The Feb. 19 primary election reduced the number of Platteville Common Council seats for which Barb Stockhausen is running from two to one.
Stockhausen is running against Common Council President Mike Dalecki for Dalecki’s District 1 seat. Stockhausen finished third in the at-large race; Ald. Steve Becker will be opposed April 2 by Michael Denn.
“If phone calls have anything to do with it, there certainly is an opportunity,” said Stockhausen, who applied for and was placed on the ballot for both seats. “The phone calls are never-ending, so I do have a support base out there.”
Stockhausen and Denn are running against not just Dalecki and Becker, respectively, but against what they see as the council’s environment.
“There is great concern over particular council members that are not hearing the people’s message, and basically there’s a need for civility and better stewardship, is what I’ve heard,” said Stockhausen. “Stability, the respect of other members of the public — I just feel that needs to come back. Members of the community work really hard on issues, and then it’s not treated with respect on certain issues.
“What they see is animosity, disrespect among the members, and that filters into the community. That’s why they’re begging for committee members. I feel we are missing a huge group of people who could be helping the town, and we’re ignoring them.”
Beyond civility or lack thereof, Stockhausen is also opposed to what she sees as council micromanaging.
“I don’t think the council should spend hours” on issues, but rather should give general direction and use the city’s committee structure better, she said. “The point is to ask questions and move on. I just don’t feel that [it’s good] to debate for hours and hours what another committee came up with, with answers as best they saw fit, and then change it at another level.”
Stockhausen described some aldermen as “disheartened” over the tone of city politics.
“You definitely have to discuss issues off campus, so to speak,” she said. “You have to work with people, and you have to do a lot of communicating outside the circle.”
Stockhausen has lived in Platteville for 33 years and has owned H&R Block in Platteville for 17 years. She formerly worked in housing and financial aid for UW–Platteville. Her husband is a retired UWP professor.
Stockhausen worked on the campaigns of U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D–La Crosse) and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D–Wisconsin). “You know what people want to hear,” said Stockhausen.
Stockhausen’s number one campaign issue is “returning [city hourly] employees back to the 40-hour work week and returning City Hall to five days a week — traditional business hours.”
She would pay for increased employee compensation by contracting out city work instead of having employees do work — street work, for instance, “can be done by contractors that live in this town.” She also believes the city needs to be more aggressive in applying for grants.
“I feel the budget needs to be reworked,” she said. “If you give your [city] manager a raise, you definitely have to look at your worker bees. They are who the people of the city see first. You can’t treat people with disrespect. And that’s the feeling of the city employees right now.”
Stockhausen believes that the city does not have bad finances, but she believes there has been “mismanagement” of city finances, claiming that the council’s Finance Committee has been “manipulated. … They’re not taking the Finance Committee seriously.” She believes the council has been making poor policy decisions “because they’re micromanaging.”
She wants an “outside auditor [to] come in and reevaluate the books.”
Stockhausen is “immensely” opposed to the $60-per-household garbage fee, instituted this year, and the proposed brush collection fee, calling them “just a tremendous waste of time. … People don’t want to see that fee.”
She is also calling for “leaving parking issues to rest — numerous hours have been spent, and it needs to be followed.”
She is also opposed to cutbacks in Rollo Jamison Museum funding, as well as cuts in hours at the Family Aquatic Center, which were proposed but taken out of the 2013 city budget, and potential future cuts to the Platteville Public Library. “You need these amenities to invite people to town,” she said.
As for other ways to fund city operations besides the fees she opposes, she said, “There are some windows to evaluate” in city spending. “There are two things that make people unhappy — hours worked, and potholes in the street.” She also opposes the city staffing plan created by City Manager Larry Bierke.
As for business development, said Stockhausen, “The Common Council should stay out of the business of Main Street, but be proactive.” She said the city should not depend on revenue from Tax Incremental Financing districts.
She believes the city is not taking advantage of the Platteville Area Chamber of Commerce. She said she as a business owner has “never been approached by the city asking what can the city do for you, how can we help you.”
Stockhausen believes the Common Council needs to better evaluate the city manager position.
“I don’t see on a website a job description — what is that person responsible for,” she said.
Stockhausen also supports open-to-the-public interviews of job candidates.
Stockhausen sees a divide between UW–Platteville and a city from a viewpoint one might not expect.
“There’s a feeling among students that it’s not as comfortable in town as it once was — we don’t have that feeling,” she said. “I want to bring that back.
“Town and gown has always [been an issue] as long as I can remember. As we bring more students to the community, we have to bring landlords together. There’s no oversight; we don’t have a committee or a commission with landlords involved.”