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Green Park planning panel member challenges Ward 2 alderman April 6

An incumbent Green Park alderman is being challenged by a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission in the city's only contested aldermanic race in next week's election.

Ward 2 Alderman Tony Konopka is being challenged in the Tuesday, April 6, election by Jackie Wilson, who has served on the Planning and Zoning Commission for nearly four years.

Tony Konopka
Ward 1 Alderman Judy Betlach and Ward 3 Alderman Fred Baras, who serves as president of the Board of Aldermen, are unopposed in their re-election bids.

All Green Park aldermanic seats carry two-year terms.

Asked to identify the most important issue in the race, the Ward 2 candidates gave these responses:

• "Having a board that can work together and compromise to accomplish the everyday operations of the city. Not all accomplishments have to be major. It's neglecting the minor ones that can give a negative impression and can build into major problems," Konopka said.

Jackie Wilson
• "It is imperative the city have a street maintenance program in place and be proactive instead of reactive," Wilson said.

Konopka, 65, 10721 Antrill Drive, is retired. He and his wife, Suzanne, have two grown children.

Konopka, who is seeking his third term on the Green Park Board of Aldermen, said he is running because he is a "concerned resident."

He previously served on the city's Board of Adjustment and formerly was the city's street commissioner.

Wilson, 67, 9619 Guehring Drive, also is retired.

Wilson, who is making her first bid for elective office, has served on the Green Park Planning and Zoning Commission since May 2000.

She said she is seeking an aldermanic seat because "it's time the city sets goals." She also wants "to see some fresh ideas at City Hall.''

Konopka and Wilson gave these responses to a Call questionnaire:

Since voters approved a half-cent, capital-improvements sales tax, are you pleased with how the revenue has been spent?

Konopka said, "I am satisfied that the funds have been spent on road and street improvements as promised. I would have liked to see these improvements move a little faster than what they did, but I am still pleased with our progress."

Wilson said, "I'm not pleased as I do not see how the revenues have benefited residents."

What is your position on the use of tax-increment financing?

Konopka said, "I'm not aware of anything in the city where TIF would apply. I was not in favor of TIF in the past however cannot foresee circumstances in the future."

Wilson said, "I am not aware of any proposals requesting TIF at this time."

How much of a fund balance should the city keep in its reserves each year? Why?

Konopka said, "It was suggested by the city's accountants of Hochschild, Bloom and Co. LLP, that cities of the size of Green Park should keep a reserve fund balance of 50 percent of annual revenues. This could be used for emergency situations."

Wilson said, "If possible, I would like to see the city of Green Park retain one half of their annual revenue as a reserve."

Should the Board of Aldermen pursue an administrative business license for city businesses or some other type of license?

Konopka said, "I believe that the board should pursue an administrative business license or at least a business registration. This would be a valuable tool to help the city run more efficiently in business matters."

Wilson said, "The city needs to set goals and prioritize issues and I do not believe that this particular issue is No. 1 on the priority list to benefit the residents of Green Park."

In your opinion, has the Board of Aldermen faithfully adhered to the Sunshine Law? Would you support increased penalties for violations of this law?

Konopka said, "It is my opinion that the city has adhered to the Sunshine law. I would be in support of increased penalties as long as the law was worded so as to not be a deterrent for potential candidates seeking public office."

Wilson said, "As I have not attended executive sessions, I am not aware if compliance has been met."

What is your opinion of the proposed improvements to Green Park Road?

Konopka said, "I believe Green Park Road is in need of a drainage system as well as a shoulder of sorts that would improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclist and motorists. I do not want to see extra lanes added."

Wilson said, "I don't believe the recommendation of the consultant on this project has been received and the Board of Aldermen has not released final details. I cannot give an opinion at this time."

What, if anything, should be done to redevelop the Yuma Drive area?

Konopka said, "I would like to see the Yuma Drive area be developed into residential properties that fit in and complement the existing homes."

Wilson said, "I believe the city should be very cautious in the redevelopment of this area as it has a direct impact on traffic and property values."

What is your "vision'' for the city of Green Park?

Konopka said, "My vision would be to continue maintaining an excellent residential community, which would be a safe, desirable place to live and work while keeping a strong commercial base. Accomplishing this will protect our residents' home investments by maintaining strong property values."

Wilson said, "I want to see the city set goals and priorities so that the city can continue to grow and the residents can be proud to live in Green Park."

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