Your name: Heather Kuhl

Address: 2563 N. 62nd St.

Phone Number:  414-255-4565

Email address:

Occupation/Employer: Stay-at-home-parent/community advocate

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

I’m running for alderperson because I love Tosa and want to see it continue to thrive and grow. I’ve lived here for almost four years, and I am still amazed by the sense of community I feel here, both in the neighborhood and at my kids’ elementary school. I think what we have here in Tosa is really special, and I want to make sure that we don’t just protect it, but we work together to keep it accessible, safe and green. I also think that the residents of Wauwatosa are hungry to be heard, and I would be honored to bring the voices of our neighborhood to the Common Council. I have made an earnest effort to spend my time being of service to our community, and I feel that the aldermanic position would be an extension of that service. I also think I would bring a fresh perspective to the many important issues facing our city right now.

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

I am a committed community activist who is determined to stand up for my convictions. I understand the importance of “showing up” and being present, whether it’s addressing the judiciary committee to question the treatment of pregnant women in the Milwaukee County Jail, organizing a collection drive for local families in need, or helping to launch Tosa Against Gun Violence. As a parent of three young kids, I am deeply committed to keeping our community safe, supporting our public schools, and protecting our green spaces.  And, as a stay-at-home mom, I have the time it takes to meet with people one-on-one, to hear their concerns and bring their voices to the Common Council.

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

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

First of all, I think we have a trust/transparency issue between our residents and our elected officials.  We need to encourage community engagement on every level, from the Common Council down to the different committees. When the community knows their voices are being heard and brought to the council we can build a strong community that benefits all.  

We need to focus on SMART development, and we need to really consider if we’re using Tax Incremental Financing as it is intended to be used. Continuing to use TIF- funded development as a way to expand the tax base is short sighted and only creates more deficit. We need to work together to bring in development that we WANT to see in our neighborhoods, and choose what we think will best knit into the fabric of our community. We also need to ensure we have the funds to properly maintain what we have; what good is a tax base expansion that leaves us with a Tosa we no longer recognize as home?

I know that working to maintain our green spaces is a top priority for Tosans. The Sanctuary Woods and County Grounds are one of the many things that makes Wauwatosa unique and we should be dedicated to protecting that for our future generations, because once it’s gone, it’s gone.

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 am absolutely for development that is well thought out, supported by the residents, appropriate for the area, and is beneficial to the community. Wauwatosa is a sought after market . There is no need to approve every project that comes our way. That being said, we do need to make sure that we are preserving and enhancing the unique characteristics of our neighborhoods and natural areas, as these are the things that we love most about Tosa.

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

I live in Tosa because I value the amazing school district and safe environment to raise my family in. I understand that there is a cost associated with having those things and,  as a taxpayer of modest means, am OK with moderate property tax increases- provided they are appropriately focused on strengthening those services. Of course, local control  of  property taxes can only come if the state-mandated levy limits are removed.  I believe Wauwatosa needs to increase efforts in working with the league of municipalities and state-level officials to address the burdensome  effects of these levy limits. Based on a meeting with City’s finance director, I know we can sustain the tax base without any new development for five years, so I think we should take some of that time to be thoughtful and strategic about our future growth

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

I have been working on getting a grant to fund a residential composting pilot for District 5. If we can show the city that it can be successful, we can save money by consolidating yard waste and kitchen scrap pick-up and reduce the number of landfill pick-ups. I’ve also met with Chuck Rohrer, the Chair of Wauwatosa’s Energy and Recycling Advisory Committee, and I was really impressed to learn about the savings that we’ve already seen by making small tweaks to our older buildings. I fully support the committee’s continuing efforts that will both help keep Tosa clean and green and help our bottom line, too!

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)?

I oppose development and any road construction on the County Grounds’ northeast quadrant. Leadership can’t use “green spaces” as just a talking point. We need to take active measures to preserve what we have. We need to respect the economic value of keeping the County Grounds and Sanctuary Woods intact, and also understand that not all value can be measured in dollars and cents.

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

I do not support the City Hall redevelopment concept. The City’s own contracted market study showed that maintaining the current structure was the most cost-effective option for taxpayers. We paid $20K to perform this cost benefit analysis; I think we should respect the findings. I am also VERY concerned with what traffic is going to look like at that already dangerous intersection of 76th and North if we add an additional 350 rental units AND 10,000 square feet of commercial space. We need to look at every angle of our development proposals, not just seek to expand the tax base.

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

I am coming at this position from a genuine place of service. I’m not using this as a career stepping stone or for personal gain. My only vested interest is representing  the voices of passion and concern amongst my neighbors; to champion honesty and transparency in our government. It would be my honor to serve my community as alderperson.

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?

I have been meeting with Michael Brock, the Diversity and Equity Leader at Roosevelt Elementary about this very topic.  I think the first thing we need to do is sit down and listen to people of color tell US how we can be more inclusive.  I love that the school district has taken an active role in working with our kids to bring up the complex issues of privilege and inclusion.  We also need to make sure that we are deliberate in bringing in a diverse group of voices to leadership roles so that we can get a variety of perspectives on issues that affect our residents.

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

 I support inclusionary zoning as a direct way to increase the availability of affordable housing while also encouraging and supporting a more socially, economically and racially diverse community.  If the city is determined to support the construction of so many new apartment complexes, then I think there is an obligation to maintain a certain percentage of  affordable housing to ensure that we don’t price out families of more modest incomes.

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

 I am already participating in two candidate forums this month, one hosted by Tosa East Town Neighborhood Association and one hosted by the Wauwatosa Republicans, but I’m open to discussing a third if it’s felt that it’s absolutely necessary.

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