Debate Answers Backfire on Mayoral Candidates

It was a standing room only turnout for the 2014 mayoral debate Wednesday night at Carroll College’s Stackner Ballroom.  Seated front-and-center was incumbent mayor, Jeff Scrima, and candidates Shawn Reilly, Terry Thieme, and Michael Valpaono.

Citizens listened quietly in anticipation of learning more about the four candidates and who would best serve our city for the next four years.

Questions that drew responses to alternative water deals, taxes, the Clarke Hotel, and downtown events such as “Freeman Friday Night Live” were presented, and each candidate expressed their opinions and ideals for each question.  On many occasions Scrima opponents attempted to allege lack of leadership, oftentimes referencing notes to guide their words.  However, I believe they failed to support their allegations with any hard facts.

Mayor Jeff ScrimaMayor Scrima successfully drove his “Moving Waukesha Forward” motto home, articulating from memory the significant progress that Waukesha has made since he took office four years ago.  Flat taxes, amplifying downtown events that bring thousands of visitors to our city, and the no-strings-attached water deal with Oak Creek highlighted only a few achievements of Scrima’s four year tenure as Waukesha mayor.

Although there were several instances where opponents struggled for the right words, on a few occasions things became visibly awkward for opponents as they attempted to challenge the mayor.  Below are some of those highlights


Mike VolpanoKeeping taxes in check

When asked, Volpano responded that he couldn’t guarantee that he could maintain taxes at their all time low.  Scrima, meanwhile, reiterated that his number one priority is to keep taxes in check like he has for the past four years.



Shouldn’t the President of the Waukesha Common Council know this?

When questioning the candidates about an alternative (“plan B”) for water in the event the Great Lakes water deal Terry Thiemefalls through, Thieme responded that he was familiar with the application for Great Lakes water, which he opinioned was contingent on there NOT being any other viable (“plan B”) resource for Waukesha to attain water.

Mayor Scrima countered that the application for Great Lakes water requires other viable alternatives, and Waukesha’s application included several other viable, but much more expensive options.

Thieme’s answer left me wondering if he really was familiar with Waukesha’s Great Lakes water application and what part he has in it.


Shawn ReillyAn attorney should know better than to open the door…

During one of discussion answers candidate Shawn Reilly commented that he supported the Waukesha BID and was sorry to see it go – ultimately blaming the mayor for it being dissolved.

Mayor Scrima remarked that it was interesting how Reilly would make such a comment when Reilly himself was one of the individuals circulating petitions to dissolve the BID last year. Although given an opportunity, Reilly didn’t refute the claim.

Aside from doing away with the Waukesha BID, I am skeptical of Reilly’s endorsement of Freeman Friday Night Live’s closed street venue when he has openly opposed the Friday Night Live street closures in support of a couple downtown businesses.

Does the fate of Freeman Friday Night Live hang in the balance of who is elected mayor in 2014?


Overall I left the debate without learning anything new about the three opposing candidates other than their belief that they can do the job better, and that they liked pointing fingers and criticizing mayor Scrima.

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