Michael Schumacher, one of four candidates running for the District 18 city council seat, has been endorsed by retiring Ald. Paul Van Rooy, who is serving as Schumacher's campaign treasurer. Along with his wife Mary, the 45-year-old Schumacher runs a management consulting business and has lived in the north-side district for eight years.
Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, Schumacher earned a PhD from UW-Madison. His dissertation examined "the conditions that make good governance and collaboration possible." Schumacher also teaches part time at Edgewood College, participates in Leadership Greater Madison and is a member of the Northside Business Association, the Madison Rotary Club, Downtown Madison, Inc. and the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce.
A brief interview follows.
The Daily Page: What can the city do to support and enhance transit options for District 18 residents?
Schumacher: District 18 has several bus routes providing transportation to residents. Because state transit funding has dropped in recent years, Madison needs to make sure that funds are available to keep the bus system viable, even as gas prices and health-care costs go up. Therefore, the city should not divert funding from the bus system to the mayor's streetcar option. The city also needs to ensure that any Transport 2020 commuter rail option does not drain bus funding.
Expanding bus transit service would benefit my district and Madison by enhancing the community's mobility options. As our city's and region's population increases and work opportunities expand, transit use will rise. The city should gather data to find out if buses should run longer hours to serve transit-dependent residents. The city should explore the use of smaller buses during low-ridership times, and the use of rapid transit buses in high-traffic areas.In District 18, the city needs to address the lack of safe and sheltered bus stops on major routes such as Northport, Troy, North Sherman, and Wheeler. On Troy, in places where there are no sidewalks and no shelters, people are forced to stand in the street while waiting for the bus.
You say you "favor expanding our tax base through economic development rather than raising taxes on homeowners." What thing would you most like to see in the city's new Economic Development Plan? Also, where do you stand on a city purchasing preference for local businesses?
To promote economic development and the resulting jobs, I support the concepts of:
- Establishing a user-friendly "one-stop shop,"
- Using an ombudsman/project manager, and
- Consolidating existing commissions to streamline review and approval affecting business location and expansion.
Residents benefit when businesses desire to engage in commerce to make Madison's economy strong. Not only will the workforce have enhanced job options, increased tax revenues will help fund current programs serving students, seniors, and others without having to increase taxes. Studies show that nothing works better to reduce the emerging poverty, for example, than a strong economy and good-paying jobs. Madison's quality of life attracts businesses who know their employees will be happy with the city's assets, but those businesses must not face unwieldy city processes to build or expand.
I would also promote greater cooperation between the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, the newly created Region Economic Development Entity, and the city of Madison to benefit from local and regional expertise and resources. Economic development is a collaborative enterprise that has no room for anti-business rhetoric or practices.
I favor a city purchasing preference for local businesses in the case of bids within a certain percentage of the lowest non-local bid, such as a five percent preference for local firms.
Do you support a second city pool at Warner Park? If so, what will you do to make it happen?
A neighborhood pool at Warner Park would not only provide a safe and fun recreational facility where all generations can meet, it would highlight the Northside's value as a place to invest in. We have the space for a pool and the residents who would use it. Therefore, I support a community pool.
Of course, the city must first resolve certain relevant issues, such as financing, parking, and noise. We need to have a solid understanding of the costs associated with the pool. I would promote a public decision-making process similar to the one addressing the Mallard's stadium rebuilding process so that residents feel the pool is an asset to the community. I would work on raising private contributions with the Circle of Friends for helping to build the pool and to minimize operating costs.
Do you support adding sidewalks to streets, like Troy and Woodard Drive, that currently lack them? Should some areas be left without sidewalks?
I support sidewalks for Troy Drive as our current alder Paul Van Rooy has recommended. This street is a major vehicle and pedestrian artery on the Northside. The lack of a continuous sidewalk on at least one side of the street is a major hazard for pedestrians, particularly at night. A number of pedestrians have shared their fear of getting hit by cars especially when having to walk around parked cars on Troy Drive.
However, I realize that new sidewalks would be a severe financial burden on Troy homeowners. Therefore, I would seek city funding to avoid assessment hardships on homeowners, similar to the partial reimbursement provided to residents in the lead-service replacement program. It would be unfair to current homeowners to have to pay for poor decisions in the past.
After talking to residents on Woodward Drive, I would not call for sidewalks there. Unlike Troy, Woodward Drive is a street that pedestrians use primarily for recreation. Pedestrians and homeowners like the country feel of the road, unique for a city, and view sidewalks as unnecessary and a detriment to the drive's esthetic, green-space qualities.
In general, I believe that new developments should include sidewalks. For existing developments, I believe that nearby residents and homeowners, as part of strong neighborhoods, should have a distinct voice in determining whether sidewalks should be part of their environment and how such sidewalks should be paid for.
You say you "applaud the efforts of those working to come to a reasonable solution for the future of Cherokee Marsh that takes into account both development and environmental needs." What is the appropriate level of development around the marsh?
The Special Area Plan for the Cherokee Marsh development adopted by the Common Council and promoted by Mayor Dave is a reasonable compromise that includes the largest public green space acquisition in the history of the city of Madison. The new houses will be an economic boon to the Northside while minimizing development near sensitive environmental areas. It will limit the number of houses built near the Marsh (5th Addition Development), restore currently neglected wetlands and reduce agricultural runoff. The upscale development will boost the tax base, giving the city additional revenues to pay for necessary services. Nearby retail centers will also benefit, as new customers demand more goods and services.
What can be done to encourage more retail, particularly restaurants, in District 18?
District 18 is mainly residential and there is little space allocated to business zoning. The corner of Northport and Troy is the primary business area in the district. There is not much open space available for retail development, and the new development expected in Cherokee Marsh is slated to be residential.
I would work closely with my neighboring alder from District 12 to look at business development there, such as at Northtown Center (corner of Sherman and Northport), which would serve residents of both our districts.