NAIOP-WI Election Update: 2012 Recall Elections
|Tom Larson, NAIOP WI Lobbyist|
By Tom Larson, Lobbyist for NAIOP-WI
Although November 6, 2012 is over six months away, election season has officially begun in Wisconsin due to the upcoming recall elections this spring.
Governor Scott Walker, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican Senators are being recalled this Spring because of their support for the changes to the collective bargaining laws in Wisconsin. The primary election will be held on May 8, 2012, while the general election will be held on June 5, 2012.
Overview of Recall Elections
In the high-profile effort to recall Governor Scott Walker, the Democratic challengers include Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, State Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D – Alma), and Secretary of State Doug LaFollette. Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch will likely face Mahlon Mitchell, former President of the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin.
In the four Senate recall elections, Senator Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R – Juneau) will likely face political newcomer and recall organizer Lori Compas. Senator Terry Moulton (R – Chippewa Falls) will likely face Kristin Dexter, a former Democratic state Representative from Eau Claire who was defeated in the 2010 election. Senator Van Wanggaard (R – Racine) will likely face John Lehmann, a former Democratic state Senator from Racine who was defeated by Senator Wangaard in 2010. The fourth Republican senator facing recall was Pam Galloway, but she resigned from office on March 16, 2012, citing a family health situation. As a result, this is now an open Senate seat and will be filled by one of two current state representatives (Rep. Jerry Petrowski (R – Marathon) or Rep. Donna Seidel (D – Wausau)) who will be squaring off against each other on June 5th.
How the Senate Recall Elections Impact NAIOP-WI
While the significance of Governor Walker’s recall is clear, the Senate recall elections are also of great importance to NAIOP-WI. Because of Senator Galloway’s early retirement, the Senate is now comprised of 16 Republicans and 16 Democrats, without either party having majority control over the house. As a result, if the Democrats win one of the Senate recall elections, they will be in control of the State Senate, at least until the elections in November.
While controlling one house will not give Democrats the ability to pass new legislation into law or repeal existing laws, it will allow them to stop any Republican-backed initiatives that they do not support. Issues like wetland regulatory reform, tax reform measures, repeal of prevailing law changes, or other regulatory reform measures would likely have not become law if Democrats controlled the Senate.
Voting Record on NAIOP-WI’s Issues
While Governor Walker’s support for issues important to NAIOP-WI is more widely known by NAIOP-WI members and is evidenced by the fact that he signed into law all of our top legislative priorities that came to his desk, the three Republican Senators facing recall elections have equally impressive voting records on NAIOP-WI’s legislative priorities. Each of the Senators had a 100% voting record on our top legislative priorities, which were highlighted in the March 15 Legislative Update. As to the two candidates vying for the seat vacated by Senator Pam Galloway, Rep. Jerry Petrowski’s voting record in 100%, while Rep. Donna Seidel’s voting record in 50%.
State Agencies Seek Input From NAIOP-WI For New Ideas to Promote Economic Development
In preparation for the 2013-14 Wisconsin State Budget, state agencies are meeting with various stakeholders and interest groups to gather a list of ideas to create greater efficiencies, improve customer service and further stimulate job growth and economic development. NAIOP-WI was asked to provide suggestions to a number of state agencies, including the newly formed Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
During a meeting with several organizations representing the economic development community, NAIOP-WI provided a number of suggestions in the areas of continued regulatory reform, greater collaboration with the commercial real estate industry, and more coordination with regional and local economic development authorities.
Further discussions between NAIOP-WI representatives and state agency officials will occur throughout the upcoming months. To have a better understanding of what is needs to happen to improve the Wisconsin’s economic development climate, we will continue to emphasize the importance of obtaining input from economic development experts from the private sector. If you have suggestions, please share send them to Tom Larson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Speaker Summary-Mark Fitzgerald, City Administrator, Menomonee Falls
The NAIOP Public Affairs Committee met with Mark Fitzgerald, the Menomonee Falls Village Manager, on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, to discuss economic development in Menomonee Falls. To answer your first question – No, he did not provide any new information about the Kohl’s corporate headquarters. Mark did, however, give some insight into why Menomonee Falls is considered to be a developer-friendly community.
Menomonee Falls finds itself in the rather unique position of having more jobs than residents. This shapes the Village’s stance towards economic development. In a time when most communities are seeking new sources of jobs, Menomonee Falls focuses primarily on working with its current employers to assist them to expand. This has resulted in Menomonee Falls having the third largest manufacturing tax base of any municipality in the State and being the home to such household names as Kohl’s, Eaton, Froedtert, Harley Davidson and Alto-Shaam, as well as some of Wisconsin’s other large manufacturers. The Village has accomplished this feat by being open to creative ways to structure developments including, the extensive use of tax increment financing, the issuance of industrial revenue bonds, providing direct financing and using a host of other financing options. One Menomonee Falls employer thought so much of the Village’s approach towards development that it asked the Village to administer its industrial revenue bonds in connection with a development in a neighboring community, which the Village agreed to do.
The Village is currently working on a number of redevelopment projects. While the most public project is probably the Village’s efforts to position itself to retain the Kohl’s headquarters, the Village is also working to redevelop one of its few blighted industrial areas. When the redevelopment of this blighted area was first proposed, redevelopment costs were estimated at almost $600,000 per acre. The Village recognized that no private developer would be willing to incur this expense and undertook its own redevelopment of the site. Mark was pleased to tell us that the Village will be announcing the first two users for this site in the near future.
Although the Village is not actively seeking new employers, Mark indicated that he is always willing to meet with developers and land users to discuss how the Village can assist with projects in Menomonee Falls. If you have a potential project in Menomonee Falls, please contact him at 262-532-4200.
~Rob Habich, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren