2022 Whitefish Bay Municipal Responses


  1. What are the biggest challenges facing the Village and what changes would you attempt to address them?

    Jay Balachandran - mproving the amenities on Silver Spring is the #1 issue residents have asked me to work on. It’s been on the wish list for residents for many years, and many administrators have work on this before now. There a number of limitations imposed by the geography of that street- it’s a small commercial strip with limited parking and has retail spaces that often need significant renovation, but Whitefish Bay residents are eager to support new businesses. I plan to support the current initiatives in place by the village board. They have recently engaged with a consulting group to assist in developing a strategy for the strip, and the Community Development Authority in the Village has a robust incentive grant to help businesses offset startup costs. Most importantly, I promise to put my foot down to any more banks on our Silver Spring!

    I think fair housing is going to become a major challenge for our Village. Our median mortgage is over 60% higher than the county or state, and our median rent is over 40% higher than the county or the state. For young families looking to bring their kids to our school district, that is a huge barrier to entry. Figuring out ways to preserve some single-family residences from the trend of house flipping is one way to keep housing cost down. Ultimately, we’re going to have to re-develop some of our existing spaces, and this will take a strong stance by the village to engage with developers who share a vision of affordable multi-family housing. It will also take dialogue with other similar communities that have successfully undertaken similar initiatives.

    Anna Kasper - I’ve found from personal experience and from chatting with residents, that the biggest challenge facing the Village is the Silver Spring shopping and dining district. Residents want more restaurants and “no more banks”. I plan on handling this in a variety of ways and have actually already started. My plan is total cooperation with The Whitefish Bay Business Improvement District, The Community Development Authority, and communication with shop owners and landlords. There are grants out there that small business owners need to be aware of. We need to attract and retain new businesses. We need to cooperate with the BID and their strategic plan. I’ve attended BID and CDA meetings (I did not see any of my opponents in attendance) and have met with one of the landlords of the Fox Bay building. I also have a few wild ideas like removing the parking meters and looking into the possibility of hiring an economic development director. I’m also aware that we have TID money that needs to be spent within the next few years.

    Will Olson - Three significant areas I want to work on are economic development, green infrastructure, and housing. We should work on a bold redevelopment plan for Silver Spring drive that encourages mixed use buildings that add more affordable housing options while also creating a busier and more vibrant space for our small businesses. I also want to invest in green infrastructure projects, from more solar panels on government buildings, to rain gardens with native species, and flood mitigation measures like permeable pavers. Green infrastructure is good for our environment, it can often be grant funded, and it saves tax dollars over time. Lastly, we need to focus on measures that can responsibly increase housing density and create more affordable options. It’s fantastic that Whitefish Bay is a desirable community, but if housing prices continue their dramatic rise this could become a community where only the wealthy can afford to live. Young families like mine should be able to move here regardless of whether they work in an executive suite, a coffee shop, or a public school.

    Timothy Posnanski – He has resigned from the race.

  2. How would you specifically try to improve transparency on issues important to the village?

    Jay Balachandran - Transparency is about trust. We want to be able to trust what our government is doing. To be honest, in our Village we generally have a high degree of trust because of how successful our local leaders have been in creating and supporting the community we all enjoy today. I think when most people in our Village talk about wanting transparency, I think what we’re talking about is wanting engagement. And for that we need active dialogue between our policy makers and our residents.

    I believe this starts with processes or technologies that take the fantastic work being done by current Village committees and enable residents to dialogue, debate and share ideas about them. Those discussions could lead to finding new answers to problems that our Village government may not yet have considered. Our Village already makes planning sessions and committee & board meetings open to the public, but finding ways to engage residents to attend and participate will take work.

    Publicizing clear long-term Village goals and articulating a clear plan to achieve them will also make it easier for resident to understand and engage with our local leaders, and will help ensure government priorities are in line with ours. By being able to access easily-digestible dashboards from our Village online, we’ll have more trust that our Village is on target for short-term and long-term success.

    Anna Kasper - I think it’s easy to have transparency nowadays. I think if residents really want to find something out, it’s quite easy to subscribe to the village newsletter. Every week, at the top of the village newsletter there are links (and agendas) to each meeting that is being held that week. Because we have open meetings law, the public can easily sit in. Trustee email addresses are on the village website, and I plan on answering questions promptly. Other ways to have transparency can be things like being active on Village Facebook groups, attending things like Coffee with a Cop, or having my own trustee Facebook page where I can keep in touch with residents. I like being out there and talking with as many people as possible. I feel like we’re all neighbors so let’s just keep the conversation going.

    Will Olson - Transparency is only meaningful if it is proactive. It is simply insufficient to create a report that sits gathering dust on a shelf somewhere, and hope that if someone needs it they know where to look. I would like to see the Village create two policies moving forward. First, we should have a formalized policy on minimizing the use of closed door sessions, so that committee work is always readily accessible to the public via the minutes. Second, we need to actively study how our government is actually functioning. A 2020 report, created by a resident, studied traffic citations and identified a deeply troubling racial disparity in ticketing. These are exactly the types of reports the Village should be working on to provide transparency around how our government functions and where it could be improved.

    Timothy Posnanski – He has resigned from the race.

  3. What experience do you have that makes you a good fit for this office?

    Jay Balachandran - I think first and foremost, I care deeply about this community. I really believe in leaving a community better off than when I arrived. I've been here long enough to understand some of the history and the issues. And I'm a parent and a working professional, so I see village issues through the lens that many of our residents do as well.

    I'm naturally curious. I want to understand the “why” when issues arise. I want to know what the experts think, what the research shows. I think good decision-making starts with getting good information from different viewpoints. I'm a good communicator. I think that to be effective in any organization, you've got to be good at communicating your reasoning and you have to make space for others to communicate with you and actively listen when they do.

    I'm a consensus builder. I want to make sure that big decisions have agreement from key stakeholders, and that just because a majority opinion is reached, we don't exclude or marginalize the minority. But I am decisive when needed. I'm a pulmonary / critical care doctor, a field in which we are trained to be decisive with the best information at hand.

    And, finally, I do have experience managing within large organizations. In my various hospital leadership roles, I've navigated challenging budgets, complex decision-making scenarios, and dealing with unforeseen circumstances. And as a private practice physician I am in many ways a small business owner. In addition to being the best doctor I can, I also have to understand the nuts and bolts of budgeting, staff recruitment & retention, marketing, and growth strategies.

    Anna Kasper - Two unique experiences make me a good fit. The first one is that I’m the only small business owner running for office. I’m able to understand what’s going on in the head of someone who is considering opening (or closing) a business on Silver Spring. The second is that I’m a woman. We have a special circumstance right now in Whitefish Bay where we have the opportunity to be one of the few municipalities that has equal representation… meaning that the makeup of our trustees (if I’m elected) will be 50% men and 50% women. The recent census tells us that Whitefish Bay is made up of 51% women. I believe we are progressive enough to make this happen here.

    Will Olson - I have experience serving in a variety of executive board type roles that I believe have prepared me well for serving on the Village Board. I have volunteered on several non-profit boards, while working full time, which has taught me how to balance various commitments and build the coalitions needed to make progress. I also co-founded and currently help lead a large, grassroots organizing group called Milwaukee Democratic Action. My experiences as a volunteer organizer have taught me the importance of meeting the community where they are to have important discussions and get feedback, whether that is on social media or via door to door canvassing. Lastly, my education has prepared me to tackle highly technical issues in a variety of topics. I worked on public health research for two and a half years before getting a PhD in microbiology and infectious disease at UW-Madison, and I am currently around two months from completing law school at Marquette. My education has given me plenty of experience with rapidly digesting complicated reports on a range of topics, synthesizing the salient details, and asking important questions.

    Timothy Posnanski – He has resigned from the race.

  4. Should Village residents have a say in policy regarding policing, and how could that be implemented?

    Jay Balachandran - Yes. When there is strong resident engagement in local police policies and public safety initiatives, everyone benefits. Our residents already enjoy a strong relationship with our police and Chief Whitaker is committed to transparency and resident engagement.

    Because of the good framework the Village has established, opportunities for involvement in policies on policing already exist. Residents have the opportunity to engage with the Police Commission and Village leadership on policy issues and to request discussions about issues of concern. Mechanisms to do so could and should be better publicized.

    Anna Kasper - Residents pay taxes. Taxes pay salaries. So why not? I think this is more so implemented by residents taking part in their local government. Reach out to local officials, show up to open meetings, attend Coffee with a Cop. Stay engaged, not just when things are bad but also when things are good.

    Will Olson - Absolutely. Our policing is the most dramatic extension of our municipal authority and it should reflect our community’s values. I believe that the hiring process for leadership positions within the department should be conducted in the open, including opportunities for residents to ask questions of candidates. We should also have a more proactive citizen review board that handles complaints but also serves to review statistical reports on what our policing actually looks like. That way there is a degree of citizen oversight that can identify any issues with our current practices and recommend solutions so that our policing aligns with our priorities as a Village.

    Timothy Posnanski – He has resigned from the race.

  5. How would you rate the Village’s efforts in sustainability? What can we do better?

    Jay Balachandran - Our Village has taken good steps to be more environmentally conscious. In just the past few years we've seen solar panels installed at the DPW building and LED lighting in our streets, which both are not only good for the environment but also fiscally sound decisions which save us financially in the long run. Our village also use permeable surfaces in all village road and parking lot work to help reduce rainwater run-off.

    But being an environmentally responsible community takes ongoing innovation and work. I think we could consider re-establishing a Village committee for vetting environmental initiatives or at least ensuring that decisions made by our village are in alignment with our vision of the village. This would be helpful in making our village more proactive on green initiatives, rather than relying on community individuals to drive change.

    Incentivizing businesses and residents to reduce waste production could be enormously helpful for the environment and could provide cost savings. For examples, the cost of subsidizing resident participation in area composting programs could be offset by savings from reduced landfill dumping.

    Anna Kasper - I think the Village has a great start, so let’s keep going! I think we should implement a composting program, one that has a subsidy like Shorewood. Involving residents in composting can make a huge reduction in methane gas. I’ve already had meetings with The WFB Garden Club and with MMSD. Whitefish Bay is already doing a lot more than other municipalities and I’m happy that we’re a part of MMSD’s Green Infrastructure Program. Let’s keep the momentum going. More rain barrels in people’s yards, more roof top gardens like at Beaumont, more Bioswales, and more porous pavement when the opportunity arises. The Village also has money through the Green Infrastructure Program to use up right now. So, I’m aware of that too.

    Will Olson - I think the Village’s efforts regarding sustainability have been fairly average. We have real room for improvement, and several recent developments give me hope. The solar panels on the public works building were a great start, as were the new LED street lights and the installation of permeable pavers in alley ways. We need to build on this momentum, and there are multiple great places to start. By modernizing our waste management practices to promote recycling and composting we can decrease our reliance on rapidly diminishing landfill space. Installing more solar projects on government buildings will reduce our energy needs and increase our grid resiliency. Flood risk can be substantially decreased with rain barrel rebate programs, rain gardens on public lands, and zoning codes to require permeability measures in construction. There are so many exciting sustainability initiatives that we can and should work on to reduce our environmental impact with the added benefit of tax dollar savings that enable even more future projects.

    Timothy Posnanski – He has resigned from the race.