Thursday, April 17, 2008

Nelson's stump speech

Tuesday night's "State of the city" speech by Mayor Larry Nelson was the dress rehearsal for his re-election campaign speech. In this week's column for the Waukesha Freeman, I looked at what he hopes to pin his re-election chances on and what may interfere with those plans.

Unmentioned in Nelson’s speech is the growing frustration of city residents with crime. While I would maintain that there is not a part of the city where I would fear driving at 2 a.m. while waving a wad of twenties out the window, the public has a perception that crime is growing. The mayor’s dislike for The Freeman’s Sound Off section will grow with the crime rate.

Strangely, also unmentioned in the mayor’s speech was the hiring of a new city administrator, Lori Luther. In a speech 16 double-spaced pages long with such details as the types of buildings used by the fire department for training, the omission of the hiring of a new city administrator really stuck out.

In the short time she’s been here Luther has managed to stir up some controversy. She was criticized for appearing at the Barack Obama event and for the story she gave afterward. She was recently blamed by the mayor for suggesting he go to the Waukesha Water Commission to try to restore funding for some of his travel and memberships budget.

So while Nelson sees his reputation resting with the city’s redevelopment, he will be judged on other factors. Taxes, crime, his city administrator, his continued partisanship on behalf of Democrats, all will play a role when Nelson faces the voters two years from now. At the same time, two years from now we’ll know what the actual "state of the city" was back in 2008.