Ashmore challenged by ex-Mequon mayor Pukaite
Write-in campaign brings old name back into the fray
Mequon — Former mayor Connie Pukaite is challenging former alderman Bob Ashmore with a write-in campaign for the District 2 Common Council seat.
Pukaite's campaign was orchestrated and is being run by the Committee for Election Choices, a local advocacy group which includes former Plan Commissioner David Romoser, former mayor Curt Gielow, exiting alderman Ken Zganjar, and Patrick Rochford, whom the committee is backing in the District 5 race.
Romoser said the task of the CFEC is to promote choices for voters and get people interested in local government.
"We really shouldn't have offices that aren't contested," Romoser said, "because it doesn't test the candidate, and it doesn't test the issues."
Ashmore, who filed his candidacy in December and will be the only District 2 candidate on the ballot, characterized the CFEC as "anything goes development people" and said Pukaite is "a decoy posing for these development guys."
In a Feb. 1 email, Romoser asked Gielow to help convince Pukaite to run and described his intent to run a "stealth campaign with a blitzkrieg in the final two weeks hoping we will catch Ashmore asleep."
However, the jig was up almost as soon as it began, since the email was accidentally sent to Mayor Dan Abendroth, a close political ally of Ashmore.
Pukaite said Gielow has not contacted her about the election, but Romoser said he would run the write-in campaign on her behalf if she would accept the District 2 seat in the event of a win.
"An election without choices is not an election," Pukaite said. "It's a walk through. ...How can (government) be representative if people don't have choices?"
Ashmore took issue with what he describes as a less-than-forthcoming write-in campaign and the idea that they could catch him asleep.
"I've been awake since '87 in this community. I declared my candidacy immediately, and have been out with letters and fliers and meetings," Ashmore said. "I'm an advocate for the residents. There's nothing stealth about me."
Ashmore, age not provided, served as an alderman from 1993-1999, was the treasurer of the Mequon Water Utility Referendum Committee, served on the group which produced the Mequon "Vision 2010" report, and serves on the Board of Appeals.
Ashmore describes his platform as one of low density development and fiscal conservatism. He advocates for low-traffic neighborhoods, small government, and the preservation of open space and natural areas.
"I have been very much up front," Ashmore said. "I am committed to serving the values of the Mequon residents, that they have consistently expressed in visioning reports."
Pukaite, 72, served as an alderwoman from 1981-1986 and was mayor from 1986-1992. She said the purpose of government is to promote the well-being of the community as a whole, especially with regard to future generations.
Pukaite said that while she doesn't expect to see, or encourage, the kind of rapid development that took place in the late '80s and early '90s, there does need to be growth within the city.
"If the community doesn't grow, and if there isn't a broad base of taxable properties in commercial and business and residential, if there isn't a really good balance, some part of the community is going to end up paying taxes that are too demanding," Pukaite said.
She said she hasn't always agreed with Mayor Abendroth but has no qualms about working with him.
Romoser said his only motivation in running Pukaite's campaign is to have the recommendations of the Mequon Thiensville Community Conversation Task Force "thoroughly vetted and acted upon."
"My objection to Dan Abendroth, to Bob Ashmore and the others, is they don't want it vetted," Romoser said. "They have their vision and that's it. All we're suggesting, and the committee, is that there are choices."
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