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Public to weigh in on city's leader in primary election

Jan. 30, 2008

Mayoral candidates James Czerwinski and David Sopolinski will face incumbent Al Richards in the primary election Feb. 19.

The annual salary for the part-time position is $8,174.66. The mayor serves a four-year term.

The top two vote-getters will advance to the April 1 election.

James Czerwinski

Czerwinski said he is running to make a positive change in the city and make it more aesthetically pleasing.

The fiscally conservative businessman said he wants to see a reduction in the number of used car lots, the replacement of single lights along city roads, and more green space and trees on Kinnickinnic Avenue. He also wants to plant flowers around the city each year to correspond with an annual/perennial sale to raise funds for Willow Glen Elementary School.

If elected, the 45-year-old plans to hold monthly question-and-answer sessions to inform residents of proposed ideas and developments and improve communication between the city and School Board. He said he will not support any tax-increase proposals.

For about five to seven years, Czerwinski worked for the Community Housing Initiative, where he served as a housing manager and the interim executive director. Today he owns R.J. Builders.

He has a bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a master's degree in business administration/finance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Al Richards

Richards has served as mayor since 2004. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the St. Francis Lions Club, the St. Francis Days Committee and the Association of Commerce.

He also has been a member of the St. Francis Fourth of July Commission, the Planning Commission, the St. Francis Jaycees, the Community Development Authority and the Unity Evangelical Lutheran Church Council. He served as chairman of the St. Francis 50th anniversary committee and vice-chairman of the Veterans Memorial Committee.

He was chosen Citizen of the Year in 1991.

The 65-year-old said he is in the race to continue implementing developments outlined in the city's smart growth plan.

"The blueprint is put together," he said. "Now, it's just a matter of finishing it."

From 1966 to 1968, Richards served in the U.S. Army.

He is retired from Allen-Bradley, and is now the president and chief executive officer of an information technology consulting company, Engelsberg-Strem.

He received bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration from UW-Milwaukee.

David Sopolinski

Sopolinski has served as alderman for more than 25 years and as Common Council president for about 12 years. The 62-year-old also has been chairman of the bargaining, finance and licensing committees. He said he is proud of his attendance record at city meetings, which he says is 99 percent.

"It's important as a representative of the city to serve the city when needed," he said.

His goals for the city include drafting a well-balanced budget that offers the best services possible.

"I want to promote business and industry, but not at the cost of the environment," he said.

If elected, Sopolinski said he wants to see construction "stay on track."

He said condo developments are something that had to be done to lower the city's tax base.

"It helped more than hurt the city," he said.

Sopolinski is an operations and dispatch supervisor for Baldwin Transfer Company in Wauwatosa. He has been in the transportation service for 40 years.

Sopolinski has a diploma from Bay View High School.

Chantel Balzell can be reached at (262) 446-6602.

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