During the 15 years I worked in the WI State Senate, and especially my time with now retired state Senator Mary Lazich, I saw firsthand what I already knew: constituent relations are critical for anyone in elected office.
Sadly, my aldermanic representative in the city of Franklin has failed me and many others I’m sure due to her complete inability to understand positive rapport with those she represents, even in the reality of the political world that not everyone will agree with you on every issue. An effort must still be made by the elected official to handle and address each and every constituent with respect.
My alderwoman, Kristen Wilhelm, could have learned a lot from Senator Lazich. Trust me, not every message we received was seashells and balloons. Regardless, the senator made it a firm policy that every contact was to be addressed swiftly, respectfully, and accurately. By those standards Wilhelm flunks miserably.
A few summers ago on a pleasant Sunday afternoon Wilhelm unexpectedly drove over to my house, and my wife, daughter and I proceeded to have a very nice conversation on our driveway, about 45 minutes’ worth, most of it politics-free. Finally Wilhelm nicely got to the crux of her visit when she politely asked me why I had a problem with her. I didn’t waste time getting to the point. She was told she doesn’t listen to us and rarely votes the way we want her to.
Since then our alderwoman/constituent relationship has gotten worse, and Wilhelm has lost me. Two of her absolutely ridiculous claims mean I will never support her ever again (as I did in one election a long time ago).
1) According to a Wilhelm e-mail I received a long time ago I really don’t matter because I don’t attend Franklin Common Council meetings in person.
In another e-mail sent earlier this year Wilhelm brought up my lack of attendance again.
“During my 8.5 years of volunteering and service to our community, totally 20 years of attending meetings, I’ve not seen you at one. “
I’ve actually been to a few, including one where I was recovering from hip surgery but went to City Hall to congratulate her, Steve Olson, and others who were sworn in following an April election. Her e-mail continued:
“Without video, listening to the audio (of a Council meeting) does not provide viewing rude body gestures or knowledge of the many people who email or wait for me after a meeting to express how they have no idea how I put up with it. Your armchair warrior methods provided a very limited view of your city government and serves only one vs the people of Franklin.”
You got that. Don’t attend meetings, why should I bother with you? Not only did Wilhelm insult me, but practically the entire city that by the way neglects to show up at City Hall unless there’s an axe to grind.
2) Wilhelm says she represents an entire district, not just the Fischer’s. From that e-mail earlier this year:
“My job is to serve the majority and your opinions often fall outside of that, yet you expect your one household should receive a higher percentage of attention than the remaining 6000 I work hard to represent.”
That’s absurd. Laughable.
Does she honestly believe that there’s no one else in the district that agrees with me and my wife? My “opinions often fall outside of “ the majority? Has she examined the vote totals from previous elections and how they break down ideologically? What is she smoking?
From a 2016 e-mail:
“I’ve had a very long day Kevin. I work hard. I always read my material and come prepared. I can’t help that you don’t appreciate what I do for this city. I think you’re very unappreciative. I represent 6,000 people and I get more complaints about what I do or do not do from you than I get from one subdivision in an entire year. Something just does not add up.”
Wilhelm’s inflated ego makes it virtually impossible for her to recognize how she alienates people. Not everyone idolizes her. And that frosts her, too.
In the past week I’ve received two phone calls from Franklin’s queen bee where her condescending messages spoke to me as if I was some imbecilic juvenile who didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.
Let’s not forget when Wilhelm didn’t get her way on the site for Kayla’s Playground she had a hissy fit, and bucked the project all the way. A planned all-inclusive playground.
Because it’s all about her. If you disagree with her, then you must be the problem, undeserving of respectful consideration. And from what I’m hearing this once supposedly warm and fuzzy liberal has become increasingly more belligerent and difficult to deal with.
Solid, efficient constituent relations are not Wilhelm’s trademark, not to mention she’s out of touch with her conservative district. She needs to go.