Kewaunee Mayoral Race
A third candidate for Kewaunee mayor, John Griffith, declined the opportunity to fill out a candidate questionnaire.
JOHN BLAHA (i)
Number of years you have resided in Kewaunee: 31 years
Education: 8 years grade school,4 years high school, 1 year teacher’s college
Professional experience: 20 years on city council including past personnel chairman, council president, mayor since 2007, owner operator of Blaha Body Shop in Kewaunee since 1977
Family: Two brothers James and Jeff, married to my wife Mary for 29 years, mother currently living in an assisted living complex in Algoma, father deceased
Other elected office positions: Past City Council Personnel Chairman, Past Council President, Currently Mayor since 2007
Past and present community or volunteer positions: Current member of Kewaunee Chamber of Commerce and past chamber board of director, member of Kewaunee Rotary.
What do you think are the two most important issues affecting the community:
The most important issue facing our community right now is finding a developer for the old Hamachek Property. This property was purchased by the City in 2014 for 210,000 and will very shortly see a reconstruction of its seawall, along with a new boardwalk and renovation of the lighthouse. It is very important that the city get this property back on the tax role as soon as possible. While the budget and Marquette School are also important issues, I believe what is more important is our aging infrastructure. The reconstruction of both First Street and Harrison Street were a huge lift for the community, but we still have other streets that need to be repaired. This will be a challenge and what separates this issue from the others is that as of right now there are very few if any grants available for street projects.
How would you bring your education and experience to address these issues:
My education and experience in business are a big factor in helping me with this job. Not only have I served as Mayor for the past nine years but I have also served on almost every single committee. As chairman of the Personnel Committee, I helped negotiate city contracts. I have had conversations with the governor about our community, including the governor’s staff, as well as those who represent us on the state and federal level. As far as the candidates go, there is no one more qualified to run for this office. My experience in municipal government and my leadership skills far outweigh any of those currently running. Through the past nine years I have proved that I can clearly take on the responsibilities of the Mayor’s office.
List other information that you think the public should know about you that prepares you to take on the responsibilities of this office:
I have always dedicated myself to the community. I am always in the city so I am available to answer questions at any time. Many times people phone me during the day or stop in to talk with me.
Number of years you have resided in the municipality for which you are seeking office: Lifelong resident
Education: Degree in Leadership Development and I will have another degree in Human Resources this year.
Professional experience: My professional experience includes working in the insurance industry, health care administration, human resources, performance improvement, training and currently as a grant writer.
Family: My husband is David Christman. We both have strong family roots in this community.We are blessed with two sons, Jared and Craig. Jared obtained his degree in journalism and is currently continuing his education in computer coding. Craig will graduate this year with a double major in accounting and business management. He will then purse his CPA certification. We also have a grandson, Blake. He is two years old and the love of my life.
Other elected office positions: Alderperson for the city of Kewaunee representing District 4; Chairperson of the City of Kewaunee Finance Committee.
Past and present community or volunteer positions: Current Scholarship Chairperson, Webpage & Face book Administrator for the Kewaunee County Garden Club
Past: VP and Secretary Kewaunee Athletic Booster Club; Co-Chairperson Firecracker 5K Run/Walk; Co-Chairperson Every 15-Minutes Drunk Driving Program; Chairperson Name the Kewaunee School District New Mascot; Member of the Kewaunee High School PTO; Member of the Kewaunee PR Committee; Member of the Kewaunee County Decommissioning Task Force; Board Member Kewaunee Chamber of Commerce; President Kewaunee Jaycees; President Immanuel Lutheran School Association,
What do you think are the two most important issues affecting the community for which you are seeking office?
Improving communication with Kewaunee residents and encouraging collaboration. We need to ensure our city residents are informed and involved in shaping our community. Civic engagement is also needed in order to set direction for our community. We need our residents to be involved by pursuing positions on the City Council, attending council meetings, providing ideas for growth and development and getting involved in community projects. With tight budgets and scarce resources, collaboration is essential for the City. We need to improve collaboration with other units of government in the county and community organizations to reduce operational costs.
The second important issue affecting the community is maintaining our current infrastructure, such as streets, sidewalks, sewer, city vehicles, controlling rising health insurance costs, and operating the city within budget.
How would you bring your education and experience to address these issues?
I have led many projects in my work and volunteer roles. Leadership which involves creating a vision, emulating passion, possessing integrity, and respect to all team members. I want to guide our city into an era where government is accountable to its’ residents and we collaborate and use all available resources to improve and develop our community. Our greatest resource are the residents of Kewaunee. I will work with organizations and businesses within the community, as well as with county, state and federal resources, to create opportunities and growth for our city.
My experience in performance improvement and grant writing can prove cost savings to the City. I would like to create an effective asset management plan so we understand what are infrastructure assets are, their value, future value and cost associated with maintaining them. An asset management plan will identify improvements needed to ensure reliability and operating efficiency.
List other information that you think the public should know about you that prepares you to take on the responsibilities of this office?
I am running for mayor because I love Kewaunee and was asked to run by many City residents. I have a deep passion for being involved in my community. Throughout my life, I have volunteered for many charitable, civic, and religious organizations within the community. And now, after several years on the City Council, I want to take my involvement to the next level. I believe my goals for Kewaunee are the same as many other community members’, which is to make Kewaunee a great place to live, work and raise a family.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Kewaunee Mayoral Race