn to legal enforcement of the law if problem landlords do not cooperate. Krawczyk did not mention plans for a task force, but he said he would also look at the housing issue, using a similar system of asking for compliance before involving the law.

June Moberly, executive director of the Avenues West Association, a community and business association on the Near West Side, said the next alderman will "have to be open (and) receptive … to hearing the concerns of the constituents."

Each candidate stressed that as a goal while in office.

"The alderman is really the agent of the voters" in city hall, Bauman said. "Taxpayers pay alderman $65,000 and change — that's double the average median income in Milwaukee" to protect their interests.

Krawczyk said he would promptly return phone calls and be available for in-person meetings with constituents.

Both also said they would look at parking in the district. They agreed that no-parking restrictions on many streets during winter months could probably be changed to a two-inch restriction, where parking is only restricted when snow is over two inches high.

Bauman said he will assess what citizens want from parking reformation, because getting rid of meters or changing enforcement policy would hurt revenues and most likely lead to a property tax hike.

We may have to "increase the tax levy to deal with the loss of parking revenue," Bauman said. "I'd be willing to stand up and take the heat for that."

Krawczyk said he would examine parking on a block-by-block basis but, overall, would "have the city back off a little in its parking enforcement."