Here is my full column that I wrote for the Washington County Daily News this week.
2020 will prove to be an eventful year. Much of the year will be consumed with Americans choosing a president. The United Kingdom will finally leave the European Union after the people were compelled to return to the voting booth to reassert their will. The Middle East will continue to roil with unpredictable consequences. While world and national events are important, the changes happening in our state and local communities also have a big impact on our lives. Here are a few changes that will happen in my local jurisdictions and some results that I would like to see.
The city of West Bend will get a new mayor. Late last year, Mayor Sadownikow stepped down to avoid a conflict of interest with his business, but he had already signaled that he would not run for re-election. Under Sadownikow’s leadership, West Bend enjoyed years of solid conservative fiscal management. Taxes were kept flat. The city greatly reduced its debt. The mayor helped negotiate labor contracts to protect the city’s taxpayers from future unfunded liabilities. Economic development thrived and city services improved. It was a good run.
The new mayor of West Bend should learn from Sadownikow’s example and continue that trajectory. This will be no small task. Immediately after Sadownikow stepped aside, the Common Council voted to raise property taxes and the city Water Utility passed a substantial rate increase. Sadownikow’s absence was immediately felt and the liberal tax increasers got their way. The new mayor will need to use all of his or her wiles to thwart the efforts of the newly insurgent liberals on the council.
Washington County will also get its first county executive after voting to restructure county government. As the first county executive of Washington County, he or she will have the opportunity to set precedents and a tone for the future. The new executive should collaborate with the county’s municipalities to tell the world that our county is “Open for Business,” to steal a phrase from former Gov. Scott Walker. There is an economic boom happening in our state and nation and Washington County has a lot to offer businesses that move and grow here.
The West Bend School District is also facing a year of change. The steady decline in enrollment that has been happening for years has accelerated and shows no sign of slowing. Meanwhile, the school district is saddled with heavy infrastructure and labor costs that are increasingly unaffordable. With big challenges come big opportunities to make bold changes. Act 10 gives the School Board vast discretion to rebuild the school district on conservative principles of educational excellence, fiscal restraint, and forward- looking innovation. As the Private Task Force demonstrated, this can be done while reducing spending and taxes. The citizens of the West Bend School District deserve nothing less.
For the first time in a couple of generations, the good folks in the 5th Congressional District will have a new representative in Washington. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner is serving his final year in office. He has been a conservative lion in the House of Representatives and helped cultivate and lead a generation of conservative leaders throughout the state. While Sensenbrenner’s successor will undoubtedly assume office with a different style and priority, the people of the 5th have earned the right to be represented by someone who will continue to champion conservatism in the House.
Finally, the board is set for 2020 in the state of Wisconsin. The Republicans will almost certainly retain control of the state legislature and Gov. Tony Evers will remain a devoted liberal Democrat. For conservative Wisconsinites, it is unrealistic to expect the continuation of the conservative renaissance that we have enjoyed for the previous decade, but they can expect that Republicans in the Legislature hold on to the gains. Wisconsin is enjoying the fruits of conservative leadership with a booming economy, stable budgets, rising wages, high employment, protections for our rights to freely associate and bear arms, and so much more. Hopefully 2020 will end without Wisconsin regressing.
By the time 2021 dawns, the landscape will look very different around here. We have work to do to make sure we will like what we see.