New blood guaranteed on Mequon Common Council
Candidates offer views on issues facing 5th District
Mequon — Two political newcomers are facing off this spring in Mequon's 5th District aldermanic race, and each has views on such hotly contested issues as the Highland Road interchange and economic development.
Mark Gierl and Patrick Rochford are vying for the position being vacated by incumbent Mark Seider, who chose not to seek re-election.
With weeks to go before the spring election, Gierl and Rochford said they have been meeting with constituents and touting their strengths, which include being novices to the political arena.
"The longer you are in politics, the more you act like everybody else," said Gierl, who has served on the council's appointed Board of Appeals and Park Board.
Gierl said he believes his background in finance also is an asset he brings to the position.
"I want to take a look and see if we really are getting value for the services we receive in this city," he said. "I believe we can cut out some of the waste."
Rochford said he believes he can bring a fresh perspective to the council. He decided to run so he could stand up to what he describes as an "anti-growth movement" within the 5th District and the city as a whole.
"I'm an analytical person with a background in market research," Rochford said. "In my position, I've learned to listen. If you're not listening and inquiring, you're not a good researcher. I'm also pretty good with numbers."
Differ on interchange
When it comes to the proposed Highland Road interchange — an issue that falls within the 5th District — Gierl and Rochford have different viewpoints.
Gierl said he is concerned the interchange could result in increased crime and traffic concerns. But Rochford said he is not convinced the interchange will bring such problems to the community.
"I'm supporting it," Rochford said of the interchange project. "I think (the lack of an interchange) has slowed growth in this area. The road is well designed for this."
Gierl said he has not made a definitive decision on the interchange.
"I'd like to see the results from the impact study and look at it from all facets, including what it will cost," he said.
When it comes to economic development, Gierl and Rochford agree procedural improvements could be made at City Hall to better balance the interests of residents and developers.
"There's a zoning code on the city's books," Gierl said. "The thing is, we rarely follow it. There's a real lack of communication. Residents will receive a postcard a few days before a meeting."
Rochford said he would like to see the city take a more progressive approach to development. "There are people who want Mequon to be the way it was in the 1970s and 1980s," he said.
Must work with district
Both were adamant in their desire to have the city work collaboratively with officials in the Mequon-Thiensville School District.
"We're one in the same," Rochford said. "(The city and school district) might be governed separately, but they need to work together cohesively. I want our schools to be the best."
Gierl said he believed a strong relationship was important, in part because school reputations frequently drive home sales.
"People see value in our school system, and it's important we keep it that way."
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