Hang on to your hats, Mequonites, the political follies have started. It’s been fifteen years since Mayor Moriarty left office with his objective of turning Mequon into an ante-bellum community of no modern conveniences with a "No Progress in Mequon" agenda. He didn’t quite succeed but he and his merry minions created quite a rumpus over his term. I’m told by some long-term residents that watching those common council meetings, which often lasted until two in the morning, was more fun that any television show on the networks. Well, Moriarty is long gone, but his gang has been reconstituted with old members and new recruits to the cause with the same mission, "No Progress in Mequon"
In the interests of transparency, I was an alderman for three of those Moriarty years as were our newly elected mayor, Dan Abendroth and continuing Alderwoman Pam Adams. Both were avid Moriarty supporters along with then Alderman Bob Ashmore, who in my opinion, was Moriarty’s greatest lackey. Ashmore has re-appeared on the political scene, something like the cicadas after a long hibernation, as Abendroth’s mayoral campaign co-chairman. So it appears that the Moriarty gang is resurfacing with those old faces and some new ones, including Alderman Dale Mayr, who, by coincidence, happens to be Moriarty’s brother-in-law and Alderman Mark Seider. Seider’s position appears to have hardened because of his fury over then Mayor Gielow casting the tie-breaking vote for approval of a Taco Bell in his District on N. Port Washington Road. His constituents were up-in-arms over the Taco Bell, averring that the traffic, noise, litter, light pollution and ordor to be generated in their area was more than they should have to bear. Of course, now that the Taco Bell has been in place for a reasonable period of time – have any of those fears come true? In a word - NO, but Seider apparently never forgives or forgets! So he, Adams and Mayr publicly endorsed Abendroth, whereas the other four aldermen remained neutral, as all the alderpersons were requested to do by then Mayor Curt Gielow.
After the landed gentry, who saw Mequon as becoming too progressive, elected Abendroth as mayor over Gielow, supporting his "No Progress in Mequon" agenda, the positions became clear. The first conflict occurred in the election of the Common Council President. The two candidates, Mayr and Zganjar received three and four votes respectively, when it required five votes to be elected. An eighth vote was absent because of the missing alderman from District 1. Abendroth ran for both that position and for mayor. When he won both, he quite naturally selected the mayoral slot leaving District 1 without an aldermanic representative.
The three votes for Mayr came from the Moriarty gang, Adams, Mayr and Seider. But Adams decided to break ranks and offer the fifth vote if she would be appointed to the Planning Commission. While some might think that this vote trade has ethics complications, the Mequon Ethics Board does not, apparently considering it normal political maneuvering. Thus, Alderman Ken Zganjar was elected to a one year term as Common Council President.
But that was just the first engagement of the two opposing forces – the three alderpersons, (Adams, Mayr, Seider) versus the four other aldermen (Nerbun, Hawkins, Zganjar, Leszczynski). Now it was time to appoint an alderperson to represent District 1 until a mandatory election could be held in April 2014. Two candidates vied for the position, Robert Strelzcyzk and Robert Holz. Strelzcyzk had run for the District 1 aldermanic position and garnered 47% of the vote. Holz, an attorney, was engaged in a law suit with the City against the owner of the River Club.
Guess what? The vote was four to three for Strelzcyzk and Holz respectively with the same battle lines drawn as before. The three Moriarty gang members must see Strelzcyzk as the key to stopping their "No Progress in Mequon" agenda, since he could provide a fifth vote needed for passing major initiatives. Of course, Mayor Abendroth could veto any such initiative and the six votes to override are not likely to appear.
The comments at the June 11 Common Council meeting, regarding District 1's missing alderman were enlightening – and a little strange at times. Alderman Nerbun observed that Strezelcyzk wasn’t a "Curt Gielow devotee," to possibly allay the fears of the Moriarty gang that he would stifle their "No Progress in Mequon" position. Leszczynski, Hawkins and Zganjar all expressed the view that Strezelcyzk’s willingness to enter the electoral arena and garner 47% of the District 1 votes was a positive reason for his appointment. "I think Mr. Strzelcyzk earned this appointment" said Leszczynski.
No response was forthcoming from the Moriarty alderperson gang, but some residents were not silent. Their main message was that it would be better to leave the seat vacant and District 1 unrepresented than to appoint a man who had actually had enough community spirit to vie for the seat in an open election. If Holz is not selected, then their next choice is......nobody! But the coup de gras of rationales was delivered by Bob Ashmore, Abendroth’s campaign co-chair who pontificated that leaving District 1 without an aldermanic representative could be a plus, because the new mayor, Abendroth, "who ably represented District 1 for 27 years is not deceased......and is able to represent their interests." So the mayor, who was elected to represent all Mequon residents now has a double constituency to cater to, perhaps putting him, on occasion, between Sylla & Charibdis – not a good place to be. But carrying on Ashmore’s recommendation to fruition, Mequon should change its charter ordinance to remove the aldermanic representative from any district where the mayor resides. Mequon could save some money and with only seven alderpersons there would never be a tie vote for the mayor to break. Of course, the district where the mayor resided would never have a vote on any Mequon issue, since the mayor can only vote in the event of a tie. But, what the heck, it moves Mequon backwards and fits right in with the new political mission, "No Progress in Mequon."
So, stay tuned -- the Mequon political follies is just getting underway.