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3 newcomers win

April 1, 2014

Menomonee Falls — Three seats on the Village Board will soon be occupied by new trustees thanks to a voter turnout of about 16 percent on April 1.

Katie Kress will assume Seat No. 1, Chris Smolik Seat No. 2, and Joseph Helm Seat No. 3. There were no incumbents in the races for Seat No. 1 and Seat No. 2, due to the retirement of Sharon Ellis and death of Jim Jeskewitz, respectively.

The vote totals, according to unofficial results Tuesday:

SEAT NO. 1

Katie Kress 2042

Michael McDonald 1079

Chris Rolenc 538

SEAT NO. 2

Chris Smolik 2032

Timothy Newman 1258

Kevel Anderson 303

Both Kress and Smolik were first-time candidates endorsed by the Menomonee Falls Taxpayer Association, a group that has said it "was formed to recruit and support local conservative candidates for local office."

Katie Kress

While campaigning, Kress pointed to the controversy over the Radisson Hotel development, where the village made a construction loan to a developer that was followed by a foreclosure suit, as an example of something she would like to avoid in the future.

"We really need to look at the benefits of what is coming into the village and use common sense," she said. "I don't feel like government has a place in the private sector at all. I think the role needs to be smaller."

Katie Kress, 36, is software quality analysis lead at Corvisa Services. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and has a bachelor's degree in business management from University of Phoenix. She is married.

In addition to the voters, as well as family and friends, Kress wanted to thank Rolenc and McDonald for their service to the village.

The loss admittedly came as a shock to McDonald, who was seeking to return to the seat he previously held for 23 years. He and another long-time trustee, Jeff Steliga were unseated last year by supporters of the association.

"It's the beginning of the end," he said. "It took us forever to get the kind of momentum going forward and I'm proud of what we have established here, but it's only taken minutes for it to go away."

Meanwhile, Rolenc took the loss in stride, as he looks forward to continuing to serve on the Plan Commission and Architectural Control Board.

"I think the village is doing a pretty good job," he said. "I wasn't going in with an agenda to completely change anything. I think there just needs to be a balance of what the residents want and what is best for the business and industry in the village. We want to make the village an inviting place for everybody."

Chris Smolik

While campaigning, Smolik also pointed to the hotel agreement as an example of bad decisions made with taxpayer dollars.

"Due diligence being exercised in all these matters is extremely important," he said. "We are dealing with people's money and their livelihood and we need to exercise fiduciary responsibility and proper care. I think this has been overlooked in the past."

Chris Smolik, 52, is a systems and financial analyst for KHS USA. He earned a bachelor's in accounting from UW-Milwaukee. He is married, with two children.

Newman, also a first-time candidate, was openly against the endorsements of the association, saying a local election shouldn't be about these kinds of affiliations.

"You're not hearing what a person believes, but what an organization believes," he said.

Anderson, who focused his campaign on growing the village with family-friendly businesses, finding ways to reduce taxes, and making educated decisions about proposed projects, enjoyed his first run for office.

"I just want to reach out to the other candidates and thank them for a great race," he said. "It has been nice to see the community be engaged and consider having some new fresh faces on the board to lead the village."

Helm was unopposed for Seat No. 3, currently held by Dennis Farrell.

Trustees are elected to three-year terms and are paid $5,500 annually.

Election results remain unofficial until they are certified by the board of canvassers.

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