On Wednesday February 23rd the District Mayoral and Alderperson candidate forum was held at the Warner Park community centre. The Forum was organized by the Northside Planning Council and occurs once every two years.
“Threefold, during my 15 years at the Capitol times I became very skilled at looking at key issues and quickly analyzing them” explained former capitol times journalist and alderperson nominee Anita Weier. Per Heng was another district 18 nominee who spoke during the event. The third nominee, Steven Coleman, didn’t attend.
The nominees responded to questions given in advance as well as to spontaneous questions given by the audience. The forum occurs once every two years, and is organised in association with the Northside Planning Council, a group of local residents.
Issues discussed during the conference included water quality improvement, supporting small business, as well as neighbourhood safety and youth issues.
“We’ve all noticed that businesses are closing on the Northside” explained Mr Heng.
The local economy was a topic of concern. Improving business in the area around Dane County Airport was one common proposal by both candidates.
“We currently have had some areas of the Northside identified as areas to encourage small business development” explains Vice-Chair on the board of the Northside Planning Council Terry Anderson. Mrs Anderson attests to the longterm efforts of the Northside Planning Council in improving the local economy
“We supported the city’s planning process in developing the Northside Neighborhood Plan and seeing those goals become realities is a big part of our agenda”
An innovation kitchen is being developed by the NPC through a $45 000 grant which it received from the State of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The kitchen would allow the packaging and selling of imperfect or unsold farmer’s produce.
The relationship between crime and economic development, was also proposed by Alderperson representatives during the night. Efforts in improving local business were seen to help reduce crime.
“We can’t be so reliant on UW Madison because the economy tightens up”, explained Pen Her, with alder representative Anita Weier also mentioning ‘economic issues’. Improving the business opportunities around the Airport district featured strongly in the proposals of both representatives, especially in Mrs Weiers.
“I have a great working relationship with police officers- investing in the front end with youth keeping them out of trouble” explained Mr Heng. A police presence in the business and church lots on and around Northport Drive is noticeable. Robberies are not unheard of, and the Northport Apartment building is one paricularly problematic area, according to neighbours and residents.
“We’re nothing like the apartments next door” explained East Bluff Condominium Association President, Fernando Cano.
As to how effective the alderpeople will be in addressing problems in the Northside, Northport Planning Council representative Terrie Anderson explains, “yeah, I feel like they have a pretty good handle on local issues”