Racine County Eye asked candidates to fill out a questionnaire so that our readers could learn more about them. These are Travis Yanke’s answers for the Mount Pleasant election.
What position are you seeking?
Village of Mount Pleasant Trustee #1
How long have you lived in Mount Pleasant?
Director of US Medical Affairs Clinical Research Operations
What motivated you to seek office?
Since moving to Mount Pleasant in 2009 I have been an advocate for my neighborhood. Over the past decade, I have had countless interactions with our Village Board and Staff related to development concerns that impacted us directly. During this time, it became apparent the Village did not have the residents’ best interests in mind. The Village Board rarely listens to residents’ concerns and rubber stamps basically all development proposals which come before them.
If there is any level of the United States government which should care about, listen to, and act on behalf of the citizens, it is your local government. When elected I intend to follow that train of thought and be an advocate for all the residents in Mount Pleasant, who are essentially my neighbors.
What do you think Mount Pleasant’s strengths are?
My fellow residents and their passion for living in Mount Pleasant. It has been apparent during my phone calls to residents and knocking on doors that my neighbors love their homes and where they live. Many had genuine concerns and questions about Foxconn’s future. Others were upset about the repeated, suspicious increases in home assessments, which directly translate to property tax increases, with no apparent end in sight. Our location between Milwaukee and Northern Illinois lends well to commuters who work in either area, like my wife and me. Along with this is our rural community, which many residents have stated is why they choose to live in Mount Pleasant.
What do you think Mount Pleasant’s weaknesses are?
The major ones are:
- The debt burden due to Foxconn and the other six open TIDs
- The annual Village budget which continues to increase exponentially each year
- A Village Board which doesn’t support residents and operates mostly in secret.
- With Foxconn, alternate plans should already be in place if they default on their contract. Currently, the Village Board does not have a contingency plan should Foxconn walk away, (they are) only hoping for the best. This is not how elected persons should be conducting business on behalf of the residents.
- Each year the Village’s annual budget increases (40% increase since 2017) with no pushback by the Village Board. The Village Board rubber stamps it with zero accountability on how it will be used.
- Lastly, the current Village Board itself does not care about nor respect the residents. Mount Pleasant is their little shiny toy to do with what they want; they do not care if decisions impact us. This needs to change by electing new Board members.
If elected, name three priorities you would want to focus on during your term.
1. Respect, listen to and be transparent with the residents.
2. Revisit the local Foxconn agreement to ensure alternate development plans are in place. Restart regular, public Foxconn updates.
3. Address the annual budget’s continued increases and assess all TIDs for possible revisions.
If you are proposing any new programs, how would you pay for them?
Currently, nothing new is being planned for implementation. As previously stated, the first actions are to reduce spending, address Village budget issues, revisit all open TIDs for possible revisions, and ensure there are Foxconn alternate plans of action in place.
If you are proposing cutting services, please explain why that would be a priority.
As of now, there are two items which will be changed soon after taking office. First is the elimination of the Foxconn Project Manager position. This will immediately save the Village $32,000 a month. Second is disbanding the Mount Pleasant Tourism Commission and rejoining Real Racine as our tourism sponsor. By doing so we will have a true voice when it comes to promoting that people visit Mount Pleasant.
Did the Foxconn project benefit the taxpayers in Mount Pleasant? Please explain your reasoning.
No. It negatively impacted every taxpaying resident who lived within the development’s site by taking their home, property or business and forcing them to move. For the rest of Mount Pleasant’s taxpayers, it has directly led to property tax increases in an attempt to cover Foxconn’s TID 5 loan. In addition, the project has put the Village in a real position to go bankrupt along with burdening the rest of Wisconsin’s taxpayers to support it.
Why should people elect Travis Yanke?
As any of my neighbors would attest, I’m passionate and vocal when it comes to items that impact residents. When elected, I will truly represent residents on the Village Board. Along with this voice, my 25-year career in pharmaceutical R&D gives me the background and tools necessary to oversee the complex, large-scale projects that come before the Village Board. Managing global projects with key milestones while interacting with diverse stakeholders, and managing budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars, makes me an easy choice to vote for on April 4th.
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