Green Bay's eight mayoral candidates square off in first forum

Green Bay's eight mayoral candidates square off in first forum
Green Bay's eight mayoral candidates square off in first forum (WLUK/Jessica Basinski)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- In a two-hour candidate forum, which remained civil, the eight men who want to be Green Bay’s next mayor took turns sharing their views on a variety of topics.

The forum packed the basement auditorium of the Brown County Central Library Wednesday evening.

Each candidate had two minutes to introduce themselves, then they were asked audience questions. Each candidate had 90 seconds to answer each question. There was no rebuttal or debate.

Some of the topics covered included what parts of the city would you focus on for economic development, what would you do to promote diversity, and homelessness.

Many candidates said their number one priority is fixing the roads. Here are parts of the answers from each candidate when asked how they would prioritize the issue:

“We have to look at what we're going to do this year, next year, five years from now, put a comprehensive plan out 10 years so we can properly budget,” said Patrick Buckley, a Brown County Supervisor, retired law enforcement officer, and owner of 57 Subway restaurants.

“I think the wheel tax is a good short-term revenue stream, but that needs to go away for sure,” said Patrick Evans, a Brown County Supervisor and vice president of business development for Knight Consulting Group / I.T.E.Q. (Industria, Tecnica, Equipamento, Quimica).

“I think we need to take $4 off this wheel tax and get rid of it and use that money to shore back up our funds and start paying the bills from where the taxes are coming from,” said Guy Zima, a former alderman and county supervisor for more than 40 years.

“If we can find ways to create revenue, roads won't be a problem,” said Paul Boucher, a self-proclaimed social researcher.

“We need to fill empty storefronts downtown, we need to get more people in here building businesses and let them pay the taxes....use that money then to make the street repairs really increase and get a lot more of those done,” said Joe Moore, a realtor with Shorewest Realtors and a former alderman.

“If we're going to take out bonds to do three times the amount of roads, we're also going to pay for them at a much higher interest rate than we could if we had a higher bond rating,” said Nick Mortensen, who currently works for his father’s business, Jones Sign Company.

“I was looking at (repairing) 3.3 percent (of city roads per year) over a 30-year period, which would replace all the roads in the City of Green Bay,” said Mark Steuer, Green Bay’s city council president.

“My friend Dave Nennig who is actually in the audience tonight ran for mayor back in 2003 and he said what this city needs is a capital improvement plan,” said Eric Genrich, a former Democratic member of the State Assembly. “Fast forward 15 years and we still don't have one. That is a big part of my platform.”

Another question the candidates were asked was what is the biggest issue facing the next mayor.

“I think what is important is to get economic development that gets on the tax roll,” said Zima.

“Having more ways to get across the river because when people get downtown it's just kind of those two bridges,” said Boucher.

“I think the biggest dilemma is probably going to be rebuilding relationships,” said Moore.

“The biggest problem facing the city is that we are in debt $152 million,” said Mortensen.

“I think it is important for the next mayor to build relationships with the county, rebuild them with the county and also all the other communities around us,” said Steuer.

“I think the attraction and retention of young talented individuals and empty nesters and sort of everybody in between is the highest priority,” said Genrich.

“We're one of the highest taxing municipalities in Brown County, yet we can't balance our budget without going to our general fund. To me that is a problem,” said Buckley.

“The city budget is the number one issue facing everybody,” said Evans.

The top two vote getters in the February 19th primary election will face off in the general election on April 2nd.

Jim Schmitt, Green Bay’s current mayor, did not seek re-election after four terms on the job.