Tag Archives: Chris Jenkins

Rich Kasten for Mayor of West Bend

I had intended to write my column for this week about the various offices on the ballot, but the pandemic took precedence.  With the April election being impacted by Coronavirus, I hope you are all voting early or absentee – just in case. Next week’s column will cover several races, but with the word limit, it will be necessarily light on explanation for each race. I think that several races require a fuller discussion, so here we go…

There are two candidates for West Bend Mayor: Rich Kasten and Chris Jenkins. Both of them are currently Aldermen for the city. I wrote a column a couple of months ago with some details on their backgrounds. After a lot of thought, I voted for Rich Kasten (yes, I already voted).

I like both men. They are both conservative, smart, pragmatic, and passionate about serving the community. They have both been assets on the Common Council and helped lead the city in a positive direction. For me, the decision came down to two factors.

First, Kasten is a bit older and more experienced. I worked with him years ago on a task force of some kind and he’s been my representative on the council for years. I’ve seen his patient, thoughtful work first hand. I’ve seen him get things done while building consensus along the way. He’s just been around a bit more; seen a bit more; and experienced a bit more. I have found occasion to disagree with him from time to time, but his decisions are always well thought out and rooted in conservatism and the best interests of the community.

Second, and this really came into clarity for me with the Coronavirus shutdown, Kasten works in the private sector and has for decades. His coworkers are in the private sector. His friends work in the private sector. He sees and lives with the consequences of government action and inaction every day. Particularly as the people and businesses of the City of West Bend recover from the government-forced recession, I am more comfortable with a Mayor who is living it like the rest of us. I have no doubt that Jenkins’ heart is in the right place, but he only worked for a short time in the private sector. He currently works for a government and serves/has served in multiple government positions. As conservative a someone might personally be, being a government employee brings with it a different mindset.

Rich Kasten has been a great Alderman and he’ll be an even better Mayor of West Bend.

West Bend to Choose a New Mayor

Since the blog was down on Tuesday, I forgot to post this. Here is my column that ran in the Washington County Daily News earlier in the week.

The citizens of West Bend will choose between two candidates for mayor on April 7. Rich Kasten and Chris Jenkins are both conservatives on West Bend’s Common Council. I supported both candidates when they ran for city office. Both candidates have committed to continuing the trajectory of conservative leadership in West Bend. Where they differ is on experience and priorities.

Chris Jenkins is a 2007 West Bend West graduate, husband and father of five children, and earned degrees in theology and political science. Jenkins has been active in the community and his church throughout his adult life. After working in the private sector for a few years, he accepted the job of the village administrator, clerk, and treasurer for the village of Elmwood Park in 2018. Jenkins also serves as the president of West Bend Early-Risers Kiwanis, president of Musical Masquers, public affairs specialist for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the elected positions of District Four county supervisor for Washington County and District Four alderman for the city of West Bend. He is not running for re-election for county supervisor and he has another year left in his term as alderman.

If elected, Jenkins has said that his focus will be on launching a collaborative community-driven process to refresh the city’s strategic plan modeled after the Value Task Force used at the dawn of former Mayor Kraig Sadownikow. From there, Jenkins is committed to fiscal discipline and conservative leadership. Rich Kasten graduated from Marquette University with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1991 and moved to West Bend with his wife 21 years ago to raise their three children. Kasten has worked in the private sector in technical and management roles having spent the last 11 years at a Wisconsin cheese company. He is finishing his third term as the District Five alderman for the city of West Bend (my current alderman) where he chaired the Finance, Public Works, and Long Range Transportation committees. As alderman, Kasten earned a reputation as a fiscal watchdog with a deep knowledge of the underlying data. He also worked on the team to negotiate union contracts on behalf of the city, volunteered for the West Bend Crime Prevention Patrol, and worked on a Citizen Financial Advisory Committee for the West Bend School District.

If elected mayor, Kasten wants to work with Washington County on a plan to share the county sales tax with municipalities and leverage his experience on transportation issues to develop creative ways to stretch the city’s transportation and infrastructure dollars. Like Jenkins, Kasten wants to get more members of the community involved in developing the city’s strategic direction.

Since there are only two candidates, there will not be a primary election for mayor. Each candidate will have until April 7 to make his case to the voters. As we look forward to the next chapter in West Bend’s history, there are challenges and opportunities that the next mayor will need to tackle.

West Bend has been a city in transition. Since the manufacturing heydays of the 1970s and 1980s, the city’s economy has blossomed in the financial services and technical industries. With the recent annexation of land for a new industrial park on the south side, the next mayor will need to be a passionate and effective ambassador to lure businesses. Part of that will be ensuring that the city’s core infrastructure remains satisfactory.

Another area of focus should be preventing crime and punishing criminals. The West Bend police do a phenomenal job, but their jobs are getting harder. West Bend is not a sleepy Mayberry. It is a vibrant community with people moving in and out of it to work and play. The highways that connect us to the rest of the state also serve as conduits for criminals, drugs, human trafficking, and other contagions to augment the local criminal element. West Bend needs to be proactive and energetic in ensuring the safety of the people and property of West Bend.

The city has done a good job in the last several years of putting the city’s fiscal house in order. The mayor and Common Council have dramatically lowered debt, improved the city’s bond rating, kept spending and taxes stable, and avoided the worst of the long-term unfunded liabilities. But that was after decades of increasing spending, increasing taxes, and running up debt. It only takes one vote to squander years of good fiscal management. The next mayor must never relent in protecting the taxpayers from the worst impulses of people who relish spending other people’s money.

Chris Jenkins or Rich Kasten will have the privilege of leading West Bend into what could be a transformational decade. It won’t be easy. Who is ready for it?

Jenkins Starts

Chris Jenkins was sworn in as West Bend’s 4th District Alderman tonight. He asked me to share this note:

Dear Neighbors,

Let me start by extending my appreciation to Alderman Randy Koehler for his 4 years of dedicated service to our community. Thank you Randy.

Today, I will be sworn in as your next Alderman, beginning a new chapter for our City and pushing forward an agenda of continued fiscal responsibility and community representation on the City Council. I’ve begun meeting with numerous City officials and employees so I may represent you to the best of my abilities. I am excited to take my experiences from my service leading the West Bend Community Memorial Library Board and my work in the local private sector and put them into action.

Being dedicated to representing my constituents to the best of my abilities, I encourage you to visit our District’s new website: www.WestBendDistrict4.com where news, business, and community information will continually be updated.

I look forward to the next 2 years serving you – the hardworking taxpayers of our City.

 

Faithfully yours,

Chris Jenkins

Jenkins Wins West Bend’s 4th District

Congratulations to Chris Jenkins

West Bend Alderperson District 4

100% reporting
Name Votes Vote %
Chris Jenkins 266 54%
Randy Koehler (inc) 227 46%

 

And a big “thank you” to Randy Koehler for serving the district so well for the past 4 years. Let’s hope he chooses to stay involved and lend his talents to continuing to improve our community.

Conservative choices in the 4th aldermanic district

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here it is:

Of all of the elections on the ballot next month in West Bend, perhaps the most interesting one is also the smallest. The voters in the 4th aldermanic district of the city of West Bend will make a choice that is symbolic in the recent history of the city’s Common Council.

For many years, West Bend’s city government had been an insular, lethargic, somewhat typical small city body where everyone seemed to go along to get along. Taxes crept up most years without much fuss and the size and scope of city government followed the trajectory that its own momentum created.

In 2007, things began to change. In the heat of a particularly obnoxious appointment for a mayoral replacement that reeked of the “good ole’ boy” network at play, many conservative citizens of West Bend decided that they had had enough and wanted their city to reflect their values. It began with the election in April 2008 when conservatives Tony Turner and Richard Lindbeck were elected to the council over the more centrist incumbents. That gave conservatives a majority on the Common Council that they have held ever since. That conservative majority has strengthened and now includes Mayor Kraig Sadownikow.

The results of conservative city leadership have been impressive. West Bend has not had a tax increase in this decade. The budget has been balanced. City debt has been reduced. Meanwhile, the police station was expanded, city services have been maintained and city employees are seeing a pay raise this year. Conservative leadership works.

The alderman for district 4, Randy Koehler, has been part of this conservative revival. He defeated one of the incumbent liberal aldermen — Nick Dobberstein, in 2011 — solidifying the conservative majority. Koehler voted for several of those no-tax-increase budgets, supported library board members whose values were more in line with the public, backed many of the positive reforms in city government and has generally been a solid conservative voice on the council.

Last year, Koehler began to shift his message about taxes. He voted against the last city budget because the ratio of debt service in that budget. Koehler also began saying that the council should consider tax increases as one of many options on the table. Koehler has never advocated for a tax increase, but he has said repeatedly that a tax increase should be considered while not offering any further solutions for otherwise balancing the budget.

In August, Koehler announced that he was not going to run for re-election. On that news, Chris Jenkins, whom Koehler defeated in the primary in 2011, stepped into the race. Koehler changed his mind in November and decided to run after all, setting up the contest between Jenkins and himself in April.

Jenkins is no stranger to running for office. At age 25, he already has two unsuccessful races under his belt including a run for mayor when he was 18. Jenkins is a vocal conservative of the libertarian bent with a passion for public service. He has recently shown his conservative mettle as the president of the West Bend Library Board. Jenkins has garnered an impressive array of endorsements including Rep. Bob Gannon, former alderman Tony Turner, Common Sense Citizens President Paula Becker, School Board members Randy Marquardt and Rick Parks, and many others.

Jenkins can add me to that list of supporters. Koehler has been a good conservative alderman who can be proud of his service to his constituents. His two terms have been marked by many achievements for which we can all be proud. But his recent openness to tax increases and lack of concrete initiatives for further reforms or economic development do not bode well for a third term. There might come a time when the Common Council will have to come to the taxpayers and ask them to approve a tax increase or risk vital city services, but we are not near that time yet.

In contrast, Jenkins’ firm stance against tax increases and passion for reform would bring a fresh perspective to the Common Council and continue the conservative revival of our city. Once again the voters of West Bend’s 4th district are privileged to choose between two conservative leaders. This time they should choose Chris Jenkins.

Randy Koehler Flips: Will Run for Reelection

Well, this is interesting. Randy Koehler is a West Bend Alderman who announced this summer that he would not run for reelection. Now he has changed his mind and will run. Koehler is one of the only aldermen who has been pushing for property tax increases the past few years and was frustrated because the rest of the council did not want to raise taxes. From Judy Steffes’ story in the Daily News:

“I’d rather see it gradually increase rather than one big increase and this was the perfect year to do it because MPTC (Moraine Park Technical College) and the West Bend School District went down, and this would have been our chance to go up a bit and really not affect the other tax bill. But nobody wanted to agree with me.”

When Koehler had said he wasn’t running, Chris Jenkins, the president of the West Bend Community Memorial Library Board, had already thrown his hat in the ring. Jenkins is a vocal conservative who has done a good job on the library board. He has run for the City Council unsuccessfully in the past. Although I have not seen a statement from Jenkins promising to keep property taxes frozen, he advocates for conservative positions and I would expect such a position soon.

District 4 in West Bend will have a pretty clear choice in April. The incumbent candidate wants to end the 4-year trend of property tax freezes for the city. The challenger is running as a conservative who will likely maintain the spending and taxing discipline the city has demonstrated in recent years. The April election just got more interesting in West Bend.