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Susan Wagner is throwing her hat in the ring to run against incumbent Jeff Coe in the spring election on April 6, 2021, for City of Racine District 1. To read more about other races, click here.

Where do you live? Racine

How long have you lived there? 16 years

Age? (No response)

Spouse or partner’s name? (No response)

If you have children, please include their ages (No response)

What is your current profession? Program Manager

What position are you applying for? First District Alderman

What motivated you to seek out this seat? I am tired of living in a city that is headed in a direction that embarrasses me. I have friends who choose to move because of administration, the continued tax increases, the continued cuts to resources, the lack of communication, what appears to be corruption in city hall. That they prefer to pack up and move because they feel the situation is hopeless is infuriating, and it’s the city’s fault. I want to stand and fight for the city I choose to call home, and I want to continue the work that other independent voices started.

Why do you think you are a good candidate for the job? I am socially progressive but fiscally conservative. I don’t represent (nor am I supported by) either primary political party. I am a great listener, and I am a fair person. I am creative and a great problem solver and my personal and professional experiences make me well qualified for this role.

Name three things you would like to see change with how things are being done.

  1. Our fiscal irresponsibility is unsustainable. Racine taxpayers are among the most heavily taxed yet services continue to be reduced. We must reduce spending on projects that should be privately funded and return focus to fundamentally necessary projects and reduce our debt load.
  2. Racine needs to encourage entrepreneurship and remove barriers to small business development and prosperity.
  3. Political and social polarization has reached crisis levels and the perception exists that city government is unconcerned with and unresponsive to the demands of city residents. We need to create opportunities for voices to be heard.

What resources would you need to have to accomplish that?

  1. The City must introduce transparency to financial transactions, allowing citizens to review spending. The budget is not available to nor understandable by residents. The approval process must be simplified and accessible to residents.
  2. Opening a business in the city is an unnecessarily complicated process. New hoops through which entrepreneurs must jump are consistently created. Administration needs to streamline the process, making it user friendly to allow maximum accessibility.
  3. Opportunities for honest conversation and a willingness to be vulnerable are necessary to heal the breach between administration and the residents of the city.

What would success look like and how would you measure that success? Successful transparency includes an updated, interactive website where community members can retrieve information and hold administration accountable, bringing back CAR 25, and improved access to committee meetings, city hall employees, and council members. A comprehensive improvement process could simplify the process to open a business, providing documents in multiple languages, and have the Community Development Authority work as a liaison for the learning curve. Overall, administration needs to show interest and respect for the residents of the city to overcome the mistrust and suspicion that currently exists.

How would you seek buy-in from either the community and/or your colleagues to accomplish those tasks? I am a longtime believer in management by example, so these improvements must come from city administration. There needs to be cost cuts at higher levels to provide resources for the residents of the city. Council members must do the hard work and make tough decisions to rebuild lost trust. There may be embarrassment that comes from the introduction of true transparency, but it’s best to get through that and move forward to build a better Racine, rather than just keep rubber-stamping the status quo to hide the problematic decisions that are snowballing.

What characteristics do you bring to the table to accomplish those tasks? I am an excellent, empathetic listener, with years of administrative management experience and a reputation for making sound financial decisions. I do research to learn all sides of a situation and believe there is almost always a reasonable compromise found through effective negotiation. I want to be held accountable and I am strong enough to demand the same of other council members, and I will listen to the residents of the city and will do my best to improve their quality of life.

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