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Trustee challenger touts business acumen

Candidates list finances as first concern for village

March 1, 2011

River Hills — Challenger Willard "Bill" Walker believes he has the background to help guide the village in what many believe will be fiscally challenging days ahead. Walker and incumbent trustees Larry Boyer and Elizabeth "Wendy" Walcott are seeking election to two seats on the Village Board on April 5.

"Over the years the Village Board has done a good job but I am concerned about the future, escalating costs, a reduction in state aid," he said. "Tough days lie ahead."

Tough times prompted run

Walker, the president and CEO of Walker Forge, believes he has the skills developed over 20 years of working in the family business to help address budget issues.

"I have different skills than the other candidates in the race," he said. "If we were in sunnier economic times, I don't know if I would be motivated to run."

He would look at the budget, line by line, and generate ideas on how to do things in a better, cost-efficient way.

He is willing to look into high-efficiency lighting, powering municipal vehicles with natural gas - any innovative idea to control costs.

Boyer and Walcott, who are each finishing their first three-year terms on the board, share Walker's concern about finances. Having helped develop the budget in each of the last three years, they say the board will have to make some tough decisions.

"Clearly we are going to have less state aid," Walcott said. "Many of the things we have to spend on are dictated by the state or feds. We don't have a lot of wiggle room in River Hills but we have the best services, snow plowing, garbage collection, work along the roadsides."

What can people live with?

Consolidation of other services could be an answer although Boyer and Walcott would want to hear from residents before making a decision on that.

"We have consolidated a number of services," Boyer said. "The question will come down to the level of services that people want to have."

The board did not raise the tax levy in the 2011 budget because of savings earned from a refinancing. That won't always be possible, Boyer said.

Because the zoning in River Hills is residential, there are no businesses to help underwrite the costs of providing village services.

"A small village with a few residents is a very expensive population," Walcott said. "I hope the residents will get involved in the decisions."

Both Walcott and Boyer believe they have made contributions during their tenure.

"It may sound like a small thing but getting that stop sign at Green Tree and Nicolet roads was something that people had asked for for many years," she said "I honestly believe it took the controversy over Green Tree Road to get that."

Both incumbents say they have been responsive to residents.

"By responding to residents on Green Tree and those whose basements flooded, as Larry and I have done, people feel they are being heard," Walcott said.

Concerned with environment

She and Boyer are known for their dedication to environmental issues. Walcott wants to work on clean water issues over the coming years, helping to preserve the water table under the village, the source of drinking water for village wells.

Boyer said he has worked to get residents involved in the community and to raise more awareness of environmental issues.

"I feel crummy that I was unable to get the environmental ordinance to protect the Milwaukee River corridor passed but we did get a lot of awareness," he said.

An educational effort launched to advise people about that area was a positive offshoot of the effort, he said.

"People have said they are educated and can do the right thing," he said.

He e-mails about 100 people every month to tell them what is on the Village Board agenda and provides them with information about issues.

"I get the neighbors talking," he said.

Village President Robert Brunner will also be on the ballot, running without opposition for another three-year term.

All serve three-year terms and are not paid.

Larry Boyer (I)

AGE: 60

ADDRESS: 9365 N. Pheasant Lane

EDUCATION: University of Chicago, PhD in geophysical sciences; University of California-Santa Barbara, master's in geology

OCCUPATION: self-employed

FAMILY: married

Elizabeth "Wendy" Walcott (I)

AGE: 70

ADDRESS: 8365 N. Pelican Lane

EDUCATION: Harvard University, bachelor's in liberal arts; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, post graduate work in ecology studies

OCCUPATION: retired land steward at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

FAMILY: married, three grown children

Willard "Bill" Walker

AGE: 48

ADDRESS: 2400 W. Fairy Chasm Road

EDUCATION: Northwestern University, law degree; University of Wisconsin-Madison, bachelor's in economics

OCCUPATION: president and CEO of Walker Forge

FAMILY: married, three sons

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