DEMOCRACY RETURNS TO LAKE GENEVA
The City of Lake Geneva Mission Statement
“Our mission is to preserve its small-city atmosphere, reasonable cost of living and high quality of life by carefully controlling land use and development and delivering high-quality programs and services in a responsible manner.”
Four alderperson positions will be open for election, or re-election, come this next April 2020. Each of those positions, in all four districts, will be sought by more than one prospective candidate. Unlike so many elections before, these contests will have more than one unopposed candidate running, usually, the incumbent, wanting to continue to serve the community. The position of mayor will also be contested. Tom Hartz will run again, as the incumbent, while Charlene Klein will run in opposition.
In many ways, this spirited return to contests wherein different ideas and policy directions are presented, will not be quite as wildly different than contested elections from years gone by. The single biggest issue, and the one that will likely determine whether one candidate wins over another has become how any particular candidate for office regards the coming of the votes with respect to the new updated comprehensive plan as it applies to the Hillmoor property tract located on the eastern edge of Lake Geneva.
At each of many city council, plan commission, and other meetings open to public comment and participation, great numbers of citizens showed up to voice opinions about that property’s development. Almost unanimously the public has spoken against the development, and the developers, of that property. Although the final votes regarding the comprehensive plan modifications (to include Hillmoor) will be made prior to the coming April election results, the issue of being for or against its development will likely be the sole determinant in whether one candidate for office wins over another. No candidate is likely to win if he or she is not opposed to that development and the votes held beforehand by the commission and council will likely have no effect at all.
The position of the city attorney is also up for election, but there is little doubt at this time (the very last minutes) that anyone other than the current attorney, Dan Draper, will be applying or putting in papers (signatures of qualified voting-qualified citizens are required to be accepted as a verifiable candidate). Dan Draper is the one candidate that should be turned away from the office, but is not going to be, at least not this time around. He has always run unopposed, by the way, as the number of practicing attorneys who actually live in Lake Geneva proper is nearly zero.
Running for alderperson will include the return of Terry O’Neill, a long-time serving alderperson from years ago, back when the Hummel property was at the forefront of protested meetings. O’Neill served brilliantly, just as he’s done since that time, writing and working away at being a city activist.
Mary Jo Fesenmaier will also be back in the running, while Charlene Klein will oppose the current mayor.
Joni, from Joni’s Diner, that neat diner located on the east side of Wells, will be “throwing her hat into the ring.”
Will Esarco’s entry into the alderperson race, against Mary Jo, go well for her, given just how totally opposed Mary Jo has been to the development of the Hillmoor property, while her own opposition has been tepid, at best?
The secondary issue of this coming campaign season will probably swirl around two other issues; the proposed increase in parking rates and the potential for the closure of Wrigley Drive and its subsequent conversion to a park. Joni, from the diner, will remain a relative unknown when it comes to these issues, until such time as she declares what her positions really are.
All in all, it appears that the City of Lake Geneva will return to a time when the issues are argued rather than simply gauging the personalities of the people running behind them.