What are the biggest challenges facing the Village and what changes would you attempt to address them?
Eric Couto - The biggest challenges facing Shorewood are aging infrastructure, housing affordability, environmental sustainability and transparency. Aging infrastructure will continue to be an issue for years to come. We are working our way through general maintenance issues but will soon need to face the very daunting task of addressing our lead laterals. Those issues coupled with our antiquated Department of Public Works yard will force difficult budget decisions in the not-too-distant future.
Housing affordability also continues to be a very serious concern in Shorewood. Seniors, young families, young professionals and others are finding it increasingly difficult to buy, rent or live in Shorewood given the annual increase in taxes, rent or home prices.
The village board continues to do a good job balancing services and fees but we need to find additional efficiencies moving forward. We also need to develop and implement a cohesive plan to effectively spend down the two million plus dollars set aside for affordable housing. To date that has not happened.
Environmental sustainability is not just a Shorewood problem but a problem for everyone. We have done a good job cutting red tape to increase solar power in residential homes, but I would like to work on green municipal buildings, hybrid or electric fleets and increased access to green space.
Finally, I would like to address head-on Shorewood’s government transparency issues. There are too many issues that come before commission, committees and the board that are fast tracked with little to no community involvement or notice. That needs to stop. Cutting off public comments, limiting debate and stifling community engagement are not hallmarks of good government and I will do everything in my power to end those practices if elected.
Jerry Lynn - The Village’s lack of diversity and how that ties into the broader issues of racial justice and affordable housing is on the forefront of my mind and will be central to how I make decisions on the board. We did the right thing in setting aside that $2.5 million dollars to be used for affordable housing and I will promise to collaborate with the County’s Office of African American Affairs as well as other partners around the Village and community to ensure that it used in a way that is meaningful and impactful.
Noah Wolfe – The biggest challenges facing the Village are housing affordability and police equity. Shorewood needs to address housing affordability and ensure that all new housing built is accessible housing for various income levels, going above minimum requirements for affordability and inclusivity.
In addition, the equity work occurring with the Shorewood Police Department is a good start but must continue. I would like to see larger steps being taken and real change occurring within the Village and the Police Department based on the Village of Shorewood Police Organization Study that occurred in addition to collaboration with community members and experts. I would also like to see more public input on the department's spending and priorities.
How would you specifically try to improve transparency on issues important to the village?
Eric Couto - We need to do a better job of proactively informing village residents of agenda items coming before the board, commissions and committees. Getting a 300+ page agenda on a Friday before a holiday weekend with a vote on Tuesday does not make for open government. No one outside of a select few are served by jamming through legislation at the last minute. We need to do better.
Jerry Lynn - I believe that constructive community engagement is key to resolving issues around the Village. I believe that we have the structures in place to handle tough issues, specifically by leveraging our citizen led committees. The committees offer a useful legislative tool to help filter complex problems before the land on the desk of the board and ensure that we are making collaborative decisions.
Noah Wolfe – As a public school teacher, collaboration is one of my strongest characteristics. Any issue that gets a vote on the Village Board should be open to collaboration and discussion from all Village members, including students and members of our Village who may not be able to currently vote.
Although there have been recent improvements, Shorewood has room to grow in terms of sharing information regarding Village Board discussions and decisions through social media and other platforms. I am open to any collaboration and communication with Village residents and if elected intend to share frequent updates via social media or in-person conversations regarding issues important to Shorewood residents.
How do we find a balance between development that promotes density and the issues around traffic and parking?
Eric Couto - With all due respect I disagree with the question. I do not believe Shorewood requires additional density. What we need is greater housing affordability, greater access to public transportation and more off-street parking tied to re/development. Unfortunately, in contrast to our Comprehensive Plan the village recently okayed two large scale luxury condominium developments with no affordable housing and insufficient off-street parking. I do not believe those developments align with our mission to make Shorewood a more diverse, inclusive community.
Jerry Lynn - One of the best parts of Shorewood is our walkability and I think that we need to work to expand that in every way possible. The zoning reform that we are undergoing will assist in that process. I also believe that we need more dedicated Disabled Parking spaces in the Village. We need to prioritize parking access for those who need it and make sure that our business district is accessible to all.
Noah Wolfe – Shorewood is one of the most dense areas to live in Wisconsin. Shorewood’s density and walkability are what make this Village so appealing and positive to live in for many of our residents. Shorewood must remain committed to developing and maintaining eco-friendly modes of transportation such as pedestrian infrastructure, bicycle infrastructure and public transportation, which could help contribute to less parking traffic. New infrastructure in Shorewood must consider the current parking needs in its intended area and be thoughtful and considerate about neighbors' concerns about the current parking density needs and setbacks.
How would you rate the Village’s efforts in sustainability? What can we do better?
Eric Couto - I think the village continues to do a good job when it comes to sustainability. I would like to see additional efforts made towards green municipal buildings, a hybrid or electric fleet, lead free laterals, village wide composting, residential and commercial solar energy and ban single use plastics. Shorewood has led the way in a number of areas and continues to have great community involvement when it comes to sustainability issues. I am willing to lead on a number of environmental issues and would gladly welcome resident expertise as a guide in those efforts.
Jerry Lynn - Comparatively, the Village does a good job with sustainability, but needs to keep pressing to tackle climate change. We have an obligation to do as much as we can to change course and I will use my position on the Board to support sustainable development and leverage the community to take further actions independently to tackle climate change.
One area that we could explore is the planting of more native tress and carbon capturing plants in our neighborhood. For example, most of the native Sugar Maple trees were replaced with the non-native, invasive, Norway Maples in the mid-20th Century due to their hardiness in withstanding acid rain. This is significantly less of a problem and we could pursue planting Sugar Maples along with a broader policy that supports more native tree growth in our yards and parks.
Noah Wolfe – I believe Shorewood is making strong efforts towards our sustainability. I would like to see specifically more environmental sustainability work taking place throughout the Village such as offering a free at-home composting service, considering alternatives to traditional rock salt due to our proximity to the lake, building protected bike lanes in street developments to promote more sustainable modes of transportation, and have the Shorewood Police Department consider transitioning to electric vehicles.
What experience do you have that makes you a good fit for this office?
Eric Couto - I am proud to have served on the Shorewood Plan Commission for the last six years. As a Shorewood resident for nearly all of my life I know just how special this community is, that's why my wife and I are raising our two daughters here and why Shorewood will always be home. In addition to my years of community involvement I also served on the Wilson Drive Task Force. A community wide discussion and engagement process that led to Wilson Drive’s beautiful redevelopment. I have also been fortunate enough to coach youth sports right here in Shorewood for both of my girls. Professionally, I've worked with hundreds of progressive officials all across Wisconsin over my 20+ year career. I see every day how critical local leadership is and would be honored to serve the Village as a Trustee.
Jerry Lynn - Prior to the pandemic, I served as the Co-Chair for the Pedestrian and Bike Safety Committee, where I had the opportunity to collaborate with every group in Village Hall to accomplish some big projects.
For example, prior to repaving Lake Drive in 2019, we took the opportunity to reduce the traffic lanes from 4 to 2. We commissioned a traffic study, held public forums to gather community input and support, received approval from the state DOT, and worked with the Village Planner and DPW to get the job done.
In my personal time, I have volunteered for Democratic candidates from Mary Burke to Mandela Barnes and in 2020 worked for Sarah Godlewski’s Retirement Task Force to help craft the 401(k)s bill that is on the floor of the legislature right now.
I also spent the last 10 years working in Corporate Finance administering large market 401k plans but recently left the corporate world to become a High School Social Studies Teacher. I am currently enrolled at UWM pursuing a Master’s in Education and Student Teaching in MPS. Lastly, I have l lived here for the past decade, and I am currently raising three daughters here so I want to help build a better future for them and their generation.
Noah Wolfe – One of the largest projected population growths in Shorewood over the next few years is young adults, between the ages of 20-34. As we see Shorewood becoming a more renter-friendly village, with over 50% of our residents as renters, it is time that the Village Board has representation from that same age range.
I am a public school teacher and I work every day to help young people learn the skills to advocate for their needs and feel empowered to speak up. Young people and young adults living in Shorewood should know they are represented by our Village Board and I hope to be that advocate. My leadership experience in working with others and ability to seek input from all will help me in this role.