35 MEMBERS, ONE LAST TIME - COUNTY BOARD REDUCTION, ELECTION BRING END TO OLD WAYS

Joe Petrie
April 7, 2008


WAUKESHA - After recent redistricting, resignations and elections, the Waukesha County Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday for the final time in its 35-member format, following through on a move two years ago to cut its membership. 

The process of reducing the size of the board has meant the whittling of some of the more outspoken supervisors from the group, which has had 19 supervisors come and go since the April 2006 election. The meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday in room 170 of the Waukesha County Courthouse, 515 W. Moreland Blvd. 

Even though many outgoing and returning supervisors still favor the downsizing, it's still a bittersweet moment for many of them because it'll be hard to see a lot of people go. 

"I've been on the board for a long time, and it's going to be hard to leave," said Supervisor Sandra Wolff of Brookfield, who's stepping down from the board. 

"There are such wonderful people on the board and the people who work there are wonderful, and I'm going to miss the interaction and it's going to be hard." 

Wolff said she's sad to see the board shrink because with 35 members it was more of a grassroots effort with incredibly diverse opinions. She said the diversity should remain on the new board, though it won't be quite as rich. 

Besides Wolff, the new board will lose incumbent supervisors Ken Herro of Oconomowoc, Robert Thelen II of Oconomowoc, Joe Marchese of Sussex, Rick Stevens of Hartland, William Mitchell of Waukesha, Genia Bruce of Waukesha, Joe Vitale of Waukesha, Thomas Bullermann of New Berlin, Karl Nilson of New Berlin, Keith Hammitt of Muskego and Rodell Singert of Mukwonago. 

Herro, Singert and Marchese were known for their frank opinions and the manner in which they delivered them on the board floor. It sometimes angered their peers and was other times entertaining, and they said the debates and interaction are things they'll miss with the board reduction. 

"I don't think everyone got along with Rodell (Singert), but he studied a lot more than people gave him credit for and looked at issues critically," said Supervisor Jim Behrend of Delafield. "Ken Herro had a great personality on the floor and with Joe (Marchese) leaving, it's kind of like a passing for me. I mean I used to go to (Marchese's) bar back in the '70s and I remember him from all the way back then." 

Behrend said it will be interesting to see who might take the place of those supervisors on the smaller board. 

Supervisor Steve Wimmer of Waukesha said that even though some of the supervisors didn't always agree, there were still connections made as they served together. But after the gavel drops on the last 35-member board in the last meeting of the 162nd board year, Wimmer and others said business will move on despite the sadness of losing some colleagues. 

"I think we're still fairly diverse with a mix of people who are retired and those working full-time jobs," Wimmer said. "You lose a little bit and there's a little more work for people, but we'll still be able to do our job." 

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