Local race tough to call

The primary election to fill the vacancy of 4th District Alderman Paul Henningson will be held Feb. 17. Seven candidates are competing to represent the area, which includes Marquette.

Elected positions in Milwaukee are non-partisan, so voters of any party affiliation can cast ballots. The primary will narrow the race down to the two winning candidates who will face off in the April general election.

The candidates are Bob Bauman, Bob Greene, Claude Krawczyk, Sally Maddick, Brandon Rosner, Edwin Thaves and Jim Wenzler.

Wenzler said if elected he would solve the parking shortage problem by tearing out all the meters and putting in 2-hour limit signs.

"All you (would) have to do is move," he said. In the lesser-used metered areas, he said half-hour or hour restrictions could be imposed. However, Wenzler said he would increase ticket prices from $38 to around $45.

Wenzler also said he would sit down with the city departments that provide services such as snow removal and street sweeping to determine a schedule of when they plow the area. That way, he said, year-round alternate-side parking could be eliminated and only done when necessary.

Wenzler said that while safety is always a concern, he felt it was not really a problem at Marquette, because of the collaboration between the Milwaukee Police Department and the Department of Public Safety. He said he would encourage the collaboration.

Maddick said she would meet with Marquette students and administration to address the issue of meters not offering enough time for students to attend classes. She said she would be open to exploring the option of ending overnight parking restrictions.

She said she would make no "arbitrary promises" about eliminating fees for parking permits. She would examine the budget and see if such a thing would work, as the fees are a large source of revenue.

"If we eliminate that, we have to find the revenue from somewhere else," she said. Maddick agreed that safety is not a problem at Marquette.

While Greene described Milwaukeeans as "fee-soaked" and promised no increase in fees, he said he would not eliminate the overnight parking permit fee. He said it helps identify stolen cars, but identified with residents who are upset at having to pay for parking in front of their houses.

Greene said he would work to coordinate meters with students' classes, but said "we can't put in six-hour meters."

One way of ending aggressive panhandling on campus would be to find out who repeatedly does it and see if they have any criminal convictions. He said such convictions often come with parole.

We could "work with that to get them not allowed within 500 feet of an area," he said.

Bauman, on the other hand, said "the city of Milwaukee has to make a policy decision (on whether parking enforcement is a) source of revenue or a land use tool." Changing parking restrictions would be possible, "but somebody's going to have to raise the property tax rate. I'm willing to have that debate."

He said there needs to be a "rational, practical, workable solution that doesn't break the bank in terms of city cash flow." He said coordinated mass transit is one of the best parking solutions.

Bauman said systems Chicago has where people can park their cars in one area and take mass transit all over the city are a good idea.

As far as crime in the city, Bauman looks for a relationship between MPD and DPS.

"I think it is critical for an elected official to be a liaison between" MPD and the university and DPS, he said.

Rosner would use "common sense" as alderman. He said he has an "ABCs to better city government" plan. He said the current amount of meters is too much and limits need to be reviewed. He cited prior incidents of the common council changed limits when lobbied.

"The revenue parking brings in is a drop in the bucket," he said. "We want to prevent (law breaking), but not as parking Nazis — like as we have been."

Rosner said he would try to end strict winter restrictions. He would lobby the county executive to possibly reduce bus fares.

Getting the community to come together is a good way to reduce crime, he said. Rosner would encourage residents to get involved in similar programs and hopes to make sure police services are fully funded.

Thaves said he is against a current budget proposal that would add 10 new parking checkers. Their salaries and benefits would cost the city $1.2 million, while they would generate $800,000, he said.

As alderman, he would "give people a break and save $1.2 million." He said he thinks the district "needs to look at parking structures" as an alternative to parking meters. Milwaukee needs to do what other cities have done and look at combining different modes of transportation, he said.

For example, Thaves said, the Third Ward has two parking structures on the outskirts of the neighborhood. People coming to the area can park and then take the bus wherever they need to go.

"Parking's always going to be an issue," Krawczyk said. "I don't have any (sort of) magic wand" to fix it. He said alternate side parking needs to be examined "block by block and street by street. Some places won't be able to make changes, but I think there's a lot of places we can."

Krawczyk said community service is a good way to deal with the problem of aggressive panhandling. He said the issue is more of an annoyance than a safety concern that can be addressed.