Eric Severson, Aaron Perry Endorsement for Sheriff and Assembly Races

Local readers should pay very close attention to the recent endorsement published by Journalist, Jessica McBride in the 07/19/2014 Freeman at page A5.  With the August 12th primary just over three weeks away, I think it’s important for voters to take a close look at the candidates in this very important election.  Jessica did a great job of outlining the key qualifications that make Severson and Perry the best choice to lead Waukesha in a consistent, efficient, and effective path of governing.

The right men for the jobs

I don’t always write endorsement columns. Sometimes, I just don’t want to wade into it. Sometimes, there are so many good candidates that it seems unnecessary. Sometimes, though, I think people want to know what their local columnists think on important races.

I’ve decided to make two endorsements in local elections. As a columnist, I’m supporting Eric Severson for Waukesha County sheriff and Aaron Perry for Bill Kramer’s former Assembly seat.

2014 Waukesha Sheriff candidate Eric SeversonLet’s start with the sheriff’s race. It’s the easier contest. The way it breaks down for me is this: Do you like the job the Sheriff’s Department is doing — or not? Because current sheriff’s Inspector Severson is the establishment and insider candidate, who talks a lot about maintaining “consistency” of service, and his opponent, Tom Alioto, is the flamethrower who wants big change and has a history of controversy.

Historically, there are two kinds of sheriffs. There are the somewhat goofy, flamboyant types who are always causing or standing in the middle of controversy — the old-school sorts. Think Sheriff Joe.

Then, there are the sheriffs who make it about the law enforcement, not the personality, and whose approaches are more collaborative. I think Severson would be the second kind.

I don’t want big change in the Sheriff’s Department. I feel it’s a well-run agency that does a good job. I’ve met Sheriff Dan Trawicki many times (he’s supporting Severson), and Trawicki is as salt-of-the-earth as they come. He’s been an excellent sheriff (wish he’d run for the Legislature or Congress).

His “vouching” for Severson means something to me. As a matter of disclosure, my husband, who is the former DA, has endorsed and donated to Severson, but pretty much everyone else has in the local law enforcement community too, past and present, including the current DA, another former DA, three past Waukesha sheriffs, and a bunch of police and fire chiefs.

The Sheriff’s Department has run on a pretty even-keeled rudder. Sure, there have been some personnel issues here or there that spark some concern, but I think that would be true of any large law enforcement agency. I like Trawicki’s approach to contracting with other communities because I think it’s more efficient. I like his stalwart support of the Second Amendment. Severson would continue those things.

He’s got an impressive law enforcement résumé of 28 years, starting in the department as a sheriff’s deputy, working his way up, and serving in a variety of positions, including running the drug unit and supervising patrol. He’s been a community volunteer and served on various professional boards. He strikes me as a smart guy who knows what he’s doing and understands the agency, its challenges and strengths. When you boil it down, I don’t see the need for dramatic change. I feel comfortable with the direction things are going.

Alioto is a longtime Waukesha business owner who was interim chief and sergeant in the former Town of Lisbon Police Department. He simply doesn’t have Severson’s law enforcement experience in various high-level positions in a large agency. He also has a penchant for controversy. Alioto once sued the Town of Lisbon alleging retaliation, after acrimonious allegations flew back and forth between Alioto and the police chief there, and he took a stress leave in 2006 from his job with the department.

Goes without saying, but the sheriff’s job would be even more stressful.

2014 WI Assembly candidate Aaron PerryThe race for Kramer’s 97th Assembly seat is a tougher one because I think it’s full of decent candidates, all with conservative philosophies. I’m throwing my support toward Perry, the Waukesha alderman, because I think he would be a pragmatic conservative concerned mostly about efficient and effective governing. He’s already representing part of Kramer’s district, so he’s the best-versed in the district’s concerns also.

One of the other candidates has accrued a lot of traditional Republican Party support, and is a health care consultant who worked in campaign circles (I remember when he was an operative in a John Gard race), but he seems less historically invested in Waukesha and more in party. Ditto for a second candidate, whose experience is in party building. Another candidate is a real estate agent without Perry’s experience already governing. A third candidate lost a recent election, which is a tough thing to get past, even though he strikes me as well-meaning. Another candidate always struck me as a bit goofy.

Meanwhile, Perry (who is supported by Mayor Shawn Reilly) talks about neighborhood concerns in intricate, impressive detail and seems deeply invested in the community in which he serves. He’s solidly conservative but bucks some of the talking points, which is pretty courageous. He’s young enough to inject fresh ideas into the process and good at communicating. He has a strong record of actually governing so we have a good sense of how he would lead.

People can’t really go wrong in the Kramer race. There are no extremists. No one is going to declare “I am not a witch” or be accused of groping anyone (as far as I can tell). But Perry gets my nod in a close call because of his investment in the district and his strong conservative principles wedded with pragmatism.Jessica McBride-Southeast Wisconsin Journalist

(Jessica McBride is a member of the journalism faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Waukesha resident. Her column runs Saturdays in The Freeman.)


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