Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima: Clean Slate

Waukesha swears in new Mayor Jeff Scrima Tuesday.

A business owner and developer, Scrima upset incumbent Mayor Larry Nelson - - beating Nelson soundly both in the primary and general election.

So a tip of the hat to Nelson, who was gracious in defeat, and also to Scrima, a political newcomer who takes over the reins as one of Wisconsin's youngest chief executives.

I have exchanged only a few words with Scrima, and sat next to him during one public meeting on the water supply issue in Waukesha's Common Council chambers without knowing that he was already a candidate for Mayor.

Scrima was among politicians and public officials in Waukesha whom I had criticized on this blog for what I saw as Milwaukee-bashing when a water contract between the two cities - - particularly the meaning of conditions Milwaukee city policy would require of a purchaser like Waukesha - - became a campaign issue.

Now that Scrima is Mayor, however, he may find himself soon in discussions with Milwaukee about such a contract - - discussions that may turn into genuine negotiations should Waukesha win permission from the Great Lakes states for a diversion of water to the city from Lake Michigan.

We'll see how Scrima handles this entire matter now that his candidacy is behind him, and he has a pivotal role in what could define the two cities' complex relationship for years to come.

To Milwaukee officials, Waukesha's new Mayor is an unknown - - which is both a problem and an opportunity.

For Waukesha, Scrima, Milwaukee, and the entire region, let's hope Waukesha's Scrima era is productive and mutually-respectful.

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