Special Election in Third District Sets Penny Podell Against Five Challengers

by Vince Bushell County Supervisor Penny Podell is on the campaign trail again. The recall momentum following the resignation of County Executive Tom Ament was enough to engulf a number of incumbents. After first challenging the recall because the signatures included a number of out-of-district voters, Podell has decided to put her political future in the hands of her constituents, residents of the 3rd District. The County’s 3rd Supervisory District is mostly east of the Milwaukee River, including parts of Shorewood, Milwaukee’s East Side, parts of the Lower East Side, and sections of Riverwest. The narrow time frame of this type of special election does not allow a monthly like the Riverwest Currents to get position statements from all the candidates and meet our publication deadline. Mark Goff (Milwaukee), who unsuccessfully ran against Podell in 2000, will be on the ballot along with Gerry Broderick (Milwaukee), Joyce Campana (Milwaukee), James H. Larson (Milwaukee), and Michael Seidman (Shorewood). If none of the candidates receives a majority of the votes cast on June 18, there will be a general election between the two finalists. This paper will cover both finalists’ positions in our July issue should that election be necessary. What follows is Supervisor Podell’s positions on three key issues: The Pension “Back Drops” Supervisor Podell states: “It is obvious that I made a decision based on incorrect information. I regret voting for this plan.” The intent was to reduce the tax levy by offering a lower wage package (tax funded) with an enhanced pension plan (investment funded). When it was clear to Podell that County Executive Tom Ament knew about the “back drop” windfall and did not inform the board of this fact, she “asked Ament to resign and I signed a letter with other Board members” requesting his resignation. Milwaukee County Parks: River Lands and Lake Park Podell has strongly supported the efforts to preserve and improve the Milwaukee River Valley and adjacent park lands. She has worked with neighborhood groups to establish a bike trail in Riverwest between Gordon Park and North Avenue. She has sponsored County Board resolutions for the repair and construction of bike trails in Estabrook Park, and she also worked to have Cambridge Woods designated as a conservancy Lake Park now has a private restaurant in the pavilion. This has raised objections that County property is being privatized. Podell’s position is that this was the “best we could do under the circumstances.” She states the Parks Department refused to invest in the rehabilitation of the building, which was deteriorating. “We were going to lose the building,” she says, and the restaurant was willing to invest in the infrastructure in exchange for a 10-year, renewable lease. Podell says the ideal solution would be to have a vendor that provided food service and greater access than the high end restaurant that is there now does. This was not happening and the decision was made to go with the developer to assure the building’s preservation. Park Funding / Separate Park Board The Park People, a non-governmental public group that supports Park issues, is campaigning for an independent elected Park Board. Podell’s stand on this issue is to proceed with caution. Her view holds Park funding as the primary concern. “Park funding is discretionary and competing with mandated services. Before we consider a separate Park District we must have an alternative dedicated source of funding,” Podell said.
by Vince Bushell