SHEBOYGAN — For Sheboygan’s 2nd Aldermanic District, John Belanger will face Todd Wolf on Tuesday, April 3rd.
Name: John Belanger
Office sought: Sheboygan Common Council – District 2
Occupation: Sales Executive
Family: Married to Therese, sons Matthew and Charlie, daughter Meghan
Education: Graduate of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Elected office experience: Alderman since 2012 and served on as;
- Vice President of Common Council
- Chairman of Public Works Committee
- Chairman of Building Use Committee
- Member of Plan Commission
- Member of Transit Commission
- Member of Finance Committee
- Member of Public Protection and Safety Committee
Top three issues in Sheboygan
1. Aurora Hospital: This will require a skillfully crafted intergovernmental agreement between the City, Aurora, Kohler, and the County. If we are going to provide Water, Police Protection, Fire Protection, and infrastructure improvements, we must be compensated appropriately. There are other sidebar issues that are related to Aurora and that could have bearings on these negotiations such as Butzen Farm, and the 124 acres that Aurora owns south of the Industrial Park.
Also of great concern to the 2nd District is the disposition of the existing Memorial Hospital and the future use of that site once Aurora vacates. I have said that the Memorial Neighborhood Association and the 2nd district should have a strong voice as to what the future holds for this site. There are a lot pieces to this puzzle. It will take a great deal of skill to execute all aspects of this in a way that benefits the City.
2. Remodel and Restoration of City Hall: The plans that Bray has put together are fantastic. The logistics of moving departments out of City Hall and providing a seamless transition as it relates to transacting City business during the construction will be a challenge. However, the issue that I am most concerned with is identifying the ideal workflow and processes prior to moving into the new space. We should be able to have the most efficient City government in the country once we complete the remodel. There should be a great deal of economies and efficiencies gained.
I am wary that we will have people and departments resistant to change because they want to protect their turf, and human nature dictates that it is always easier to continue the old way rather than embrace a new process and technology. We need very strong leadership and vision in this area. To date I have not seen any ideas or suggestions as to how we can maximize efficiencies with this new space. I am very concerned about this. We can not spend this type of money on City Hall and not achieve the maximum efficiencies.
3. The Armory: We have received 6 different responses to our Request for Proposal for this site. We will meet on February 12 as the Committee of the Whole to discuss the options and make a recommendation as how to proceed. I have requested a copy of each of the proposals to read and evaluate on my own prior to this meeting.
In requesting this information it was deemed necessary to provide this to all Aldermen by someone in upper management. To my knowledge no other Alderman had requested this. We have a great variety of ideas and concepts for this site. I will judge these proposals on what is in the best interest of the Citizens of Sheboygan, what is the most financially stable, and viable, what type of return can the City expect in terms of tax base, and what level of developers incentive is required from the City.
I will go into this meeting with an open mind and listen intently on the merits of each of the proposals. This is a unique, high profile and valuable site. We need to make sure we get this right. Whatever use is finally approved for that site it must fit within a master plan for the City.
Reason for running
Because the Council is being reduced to 10 Aldermen from 16 via a Charter Ordinance that I initiated, it is critical for the 2nd District to have a strong and engaged voice. I follow politics very closely…Nationally, State, and Local. I believe that we pay more than enough in local taxes and fees. We need an Alderman that will challenge the “Status Quo” and be a leader. I love Sheboygan. I believe in a fiscally responsible local government. I do not support reckless and irresponsible levels of borrowing. Nor do I support doubling our debt over the next 5 years. I can not stand idly by and do nothing. I am running for Alderman because I believe that Sheboygan can be better and needs a strong fiscally responsible leader!
How can we grow Sheboygan?
There are two ways that Sheboygan can grow. We can grow from within. We are currently experiencing internal growth with the development of Encore Apartments, South 8th Street Apartments, and Portscape Apartments on South Pier. There has been a study that has identified the need for Condos in the Downtown area and some ideas are being floated for this. The Indiana Avenue Corridor has a great deal of potential for future growth.
The second way that we can grow is through annexation. We are currently doing this a well. The Kohler golf course on the south side is a fantastic opportunity for future tax revenue, additional jobs, and a great deal of prestige and pride. We are also annexing land south of the industrial park for future industrial and commercial expansion. Sheboygan has a lot of positive momentum. We need to ensure that we keep it going and do so in a fiscally responsible manner.