Greendale trustee candidates weigh in

Published on: 1/21/2014

Greendale — Seven candidates, including two incumbents, will vie for two seats on the Greendale Village Board. NOW spoke with each candidate to find out more about their past experience and what they have planned for the village's future.

The spring primary election Feb. 18 will narrow the field to four candidates.

Ted Gurzynski

Ted Gurzynski's campaign emphasizes a need for change on the Village Board.

"I'm running because I'm so frustrated with the political process in total," Gurzynski said. "I have no gripes on the existing (board), but some trustees have been there a doggone long time and that's not how it's supposed to be. Being in politics was not meant to be a lifetime environment."

Gurzynski, a Greendale resident for 41 years, has served on various community organizations, including Rotary International and St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, where he has been a deacon for 30 years.

"My whole lifestyle has revolved around community service," he said. "And if I were elected, I would want to spend my time as a representative for (residents). I will ask the people what they want to see on the (board) agenda."

One of Gurzynski's priorities would be to attract new businesses to the Greendale Industrial Park, he said.

If elected, Gurzynski said, he would limit himself to serving two terms, because "politics shouldn't be a career."

"I don't believe we can change government at the national level until we change it at the state level," he said. "And we can't change the state level until we make a difference at the local level."

Gregory Turay

Incumbent Gregory Turay hopes to conclude his service on the Village Board with a third term in order to complete current projects, he said.

"We've done a number of good things on the board," said Turay, noting the 76th Street project and the development of Southridge Mall and the Greendale Industrial Park. "I think there are still some things left to be done."

Turay has served seven years on the board, but also is an active member in several community organizations, including the Public Works Committee and the Library Board. He is the president of the Chamber of Commerce and previously served as president of the Greendale Entertainment Association.

Turay is a certified public accountant.

"Coming from the point that I have history (on the board), I think I have the know-how to lead the right change for the village," Turay said. "I speak with our village manager (Todd Michaels) several days a week … because I want to be made aware of what's going on in the community so that I can communicate that with my constituents. I think I can lend some expertise to move the village forward.

"Resting on what we (Turay and fellow incumbent James Birmingham) have done in the past, I think we've done a great job."

But after serving three terms, Turay said, he'll step aside.

"I think after three full terms, I'll be ready to leave," he said. "I'd like to see more people come up and present new ideas."

Noelle Joers-Yanisch

Noelle Joers-Yanisch wants to preserve Greendale's historic appeal, while embracing future opportunities for economic development.

Joers-Yanisch, who has lived in Greendale most of her life, said she thinks about her children, third-generation Greendale residents, and how she wants to preserve the village for future generations.

"I want to make sure that the Greendale I love is maintained for the future," she said. "I'm running because I want to represent everyone in Greendale. I know where Greendale will go with the right leadership, and I want to be a part of that leadership."

Joers-Yanisch ran for a trustee seat once before, in 2010 and lost.

"I took a step back and got more involved with the village," she said. "Now's the time for me to move forward."

Joers-Yanisch is a member of the Public Celebrations Committee, the 75th Anniversary Committee, the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Greendale School District's Citizens Budget Committee. She is a full-time employee of the federal government.

"I'm a big proponent of economic development ... and we need to bring that to the downtown area," she said. "I want to preserve the past while preparing for the future. We have to blend the two and be fiscally responsible as well."

Bill Kewan

Bill Kewan, a retired school principal, believes his experience in education would help introduce new ideas to the Village Board.

"As a school principal, I have leadership skills that have been recognized," Kewan said.

Kewan is a recipient of the American Legion's Badger Boys State Award and was named the State Assistant Principal of the Year in 2000 by the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators.

His experience in the West Allis School District and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee schools makes him a good candidate for the board, he said.

"I've attended, and spoke at, several Village Board meetings," Kewan said. "I'm in tune with what's happening."

His platform, "Vote for a Change," emphasizes five points: holding the line on spending, keeping Greendale green, preserving the village center's parking lots, protecting the village's Historical Landmark status and adding more transparency in the village government.

Kewan is opposed to a proposal that would build a 40-foot path through the woods behind the water tower, because "the loss of green space would have a negative impact on the character and theme of Greendale," he said.

Kewan is the vice president of the Greendale Historical Society and a member of the Public Celebrations Committee. He was the team leader for the 75th Anniversary Alumni Village Reunion.

Kewan would encourage more public comment by scheduling frequent town hall meetings, aside from board meetings, to address issues for residents, he said.

"Sometimes, (trustees) stay too long and it's time for fresh ideas," Kewan said. "If I'm elected, I'm going to have more opportunities for the public to voice their concerns."

James Birmingham

James Birmingham will run for re-election after serving on the Village Board for the past 15 years.

Birmingham, a full-time sales manager for Pioneer Industries International and the owner of Broad Street Coffee Co., wants to continue aiding in the development of Greendale.

"I want to continue to be pro-active about the development of Greendale and to make sure we develop our land smartly while conserving our green spaces," Birmingham said.

He said he will remain committed to listening to residents' concerns and addressing them to the board.

"It's my way of giving back to residents," Birmingham said. "It's my promise to represent them."

In order to do that, he has pledged to continue "tightening spending to keep taxes down" and "to continue having less government involved in their everyday lives in Greendale."

Birmingham has lived in Greendale for 59 years and serves as the Finance Committee chairman, vice president of the Greendale Entertainment Association and a member of the Greendale Historical Society.

Donna Ouellette

Life-long Greendale resident Donna Ouellette has served multiple roles in the community, but this is her first stab at running for a public seat.

Ouellette, who works as a branch manager and loan officer for Great Midwest Bank, also serves as the Executive Board vice president of the Greendale Entertainment Association and an ad hoc committee member for the Revitalization of Village Center.

Her resume also includes PTO vice president for Greendale Middle School as well as serving as a member of the Greendale Chamber of Commerce.

Ouellette was given the Spirit of Greendale Award in 2013 and even received a proclamation from the Village Board declaring a "Donna Ouellette" day Jan. 13.

"My goal is to maintain the great quality of life in Greendale," Ouellette said. "We need to keep the district thriving."

One of her main projects would be to turn the historic, albeit vacant, police department building into something beneficial for the community, she said.

"There's been a lot of controversy about (the building) ... but nothing's been done," she said. "I'd really like to renovate it into something useful."

Jason Cyborowski

As a young business owner, Jason Cyborowski believes he can add new ideas to the Village Board.

"I think the younger people need to be more involved in the community," Cyborowski said. "Fifteen, 20 years down the line, we're going to be the ones around, so I think we should have a say in what happens in the future."

Cyborowski, 35, is vice president of J&J Contractors, located in Greendale. He has lived in Greendale for the past four years and ran for a trustee seat in the 2013 election.

"I had a really good turn out last time," he said. "I was really happy about the support I got from the community ... and it was really what pushed me through to decide to run again."

J&J Contractors has many clients in Greendale that have said they support Cyborowski for the board, he said.

Cyborowski has not served on a Greendale committee or board before, but considers that a positive characteristic for a trustee candidate.

"I feel like not being on any boards or committees is a good thing," he said. "I can take all the time I need to give my full attention to being a trustee."