First District Alderman
Tell us about yourself!
I have been a homeowner/resident of Oconomowoc for seven years. My husband, Jim and I moved here from New Berlin as an answer to me wanting to live in a "small" town and him wanting to live on a lake. We have three married daughters, three grandsons, a granddaughter on the way, and we have been foster parents to many kids over the years. I am a CPA by trade and also a licensed real estate agent for Coldwell Banker. Both of those skill sets help me in navigating the city budgets and also exploration of new development within the city. In my spare time, I like to spend time with family, jog, walk, travel, read, and just take in all of the wonderful aspects of our great community!
Why are you running for re-election to the Common Council?
I initially ran for Common Council because I had been passionate and vocal when we moved here about a big condominium project that was proposed to be built on Fowler Lake where the boardwalk is now. Two other aldermen encouraged me to run to use my voice for the citizens of my district and the community overall. I am running for re-election because I feel that my work for the city is not yet done. I have found a unique voice for myself on the council and the other committees on which I serve (Finance Committee and Technology Committee) and I would like to continue to use that voice to accomplish more things in my role.
What issues do you believe our city needs to address? What are your recommendations?
Our city has several issues that need to be addressed but they are pretty much issues that all communities our size must deal with:
1. New development-- Whether it is commercial or residential, working with our zoning and comprehensive plan to create thoughtful development that benefits our citizens and the future of our city.
2. Keeping property taxes low-- Working with our department heads at budget time to put forth a balanced budget and hopefully a levy neutral budget that still allows us to accomplish what we need to for our citizens while keeping their property taxes low.
3. Continuing to provide great services-- Working within our budget and with our department heads to continue to consistently provide great services to citizens including the safety of our community.
4. Condition of our roads and streets-- Working to balance the need to address road and streets issues with a budget and monies that will allow us to fund them in a thoughtful and scheduled way.
If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?
If I received a $1 million grant that could indeed be used in any way for the city, I think that I would use it to reduce the debt that we have on the new Public Safety Building. This would reduce the debt levy for our citizens putting money back into their pockets.
What neighborhood do you live in? Why? Where are your favorite places to spend time in our town?
I live in the Greenland Park neighborhood of Oconomowoc and we are blessed to be able to live on Fowler Lake. I love this neighborhood because it truly has a small town feel to it. Gosh, there are SO many wonderful places in our community to spend time but some of my favorites are: walking or jogging around Fowler Lake, taking my grandkids to some of our amazing parks, attending our fabulous events on the Village Green, hanging out on the boardwalk, really all of the restaurants and shops in the downtown area, bike riding on our trails, my church (St. Matthew's) and I can't forget City Hall!
What’s more important for our city right now: building new homes and commercial space or rehabbing/expanding/better utilizing our existing homes and storefronts?
I think that these two are equally important. We need to continue to attract careful development both commercial and residential but I am and always have been concerned about the condition of some of our downtown neighborhoods and also some of our storefronts. I think we are doing a good job of addressing both of those areas as best we can in working with property owners and we need to continue to do so so that there is not a greater disparity amongst properties.
What do you believe are the three (3) greatest strengths of the City of Oconomowoc?
We have many great strengths but I believe these are key:
1. The vibrant downtown area that hosts many wonderful events that draw so many outsiders to benefit our establishments.
2. Our natural resources-- lakes, trails, parks, etc.
3. A strong city government (mayor, department heads, staff, and city council) that operates in the best interest of the citizens.
Please list below three (3) words you believe other members would use to describe you, your participation, or your leadership style.
I believe (and hope!) that other members of the council would describe me as: genuine, informed, and forward-thinking.
What is the best way to address differences of opinion among the council members?
The best way to address differences of opinion among council members is with transparency and respect. We will not all agree all of the time. When we don't, it is imperative that we value others' opinions, listen to their thoughts, and then vote in an informed way that best suits our citizens.
How will you communicate with and be accessible to the community you represent?
I like to communicate with my constituents via my city e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), my alderman Facebook page (Karen Spiegelberg or @KarenForAlderman), over the phone (262.354.8161), in person, through the occasional mailing, and I also enjoy popping handwritten notes in the snail mail! I love communicating with the great people of Oconomowoc and I encourage them to reach out to me at any time with any issue.