Your name:  Matt Stippich

Address:  2220 N Wauwatosa Avenue

Phone Number:  414-331-7874

Email address:  matt@stippich.com (mstippich@wauwatosa.net)

Occupation/Employer:

 General Counsel/President of Prof. Services for Digital Intelligence

Partner at Stippich, Selin & Cain Law Firm

Adjunct Professor of Law at Marquette University

 

1. Why do you want to be a Wauwatosa alder?


It has been a privilege to serve as Alderman in District 1 for the past for years.  I am running for re-election because I think my involvement contributes positively to city council.  As Alderman, I have had the opportunity to engage with constituents on difficult issues, seek consensus and find pragmatic solutions to somewhat complex issues.  As an 18 year resident, anyone who has met me knows that I am passionate about Wauwatosa — especially East Tosa. There is a soul in this District that unique, vibrant and alive.  I truly enjoy serving the residents of District 1 with the sole purpose of preserving and fostering those things that make Wauwatosa a great place to live.

Prior to joining council, I began working to improve East Tosa many years ago when I was involved with the East Tosa Alliance. At the time the organization was formed we were concerned about reversing the direction of blight on North Avenue and creating a vibrant, walkable neighborhood. Look at it now. Similar to the Village to the south, this commercial district complements the beautiful neighborhoods in a way that creates a complete community.

Having served the past 4 years as District 1 Alder, I understand the challenges we face as we continue to develop and grow. I am an ardent supporter of preserving the character of our neighborhoods.  It is the unique balance of residents, small businesses, neighborhood schools and public green space that define the character of Wauwatosa.  I believe my dedication to the community, combined with my experience as resident, business owner, parent, attorney, chili cook and neighbor allow me to make these decisions in a pragmatic and thoughtful manner that will continue to serve the district well.


2. What experience in the private sector or in public service would you bring to this position?


As a business owner and attorney I have spent most of my professional career finding creative solutions to complex issues.  Running a business taught me the value of planning, budgeting, watching expenses, engaging employees and doing what’s best for the client.  When it comes to city business, we, the citizens are the clients.  


I bring to Council my ability to consider all aspects of an issue and work towards consensus, combined with my confidence to stand up for what I believe is right.  In my numerous leadership positions, I have had to balance the often conflicting interests in order to make decisions and move forward with projects.  


As a community leader, parent and teacher I have learned that there are many things that are more important than ego or self-interest.  In these roles I have embraced the concept of servant leadership and truly believe that representative government is about doing what is best for the community.  


3. With what charitable, civic, or other organizations have you served? Briefly describe your contributions to these groups.


Chair of City of Wauwatosa Government Affairs Committee - I chair this committee that focuses on matters of licensing, employee relations, communication (other than marketing), government affairs, governance, strategic planning, legislative affairs, and council administration.


Member of Community Affairs Committee - I serve on this standing committee that focuses on matters related to development, safety and quality of life issues, as well as the marketing of the city.


Member of City of Wauwatosa Communications and Marketing Advisory Committee - I currently serve on this committee which focuses on citizen engagement and more effective city communications.


Former Member of Civic Celebration Committee - During my tenure on the Civic Celebration Committee I helped coordinate the annual 4th of July Parade.


Former Founding Board Member of the East Tosa Alliance - Served on the board of directors and was an active member of the East Tosa Alliance.  We formed the alliance with mission to stabilize and revitalize the District;  to stimulate community pride and facilitate civic action and municipal improvements in the District; to combat community deterioration and improve interest and concern to the District, and to facilitate citizen involvement in community improvement plans, programs and projects.


Active Supporter of East Tosa’s Tour of America’s Dairyland Bike Race - I have served as a volunteer and supporter of this annual East Tosa bike race that highlights the businesses and neighborhoods in East Tosa.


Active Supporter and Participant in Chillin’ on The Avenue (1st Place Chili) - I have supported and participated as a cook for this neighborhood chili cook off and social.


Wauwatosa Avenue United Methodist Church - I have been an active member of WAUMC previously serving as chair of the finance committee, church council and a special facilities committee.


Boy Scout Leader at Roosevelt Elementary - I served as my son’s den leader for several years at Roosevelt Elementary.


4. What are the two or three biggest issues Wauwatosa will face over the next four years?


Deferred capital projects, including our sewers, pose the biggest challenge for the city moving forward. We are literally sitting on a network of sewers and laterals that are long overdue for repair. Sewer backups in District 1 and neighboring District 5 are a big issue for homeowners. The issue is further complicated by the fact that both public sewers and private laterals are implicated.   Fortunately, our forward-thinking Public Works office has started the process of finding cost conscious solutions to this multi-million dollar issue. Transfer of jurisdiction over a portion of Schoonmaker Creek and the surrounding watershed to Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is one creative solution that may help with some of these costs. We need to develop a comprehensive plan that restores our infrastructure to a status that will protect against further damage to homes and provide a foundation that will serve our community in future years.  




5. Has Wauwatosa found the right balance between tax-base expansion through development on the one hand and neighborhood preservation and natural-area protections on the other, or does the city need to slow down and reevaluate the speed and extent of new development?


I don’t believe that these two issues, development and neighborhood preservation, are mutually exclusive choices.  Take North Avenue, for example.  Ten years ago we were facing significant economic challenges along East North Avenue.  Core businesses had left the district.  At least two buildings had significant fire damage and remained vacant.  Rents were depressed and were attracting undesirable businesses such as cash now/check cashing establishments.  Our surrounding neighborhoods in the 1st and 5th District were in jeopardy of significant deterioration.  It was only through thoughtful and “right-sized” economic development that we turned East Tosa into one of the most desirable commercial and residential districts in the area.  We can have smart economic development that compliments our neighborhoods.  


Furthermore, I also do not believe that we can “fix” our municipal finance situation by trying to continually increase the tax-base through net new construction.  It is a losing proposition if we believe it is a complete solution to the problem.  That being said, I think we need to continue to explore opportunities that either compliment existing neighborhoods or otherwise have less of an impact.  We should look to infill and redevelopment projects along Mayfair Road before breaking ground on vacant land.


As I was knocking on doors this past week I got into a discussion about development with a  30+ year resident.  He said, “Matt, one thing I have learned during my lifetime is that change is inevitable.  Progress is optional.”  His words resonate with me.  Development is a reality that we need to manage. It impacts our ability to raise revenue in the world of levy limits. It is necessary to develop properties that have been neglected. It is necessary because healthy commercial districts are foundational to our vibrant community. However, any development decision must be weighed against the potential benefits to or burdens on the quality of life in our neighborhoods — the neighborhoods that make Wauwatosa great.



6. What other options for funding city services, including raising taxes, should Wauwatosa explore?


The mayor and our city staff has done an excellent job of managing the budget the past few years. We can continue to explore development projects in areas that have the least impact on surrounding neighborhoods in an effort to increase the tax base.   Unfortunately there are several state limitations that prevent the city from imposing additional fees or raising taxes without resorting to a referendum.  Unless we can maintain a balanced management of our financial situation, we may need to take that route.  During the past several years we have passed a financial resiliency policy that helps guide our financial decisions.


7. Where could the city look for cost savings? What expenses could it cut or trim?


I think that our city staff has done an excellent job of finding areas to create efficiencies and otherwise save money.  Specifically, the Fire Department and Police Department have explored various shared services opportunities with surrounding jurisdictions.  The DPW is continuously implementing cost savings measures from enhanced garbage pickup to more efficient was of salting and plowing roads.  While I believe we can (and should) improve, I am concerned that we will soon reach a point of diminishing returns.  As we look at cutting or scaling back on services, we must ask ourselves what we want from our city.  The more people I speak with do not want further cuts that would impact the level of city services.   We need our garbage picked up, our roads maintained and plowed, and our streets made safe.  

 



8. Do you favor or oppose additional development or road construction — including the proposed northward extension of 92nd Street to accommodate cars, trucks and busses — on the County Grounds’ northeast quadrant (north of Watertown Plank and east of I-45)?


As I mentioned the last time this issue was discussed before the Community Affairs Committee, I am in support of protecting the Northeast Quadrant from further expansion beyond those areas already designated as developable parcels.  To this end, I am in support of rezoning portions of this area from institutional to parks/open spaces or other conservation designation.  I would also support a plan that prohibits the northward extension of 92nd street.  



9. Do you support proposals to move City Hall and replace the current structure with private development, or should Wauwatosa rehabilitate City Hall instead?


At this point, I have not seen any options for redeveloping the current City Hall site that I would support.  That being said, City Hall is outdated and in dire need of rehabilitation.  We would find process and staffing efficiencies with a redesigned City Hall but must balance the financial implications.



10. Why do you think members of the groups sponsoring this questionnaire should support you?

Throughout the discussions on the


The members should support my run for re-election because I share their passion for citizen engagement.  I engage on the issues that are important to my constituents.  I listen.  I try to find consensus and will provide thoughtful suggestions on how to make decisions that promote a healthy, vibrant, active and engaged Wauwatosa.



11. How might public officials work proactively to make Wauwatosa a more welcoming community to people of all races and backgrounds who live here, or work, attend school, visit or shop here?  What steps should the city take to promote diversity in its hiring practices?


We build the community we support and encourage.  To the extent we want to encourage a more inclusive and welcoming community, we need to lead by example and through our actions.  With the help of various community organizations, we have made strides to make Wauwatosa a welcoming community for all.



12. How should the city address the issue of affordable housing in Wauwatosa?



In 2016 the City engaged in a housing study to analyze our current housing condition and identify housing needs.  While there are many factors that go into the analysis, the study generally identified the an unmet need for roughly 600 “affordable” or subsidized housing units (focused towards a population with a household income of less than $15,000).  This includes demand from individuals that work in Wauwatosa, but may not be in a position to find adequate housing in Wauwatosa.  One draw on the current affordable housing stock included the use of such units by households that could otherwise afford more, but choose to live in a more modest housing option.  The various new apartment options throughout the city should have a residual effect that frees up some of this affordable housing stock.  


That being said, as a community, we need to engage in a thoughtful conversation about the changing demands for housing and our desire to fill those needs.  For Wauwatosa to remain an attractive location for employers we must ensure that sufficient affordable housing stock exists to house employees.  Similarly, our seniors are critical to our vibrant multi-generational community, and I want us to have options that allow that population to age in Wauwatosa.   We need to explore the implications of these options.  To this end, we have committed (and I have supported) the earmarking of certain funds to the CDA from the closing of a recent TID towards affordable housing issues.



13. Would you be willing to participate in a candidate forum or a debate with your opponent?


Yes, and I believe a candidate forum is scheduled for March 22nd.  

County Grounds Coalition #1-Stippich #1-Lockwood #2-Schoenherr #2-Causier #5-Kuhl #5-Nistler #6-Byrne #7-Kofroth #7-Morgan Question #8