Fifth District Alderman Kurt Sinclair hasn’t had an election opponent since he took office in 1994.I guess there is a partisan hue. Although, when I entered this race in September, it did not.
That changed in a big way this year, when two challengers filed to oppose him, setting up a three-way Feb. 19 primary. The top two finishers will advance to the April 1 general election.
The northwest side district borders Somers on the west and northwest and includes Bradford High School and a cluster of newer and still-developing subdivisions.
Sinclair, 42, said he believes the wide-open race to replace retiring Mayor John Antaramian might have inspired new interest in aldermanic challengers.
Challenger JoEllyn Storz, 53, said she entered the race for that very reason.
“I think that with the changes that are coming up in the community, that it’s a good time to get involved with the city,” Storz said. “I want to keep an eye on the direction that we take; be sure that the city continues to grow and prosper.”
Kathy Carpenter, 43, said she decided to run because of how the city has handled taxes and spending.
“The tax issue is huge,” she said. “People are rather frustrated at the amount of taxes, just seeing it go up year after year after year.” Carpenter said people do not believe money should not be spent, as much as they object to what it is and is not being spent on. She said she detects some opposition to the $15 million Civil War museum and a $5 million city commitment to a new Boys & Girls Club facility on 52nd Street and 14th Avenue.
Residents believe the city should put money toward roads and other infrastructure first, Carpenter said.
If elected, Storz said she would seek to attract good jobs and preserve the city’s aging homes.
“There’s still a lot of good, affordable housing stock in Kenosha,” Storz said. “I’d like to see it stay that way.”
Storz said she would like the city to invest in itself more to move it further forward into the 21st century. She said she believes Antaramian has done a good job with urban renewal; she would like to see more growth in that area.
Sinclair, meanwhile, said he would like to continue his work on the council, which he said has included chairing the Parks Commission, pushing for amenities at Anderson and Washington park pools and listening to and assisting constituents with concerns.
“I think that I’ve demonstrated being on the council that I use a common-sense and an educated approach to my responsibilities,” Sinclair said.
Within the district, Sinclair said he hopes to work on park developments at Sunrise Park near the Stonefield and Walnut Grove subdivisions and in the St. Peter’s Basin areas.
Carpenter’s focus is on roads.
“There’s a couple of streets right here in my district that are really having a tough time,” she said, adding that she would also angle to add lights to a popular sledding hill near Bradford.
Storz said she would focus on listening and following through on constituents’ concerns, and she would like to have the city look into establishing a hotline through which residents could phone comments and complaints.
“The people in the neighborhood are the people in the neighborhood, and they see what’s going on every day,” she said.
While Sinclair touts his council experience — “I think with me, they know what they’re going to get,” he said — Carpenter and Storz said they believe their respective careers suit them well for aldermanic duties.
Carpenter said her job as a purchaser plays into the need to balance needs. Storz said working in the Kenosha County register of deeds office lends her insights about budgeting and the functions of government.
Though city races are free from party politics, the two challengers give it a partisan hue.
Carpenter is the chairwoman of the Kenosha County Republican Party, while Storz previously sought a run for state Assembly on the Democratic ticket.
I make it no secret that I am the chair of Republican Party of Kenosha County. In fact, it is something I consider an honor. The people I have met and the friends I have made that share my conservative values have been priceless.
In those moments that I become discouraged watching some of our political leaders, that is when I find my strength in my conservative friends.
The Republican party is what you make of it. If you are not willing to jump in and get involved, there is no way the party or it's elected officials will ever be what you want them to be.
I have discovered, no matter how many Republicans or conservatives I meet, I have never met one that 100% agrees with me. Not even my closest friends agree with me all of the time and that is the way I like it.
As far as my reasons for entering the race for alderman, there were several. First, I love Kenosha. I started my life off traveling a lot. My father was in the Navy.
I spent a lifetime looking for a home, a place to settle, a place to lay down roots. I found it in Kenosha. Kenosha is home.
I believe in Kenosha and her people so much, that I want to be part of her future because Kenosha is part of my future. Does that make sense?
Also, the tax issue is huge in Kenosha. I have talked to liberals, conservatives and independents and they all say the same thing- Kenosha's taxes are too high. We do not get enough bang for our buck. Citizens are frustrated with the way our government has been spending.
So get out and vote on February 19th- it is important.