Sound off: Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson

I received this letter this weekend. I’m happy to provide a format to air such a well articulated opinion.

Dear Cindy,

I too consider myself “fairly conservative”. I am a 25 year old grad student who lives in Waukesha. I wrote the Waukesha Freeman last week Saturday about the situation described below. They told me they would publish it on Monday, and then today, they told me that it was “too much of a personal attack” on the Mayor. Please consider posting this to your blog. I have submitted this exact email to many other Waukesha bloggers in the hope that they do the same. Taxpayers in Waukesha need to know about this!

Thank you!
James H.

To whom it may concern at the Waukesha Freeman,

I am entering into my last semester in the Master’s of Public Administration program at UWM, so maybe my idealism here is because I am fresh to local politics and have not been worn down by years of abuse. But, this past Saturday I was embarrassed to be a resident of the City of Waukesha. My family and I attended a “townhall” meeting held by two respected Republicans, U.S. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner from Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District, and State Republican Legislator Bill Kramer, who represents the 97th Assembly District of Waukesha. The meeting was scheduled for 1 p.m. in the newly renovated Waukesha Public Library. Maybe someone should have told the pride of the teachers union, Mayor Larry Nelson this. Mayor Nelson walked into the meeting 15-20 minutes late. Out of respect for the speakers, and the citizens he represents, he should have been punctual.

Mayor Nelson walked into the meeting sloppily dressed, unshaven, and with so much arrogance in his demeanor that it made me very disappointed. As I sat there, I thought to myself: is this anyway for an elected official to act? Arriving late? Dressing like he’s going to hit a round of golf at Moor Downs? We don’t pay him enough money that he cannot afford a button-down shirt or tie? I am a big guy myself, so if he needs one, I’ll gladly send him one of mine. At least I didn’t see those God-awful “Croc” sandals on. I know his lack of professional attire has been an issue before in the Freeman editorial pages, so I would have hated myself for not writing in to complain about this!

Still, there’s more…

The entire time Mayor Nelson was there he was carelessly flipping through papers, pamphlets, and who knows what else- all in a dismal attempt to pretend he was more important than what was going on. The room was filled to capacity, people lining the walls standing, myself included, with citizens GENUINELY concerned about how their hard-earned dollars were being spent in Washington D.C., and he had the AUDACITY to pull a stunt like this? Shame on you Mayor Nelson! I would be surprised if ONE sentence uttered by these two gentlemen passed through his ears. However, maybe he was the smartest man in the room, and it was possible for him to juggle all these complex legislative issues and reading materials at once, but I doubt it. I highly doubt it (my own emphasis added). Why would he even bother to come if this was going to be his attitude? One can only speculate.

The lack of respect he showed for his position as Mayor of Waukesha and for his constituents that day was mind-blowing, and what I would consider unbecoming of an elected official. The way he carried himself that afternoon was NOT representative of the type of elected official I aspire to be one day, or one that I would EVER vote for in future elections.

I was a student at Butler Middle School during the time he taught English there in the basement. If I had EVER showed him that amount of blatant disrespect, I would have been sent to detention of some sort. For that, and that alone, I am putting YOU Mayor Larry Nelson on “citizen’s detention”! Shape your act up, show some respect for the citizens of Waukesha, and for cryin-out loud, show some respect for yourself as an elected representative in the City of Waukesha.

James H.


  1. I agree. That’s a personal attack right there.

  2. I think it’s fair. He’s a representative of the city. He should act like one.

  3. I don’t think that Sensenbrenner was listening anyways. I’ve heard some real concerns at those meetings, and he always seemed to dodge the questions. That is probably why Nelson didn’t care.

  4. The Lorax says:

    I agree with grumps, but it’s not to say that if he truly was acting like this (and this isn’t hyperbole) then he should be reprimanded. Then again, DIL is right too.

  5. funny, I attended the Calhoun Rd. firestation/eminent domain public meeting and while people who’s homes were being taken were speaking our Brookfield Mayor Speaker and the Public Admid dude- Dean Marqardt or whatever his name is were doing the same thing. Speaker was fiddling with his watch the entire time and looking like he could care less on what the folks were saying and Dean was thumbing through magazines.

  6. Wilson828 says:

    If you’ve ever been to a number of govt meetings, public hearings or whatever, you’ll come to notice that there is always the usual crowd of complainers and crappers. They make a hobby to be a pain in the ass – not as constructive citizen input, but rather just a pain in the ass.

    The Sennsenboober is an idiot and should be replaced in my very outraged and vocal opinion.

    And the letter is a personal attack … or is it?

    None of what I said has anything to do with what this is about. It’s about respect and public display of decorum for the job, the public and the process. It’s that simple.

    I frankly think the author should send the letter to the mayor and have him read it.

    The guy thinks it’s cool to dress down like a bum. He thinks he’s identifying with a segment of population that will perceive him to be more open and down to earth. Shrug .. not so. For the same reason you don’t want your dentist or doctor or lawyer or banker to dress like a clod you don’t want others in a position of public trust and authority to dress like a clod and act like a boob.

    We expect a sincere and honest approach to a professional approach in managing our tax dollars. We expect to be treated with respect even if we’re a pain in the ass.

    It’s a matter of professionalism and civility and appropriate business style behavior of elected officials.

    Get a clue.

    Is it a personal attack? Yeah, probably – but it’s also a matter of opinion which is what most input at govt mtgs is about anyway .. opinion.

  7. Hey Wilson828 – if you’ll bankroll me I’ll run against Sensenbrenner. 🙂

  8. Wilson828 says:


  9. Whatever says:

    Have we heard confirmation from anyone that this is truly what took place? Or can anyone just send you a rip on a public official and you’ll post it? 🙂

  10. Not just anyone. This person had a real name!


  11. James H. says:

    I am the author of this post, and I thank Cindy for adding it to her blog. Typically I do not go to these types of meetings….most of the people who are going to these types of events have gripes or bones to chew with politicians. Someone alluded to that before, and I agree 100%. That’s not me. I went b/c I helped Bill Kramer get elected in ’06(I helped organize his literature distributions after my undergrad) and I wanted to see his “political chops” answering questions and how they have progressed/regressed. (He did a fairly good job btw) But you know, I wouldn’t have wasted my time making this up. I don’t have the time with working full time and 12 credits of night class grad school. The point of me writing this was not to personally attack the mayor, who I know personally (he was my teacher years back as mentioned, and I have done studies for Waukesha Metro that he and Bob Johnson were involved with). The point was his lack of professionalism. Right now I work for an elected official while I am finishing up school, and I couldn’t even imagine what would happen if he/she showed that type of attitude towards his/her position. I “get” that he is trying to come off as “average citizen Larry”, but I think that he has a responsibility to taxpayers to dress appropriately when he is at functions representing citizens of Waukesha. He isn’t an average person because of his position, and he should be held to a higher level of accountability. Again, thank you Cindy for posting this, and I appreciate all of the constructive comments that people have left.