An Interview with John Marek: Newly Elected Town Chairman

“The message the voters sent was received loud and clear”

As election dust settles, John Marek plans what’s next

 

By Sarah Pryor
Freeman Staff

John Marek Interview

CREDIT: Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

TOWN OF WAUKESHA – Newly-elected Town Chairman John Marek had been in Le Caffé Bistro for about three minutes Friday when the first person approached him with a compliment – and a warning.

“Congratulations,” said a soft-spoken older lady, clasping Marek’s hand in both of hers. “I’ll be watching you. We’ll all be watching you.”

Marek has spent the past few months of his campaign decrying the town leadership’s handling of everything from attorneys’ fees to the city’s water service area and promising, if elected, to unite the alwaysat- odds Town Board.

Tuesday night, he unseated incumbent Angie E. Van Scyoc by about 200 votes. In two weeks, Marek will be sworn in as chairman at the town’s 171st annual meeting, along with new supervisor Larry Wolf, who unseated incumbent Everett German on Tuesday by about 400 votes.

“The message the voters sent on Tuesday was received loud and clear, at least by me: stop bickering, and get along,” Marek said Friday. “It’s time to get back to the simple business of the town.”

First on Marek’s agenda: trying to find common ground with his fellow supervisors. Next up: a new discussion about the water service area.

Water works

Earlier this year, the Town Board unanimously voted to exclude the majority of town land from the city of Waukesha’s water and sewer service area in the city’s application for Lake Michigan water. Town leadership hailed the decision as a de facto border agreement since, if the city receives Lake Michigan water, town residents would be unable to annex into the city and receive municipal water without going through the same expensive process the city has been dealing with for years.

“I believe we should be in the water service area, and I made that very vocal in the front part of the campaign,” Marek said, adding that he wants to dispel rumors that he plans to somehow mandate town residents to connect to city municipal services. “The simple fact is that the aquifer that serves the town has, as we sit here today, some contamination in it. Common sense would dictate that we need a secondary source of clean water and sanitary services if the need were to ever arise in the future.”

Waukesha Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak said if the Town Board wants to change its mind, it doesn’t have much time.

“April 30 will be the cutoff for modifications to the service area via annexation requests or a vote by the Town Board,” Duchniak said. “We have to move forward with our application and we can’t wait any longer. Our application has been somewhat delayed because the town didn’t make its decision on the water service area in a timely fashion, and when it did make its decision, we had to go through the process of having it officially modified by the (Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission) and the (state Department of Natural Resources), which is happening right now.”

Marek said he hopes any future discussions about the water service area, or any other town business, will be civil and professional even when opinions differ.

Limiting litigation

Marek also hopes to pare down legal expenses, possibly by pulling out of some litigation altogether.

“For the Town of Brookfield incorporation, our fight should be at the level of the Department of Administration, because we have a seat at that table and will be able to talk about the real issue of whether the (Town of Brookfield) should be able to grab (Town of Waukesha) land via that incorporation,” Marek said. “Additionally, legislation is being crafted right now that would prohibit that from happening in the future or retroactively.”

Marek also said he believes his campaign goal of making the Town of Waukesha the lowest taxed municipality in the state is well within reach.

“If we could stay within budget while spending that much on legal fees, how much could we have lowered our tax levy if we didn’t have the burden of all our attorneys?” Marek said.

Marek said ultimately he’s excited to get down to the real business of moving the town forward.

“I think a good day would be one where The Freeman has a headline that says ‘The Town Board had a meeting,’ and there’s no story,” he said. “Ultimately everyone’s interests should be the same: what is proper and best for the town and its residents.”

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