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Tim Gruber vs. Chris Schmidt for District 11
One of 14 seats contested in the spring 2007 elections for the Madison Common Council
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Like other parts of the near-west side of Madison, District 11 is in the midst of dramatic change, as multi-unit and multi-use developments continue to be proposed and built from Hilldale south through University Hill Farms and Midvale Heights. These changes are paramount in neighborhood politics, particularly as Chris Schmidt challenges incumbent Tim Gruber for the district's seat on the city council.

Schmidt, 32, has lived in Madison for a decade, the last six years spent in Distict 11. He is a 1997 graduate of Lawrence University in Appleton and received a master's in Atmosphere Science from the UW in 2000; Schmidt is an associate researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies at the UW Space Science Engineering Center. He is a member of the executive board for the Democratic Party of Dane County and secretary of the state party's Platform and Resolutions Committee.

Gruber has lived 14 of his 41 years of live in District 11. A UW graduate with a degree in Music Education and a master's in music performance, Gruber is a music teacher at Shorewood Hills School. A one-term incumbent endorsed by Progressive Dane, Gruber has served on the Madison Arts Commission, the city's Solid Waste Advisory committee, the Joint West UW committee and the ADA Transit subcommittee.

The Daily Page conducted an email Q&A with each candidate, asking them for responses to six basic questions and eight quick-fire responses to simple choices.

Their responses follow.


Tim Gruber

The Daily Page: Please identify what you consider to be the most important issue in your district, and what you are going to do about it.
Growth of the city and development. I will work for well-planned redevelopment that will turn surface parking lots into places where people can work, live and play.


What's one thing the city can do to address criticisms of its business climate?
Show examples of how progressive policies contribute to a healthy climate for all, as the city continues to prosper.


Two wheels, four wheels and rails. Where should the city go?
All of the above. I think we need to be looking at planning for all transportation possibilities.


What one thing can the city do that it's not currently doing to increase the availability of affordable housing?
Require, through updating the zoning code, that retail stores have residential space above them.


List three things you think the city should spend less money on, and three things on which it should spend more.
More: Drinking water, storm water infiltration, and arts.

Less: Trash collection (through automation), energy (through conservation), and paper (through use of electronic agendas, which could save a large amount of paper).


Do you foresee a situation where you might vote contrary to the express wishes of your constituents?
I might vote against the wishes of some of my constituents, if it is in the best interest of the district. However, there has never been an issue where all of the constituents felt exactly the same way about an issue.


Name the thing you like least about Madison
The West Towne (and East Towne) sea of surface parking lots.


Who is your favorite ex-mayor?
Joseph Schubert, Madison mayor from 1906-1912, helped establish Madison's park system and hired visionary planner John Nolen.


Do you think rates for parking tickets are too high or too low?
About right


How often do you take Metro?
Occasionally


Wisconsin State Journal or The Capital Times?
Isthmus!


Madison Mallards or Mad Rollin' Dolls?
Mallards


Would you rather spend Halloween with the crowds or cops?
The city crew, as this past Halloween I volunteered to help city crews collecting tickets on State Street, had a great time, and would do it again.


Name the most botched public issue in town.
Locating MATC at Truax, so far away from downtown, in an isolated location that doesn't lend itself to pedestrian activity.



Chris Schmidt

The Daily Page: Please identify what you consider to be the most important issue in your district, and what you are going to do about it.
Neighborhood representation. The near west side was very quiet for a long time, but with rapid changes occurring my neighbors in the 11th are realizing they need a strong, proactive, and independent advocate who will fight to maintain our quality of life as we adapt to increasing population and traffic. We deserve to be a respected part of the process, and not to be unfairly demeaned as NIMBYs simply because we disagree.


What's one thing the city can do to address criticisms of its business climate?
Bring an end to the "us vs. them" rhetoric and work on implementing policy.


Two wheels, four wheels and rails. Where should the city go?
Our mass transit priority should be buses, followed by light rail for medium range commuting and travel. It may seem hard to justify light rail now, but if we succeed in concentrating population in the region's cities and towns rail will be very useful. We must also continue to provide for pedestrian and bicycle friendly routes.


What one thing can the city do that it's not currently doing to increase the availability of affordable housing?
Look back to the past to see how this was handled and then adapt that to today. We know that having parks, schools, shopping, and employment nearby drew families to the neighborhoods of the 11th after World War II. As we approve new development and redevelop within the Beltline satisfying those needs and desires should join combating sprawl as our metrics for a successful project.


List three things you think the city should spend less money on, and three things on which it should spend more.
Less: Halloween, studies that duplicate the work done by existing committees, and bus shelters.

More: Metro, basic services such as police and fire, and our aging infrastructure such as water and sewer.


Do you foresee a situation where you might vote contrary to the express wishes of your constituents?
The job is to represent my district first and foremost. If a situation arises where there is controversy or disagreement I will do all in my power to avoid surprising my constituents with my positions and my votes. I am an independent thinker who is willing to discuss my reasoning on issues for as long as is necessary.


Name the thing you like least about Madison.
Stoplights flashing at night; get hit by someone running a red flashing light at 45 mph at 11 p.m. and see how you feel about them.


Who is your favorite ex-mayor?
Otto Festge and Paul Soglin (yes, I am cheating, but they both endorsed me and they were both great.)


Do you think that rates for parking tickets are too high or too low?
I don't know; I haven't earned one in around eight years (knock on wood).


How often do you take Metro?
I take it to work daily in the cold seasons and on stormy days, otherwise I ride my bike to work.


Wisconsin State Journal or The Capital Times?
The Capital Times at home and the WSJ online.


Madison Mallards or Mad Rollin' Dolls?
My interests vary far too widely to choose just one.


Would you rather spend Halloween with the crowds or cops?
I prefer giving candy to the neighbor's kids; they like the pumpkins I carve.


Name the most botched public issue in town.
Growth management: Madison cannot stop sprawl alone so we should stop kidding ourselves and get serious about dealing with a sprawl-encouraging, socio-economic trend that extends beyond the power and capabilities that one lone city can muster.


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