**Editor’s Note: Both candidates for Mount Pleasant Village President – incumbent Mark Gleason and Jerry Garski – were sent a list of questions from Racine County Eye. We feature Garski’s answers here and if Gleason responds, we will run a separate story with his responses.
Jerry Garski, 49
1234 West Road
Education: Bachelors degree from Carthage College in Business Administration with a computer Science Minor
Former trustee 2010-2014
What made you want to seek this office?
The Village of Mount Pleasant Board of Trustees, including my opponent, Village President Mark Gleason
Tell us about your civic involvement and any volunteering that you’ve done.
Living in the area for 20 years I have joined the Caledonia Loins Club and have been an active member for over a decade., Volunteering whenever the club needs assistance. Previously I have been a Lions Club Volunteer at the Kraut Festival, Chocolate Festival and the Caledonia Lions Club car show along with other events that they participate in. I have also donated my time to animal rescue transport. Transporting rescued animals to no kill shelters. It is rewarding to help animals on their journey to their forever homes. This how I found and adopted my dog Zoey.
What makes you qualified for the office you are seeking?
I consider myself to a patient person who is interested in listening to people. It is the best way to learn and get other perspectives. This is one of the things I believe is most needed in Mt. Pleasant right now and it is a characteristic that I possess.
What sets you apart from other candidate(s)?
What sets me apart from the other candidate is that I have paid my property taxes for last year and have done so every year. As an elected official, the very least I can do is meet the basic requirement every property owner is asked – pay your taxes.
My opponent is not only late paying his 2014 taxes, he has been late over 2000 days in the previous years. Tax revenue is what funds our village operations – it matters. It’s not fair to make decisions about how to spend tax dollars when you haven’t paid yourself.
If elected, what would your priorities be?
As Village President would be to outline an action plan for reducing emergency response times for residents in the eastern part of Mt. Pleasant. Too many residents watched their emergency rise while they paid even more for their property tax levy.
I would propose restoring the ordinance that would allow residents to ask questions on agenda items during public meetings. Our residents should be invited to participate in the business of Mt. Pleasant.
I would go back and revisit our sewer agreement with Caledonia. I support development – but not at the expense of our village and residents. The assessments our residents are facing will force some people to lose their homes. They didn’t ask for this. We’ve discovered that Mt. Pleasant secretly forgave more than a $1 million in interest owed to us by Caledonia. Why are our own people sacrificing for Caledonia’s development?
I will undo the years of autocratic rule in the Village Hall. We work for the betterment of the people and our community. Staff, trustees and residents will be treated with respect and cooperation.
Do you support the idea of a school district separate from Racine Unified? Why or why not?
The public school system is important and changes should be decided by the entire community through open and honest research. Any plan that is going to over tax, or leave our residents vulnerable to hidden costs is not one I would support.
Mt. Pleasant had the chance to offer voters the opportunity to voice their opinion in a referendum like Caledonia and Sturtevant are doing. My opponent decided not to let people speak – I wouldn’t have done that.
Is the village doing enough to attract and retain companies that offer family-supporting wages? If not, what should be done? If yes, what is being done?
No. Right now the village is swapping jobs with existing businesses while we lose out on big developments to other towns. A land-swap deal with Sturtevant was nearly derailed because of the inattention of my opponent. It was embarrassing and inexcusable.
The worst time to fumble the ball is when developers and our neighbors are waiting for us to act. That will never happen on my watch.
If elected I will actively look for quality new develop that brings in self supporting jobs. Also I will work to change the attitude that Mount Pleasant is not a friendly business environment open for business.
What do you want Mount Pleasant to look like in 10 years?
Mt. Pleasant is perfectly situated in the Chicago/Milwaukee corridor to take advantage of growth and development in our area. But growth is also about becoming what employers look for: a capable employment pool, good education opportunities and functioning transportation. Incentives may bring development to our door, but quality of living will make them stay.
I would like to see a Mt. Pleasant that works for the people and respect their values. We owe it to our residents to protect important services like fire and rescue, to make sure services are equal and fair for everyone.
In ten years, we will have listened to our residents and neighbors and charted a path for improvement that has quality and cooperation.