Hagen, Peterson hope to guide city
When voters head to the polls April 5, they'll be asked to decide who should guide the city for the next four years. The choices include a longtime taxpayer advocate, Kevin Peterson, or a veteran mayor who guided the city for 12 years through two...
When voters head to the polls April 5, they'll be asked to decide who should guide the city for the next four years.
The choices include a longtime taxpayer advocate, Kevin Peterson, or a veteran mayor who guided the city for 12 years through two recessions, Bruce Hagen.
After a career in teaching and school administration, Hagen served as Superior's mayor from 1975 to 1987. He went on to serve in state government as chief of staff to the governor, deputy secretary of the Department of Workforce Development, an unemployment insurance administrator and director of intergovernmental relations. More recently, he is the co-owner of Hagen-Anchor Lighting and a consultant to government and industry.
"Government can do a lot to inhibit job growth," said Hagen, who plans to tap those contacts to encourage growth in the city. "Government doesn't create jobs but what we can do is create an environment in the community, a welcoming environment ... the first thing of course is to make sure that we protect and grow our existing businesses.
Peterson, a lifelong resident and an investor in income property, retired as a catastrophic insurance adjuster a few years ago. He served on the city council, filling a vacancy for the duration of the term. As a member of the council and a citizen advocate, he has long advocated on behalf of taxpayers when local government considered major projects or fees threatened the public with higher costs for government.
"What I have to offer is an approach, if you will, based on my history of being active in the community," Peterson said. "If people judge me on how I spoke, acted and lobbied on issues in the past, that's what they'll get out of me in the future."
Most recently, Peterson lobbied city council members to seek concessions from its unions -- despite his belief collective bargaining is a human right.
Those concessions will help fill the gap on revenue the city expects to lose if Gov. Scott Walker's proposed cuts in shared revenue garner the approval of the Legislature.
"We're going to have to do more with less ... we're going to look at the size and mix of staff," Peterson said.
Both candidates recognize the financial implications of the proposed state budget on the city's finances.
"I think we're already taxed quite high," Peterson said, adding that he would be inclined to make cuts rather than raise taxes more.
That leaves the city with two options -- to pay less for services or buy less services, he said.
"We'll be doing some reprioritization of city operations as to what money may be spent where," Hagen said. "Combined with that will be seeking outside funding."
Among those changes includes eliminating some top positions like the development and government affairs director job Jeff Vito retired from last week.
Hagen has said that while the federal government is broke, that won't stop spending and among his priorities is a fix for Belknap Street. He said while the road isn't slated for replacement for another decade or more, it simply won't last that long.
While the candidates have run the most cordial mayoral race the city has seen in recent years, it doesn't mean there aren't differences among the candidates.
Peterson said while Hagen has a resume that some would be jealous of, it's one that is ideal for applying for a job in Madison.
"I argue that I have a resume to be jealous of when applying for the mayor's job," Peterson said. "I don't have a magic answer to all of our problems, but I do offer an approach ... I have some ideas, but the way Superior goes shouldn't be the vision of any one person. The role of mayor would be to collect the vision of many and create that vision."
Hagen said he's going to utilitize his experience and the relationships he's made over the years to reach out for opportunity to attract business and job growth as well as reach out to the local business community to ensure government isn't impeding existing businesses.
"I am extremely experienced and successful ... I feel I've become equipped to put that experience to work at city hall," Hagen said.
For more information on the candidates, visit their Web sites. Hagen can be found at www.hagenforsuperior.com and Peterson can be found at www.peterson4mayor.com .
The candidates will also participate in a debate on KUWS 91.3 FM at 6 p.m. March 31.