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After posting questions written by Racine County Eye and the Mount Pleasant trustee candidates’ answers, we asked residents what they wanted to know.
Here are the questions and their answers listed in the order in which they were received. Only incumbent Sonny Havn and challenger Drake Miller returned emails. Answers have been not been edited:
How can the fire chief say response times are up, but Gleason says response times are down with the closing of Station 7 in Lake Park? Anyone living on the East Side knows response times are closer to 10-12, not the 4 minute benchmark set years ago.Havn: There has been much discussion as to the response times on the East Side. Response times varied greatly when Station 7 was open, on many occasions the staff at Station 7 were responding to calls in other parts of the South Shore coverage area, in that case response times were up. When the staff was at Station 7, obviously the response time would be less.
We have other areas in the Village that have response times that are up, that being said, I feel that we need to look for locations where we can locate future fire stations so as to serve our residents better.
A number of years ago, before Station 8 was built, the Board was told that there were negotiations with the City of Racine to build a station in the area of East Durand Avenue. With that information it was decided to build Station 8 where it is today. The thought was that the City of Racine would be able to cover the East Side of Mount Pleasant and South Shore would be able to cover the South West end of Racine.
Miller: After Lake Park station closed, the nearest fire station for all those residents is now 4 1/2 miles away. It just isn’t possible their response times went down. Averaging response times to give the illusion of safety is wrong. The truth is, there are thousands of residents who live on the east side of Mt. Pleasant who live outside the optimal 4 minute, life-saving response time zone.
What is the probability of Mount Pleasant getting its own School District?
Havn: I think that the only way for Mount Pleasant to get it’s own School District is to combine with Sturtevant and Caledonia. For sure a study would need to be made to determine all costs to the taxpayers and with input from the residents. At this time Caledonia and Sturtevant’s referendum are stand alone for each community. I received very few calls from Mount Pleasant residents indicating support for a referendum. We did hear from residents at our board meetings, however some were from other communities.
Miller: A few years ago when Caledonia first pursued having their own school district, the study they conducted found the cost of breaking away to be wildly prohibitive for residents. There is not much evidence that anything has changed since then. Plus, RUSD will have to give the villages permission to break away or state law will have to be changed first. There are many steps to this process, which will begin with a cost analysis.
There have been some concerns recently about a lack of transparency in the village government; do you think these concerns are justified and what, if anything, should be done to address them?
Havn: The concerns of lack of transparency in the village government is the perfect election rhetoric. It’s the usual battle cry for the small negative faction that we have in the village. There are times when we need to meet in closed sessions for negotiation purposes or personnel matters, some feel that we should do everything in open session, that is not possible. These sessions always openly posted and are reported out after the meeting.
Miller: I do believe the concerns are warranted. People have been submitting open records requests and rarely do they get all the information available. This has been proven by people who do know exactly what information is available. It does seem that the information people are given is based on what someone thinks they are allowed to see. Not exactly the transparency that the residents of Mt. Pleasant are looking for and rightfully deserve. If the residents of Mt. Pleasant want a transparent local government then April 7th is the day to begin that change. If the residents want better representation, representation that will be accessible and listen to their needs, then the residents must demand change on April 7th.
In addition to our education features, we’ll be kicking off a series of stories highlighting how parents, students, and educators are adapting to the impact of COVID-19 on education. If this is important to you, please consider donating to our education reporting fund. https://business.facebook.com/donate/1846323118855149/3262802717172659/