About the aldermanic races

Yes, it’s true. I still keep up with local politics. So, I thought we’d review the aldermanic races.

There are contested races in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 7th districts. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the 4th and 5th districts are hopeless. The 6th is wise to keep Chris Blackburn.

The first district match up is between incumbent Alderman Dan Sutton and formerly elected Dick Brunner. I’ve told you before I’m a Dan Sutton fan. Oh, we don’t agree every time, but it’s much more than Brunner and I agreed.

You’ve seen Brunner in action (or lack of action) most recently on the school district’s HSST team. This will explain recent comments from “Walter,” who is really the Elmbrook School district PR guru Andy Smith, and his undocumented complaint against Sutton.

Brunner was a career bureaucrat for Waukesha County. I once said he never met a tax increase he didn’t like, and I meant it. I will admit that 5th district Alderman Scott Berg and I did conspire one year to elect Dick Brunner council president. The premise? First do no harm. It was a blissful two years sans Steve Ponto at the helm. It worked. After that I supported Bill Carnell two years ago to replace Brunner. That worked, too. (I will not lie. Politics is a messy business.)

Anyway, Sutton is meeting some resistance this election. It’s not a bad thing to have an opponent. It is a rotten thing to have an opponent that has no intention of separating truth from fiction. Brunner’s biggest beef with Sutton (except that Sutton holds a position Brunner feels he is owed) is an expenditure to spend money in the district to repave some roads.

Brunner is as lost on this issue as he can be. The business owners in the 1st district deserve to have roads in the area repaved. The city spent years (can’t use that word) messing around with plans to buy them out. Mayor Jeff Speaker and former alderman Dick Brunner walked away from literally generations of taxpayers in that corner in favor of pretend growth. It all fell apart. The Community Development Authority, which Speaker chairs and Brunner supported, finally had to admit their plans were bunk and dropped the long-term goal to use eminent domain in the area in favor of a few developers. Frankly, the decision was one of my greatest victories that you never heard about. That and the unanimous council’s approval to finally make improvements that are years overdue. (I absolutely love winning when I didn’t have to sit through the long, long meeting!)

So now that Brunner is stomping around the district trying to rally voters on this issue, I’m thinking, huh? The 1st district is one of the historically ignored districts in the city. Good for Sutton for finally getting some infrastructure improvements in the area.

Funniest Brunner line? He wants to end the petty bickering on the Common Council. I guess that means he’s either a happy rubber stamp for whatever the Mayor and his staff throw out or he intends to off a few 4th and 5th district council members. I bet it’s the rubber stamp thing.


Terry Halmstad is my choice in the 2nd, but you know that. Here are some promises the incumbent made four years ago (bold items are taken verbatim from his campaign brochure) and never bothered to keep.

–Responsible growth
Brookfield continues to approve new retail space granting developers extra privileges to pack more square footage onto less land. Little is done to protect the water supply or manage waste from these projects.
–Development guided by strategic planning, not by developers
He sits on the plan commission. When a project doesn’t fit the 2020 Master Plan, he’s learned to amend the plan first so it will fit.
–Adherence to established zoning guidelines not subject to meet a developer’s needs
He continues to push special Planned Development Districts, rules that have no restrictions for height or square footage, over the current zoning laws. Almost every development he approves is special PDD zoning.
–Fiscal restraint
The budgets he approves continue to hide hundreds of thousands in special funds that are not spent.
–Freeze property tax rates
Property tax rates have increased year after year.
–Rollback future aldermanic pay increases
A rollback never happened. The council remains one of the most expensive in Wisconsin.


The 3rd district matches incumbent Ron Balzer against the man he beat, Jack Shaw. Shaw picked up a blog courtesy Journal Sentinel/CNI after he filed his nomination papers. Shaw is extremely pro-Speaker, which means pro-development. I’ve heard him argue on the council floor for goodies the developer hadn’t even publicly asked for prior to the vote. He’s also amazingly arrogant. You’d have to spend a half hour with him to find out for yourself, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Balzer is the complete opposite. No, he and I don’t always agree, but he’s a good guy. He was also a former city employee, so he knows where the bodies are buried, so to speak. He single handedly fought to reduce the fleet expenses. He spent two years head to head against Speaker’s right-hand-brain Dean Marquardt. In the end, Balzer convinced the council the reductions were viable.

Balzer also has the distinction of winning even though he had withdrawn in the race against Shaw four years ago. There was a problem with timing his city retirement. He took it early to serve the voters in his district.


The 7th district has political newcomer Renee Lowerr running against perennial candidate Tom Schellinger. Schellinger is currently and will remain a district supervisor for Waukesha County. (He’s also on the ballot there uncontested.) He wants his seat back on the council. Two years ago Lisa Mellone beat him for his place. Now that Mike Franz is retiring, he thinks he should get it back.

Lowerr should win. This woman has more energy than anyone I’ve ever met. She’s connected, personable, and wears the distinction of the only woman to ever beat back one of Mayor Jeff Speaker’s Planned Development Districts. I think she’ll be just fine.

If she agrees with you, you’ll have a remarkable advocate. If she doesn’t, she’ll tell you up front. She is above all kind, and the council can use some of that.


E-mail me if you want voting records or other details prior to Tuesday. I’ll be glad to share what I can find.


  1. Scott Berg says:

    Well, since you are such a stickler for being FAIR i.e. “To a sufficient degree; in an evenhanded manner”, perhaps you should point out a few things.

    Dan Sutton failed to get an aldermanic pay reduction from the personnel committee (actually Human Resources and Public Safety Committee, but I was the lone vote against that change – and how did you vote?) he served on. He blamed his failure on Steve Ponto. Then he failed to get the change passed from the council floor. (I moved the compromise that passed.) Again, he blamed Steve Ponto. He then used the 3/4 majority rule to block Ponto from serving as chair of the personnel committee. So, two failures plus holding the personnel and legislative committes hostage for several months is leadership?

    As for Rick Owen, recall that he defeated Jerry Wolfe in 2004. Could Jerry’s alleged endorsement of Halmstadt be a revenge move? Funny how you pointed out the endorsement but not the defeat.

    As for perennial candidates, who lost in 1998, was appointed in 2002, won in 2003, then lost in 2006 while being rumored as considering running for assemblyman? Sounds like a lot checkered record to me.

    Then again, this post probably will be blocked, just like the one on water mains which you deleted, but then posted the information I supplied as your own. But I have a plan for that problem…

  2. Well at least you use your own name, Scott. You’re running unopposed in one of the hopeless districts, but I suspect you can’t stand it that I didn’t laud you, so you weighed in.

    Can you show me where Sutton promised to get a pay reduction? I have Owen’s original campaign literature where he did promise. The rest of your babble is speculation. I don’t think Sutton could have “blocked” anything on his own.

    It’s Wolff, not Wolfe, and I suppose your speculation could be correct, but Jerry Wolff is an amazing man and I doubt very seriously if that’s the case. Also, Jerry and Terry have prayed side by side at St. Dominic’s for a couple of decades.

    Yes, Scottie, I think I lost in 98 by a dozen votes or so. But I got 3800 votes and you didn’t even try. You’re big on rumors, but that’s all it was for the position of representative.

    I have no idea about the last bit, but that’s typical Scott Berg – I’m sure Berg is building a case for something in his mind. God willing, I won’t get any personal organ body-part pictures.

    I need to disclose that I just made an open records request of Berg about 4:00pm. Obviously, he’s not pleased with me right now. I’m gathering information on how he intimidated a City of Brookfield voter. Berg knows it won’t be pretty.