GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – With less than three weeks until the election, voters heard directly from the two candidates running for Green Bay mayor at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Green Bay.
Mayor Eric Genrich faces off against Chad Weininger who is currently Brown County’s Director of Administration.
While the different perspectives of the two candidates were abundantly obvious during the forum, the two did agree that public safety, improving the city’s infrastructure, and community development should be top priorities for Green Bay moving forward.
“Our property taxes have ticked up a bit over the last four years, but that’s because of the investments we’ve been able to make in public safety, infrastructure, and other priorities for the city of Green Bay,” said Genrich.
“As a father of four young children I’m very concerned about the direction and the future of the city of Green Bay,” said Weininger.
Weininger said he wanted to address rising crime by getting into neighborhoods himself and talking to residents about solutions for the problems that affect their specific corner of the city. He also said he wants to hire more police officers.
Weininger also criticized Genrich for not signing the city onto a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers that would have brought in extra money to address this problem in the city.
“As a community, we used to pride ourselves on being a big city with a small town feel, now we’re a small city with big city issues,” said Weininger.
Genrich’s administration has increased the police department’s budget by nearly $4 million since he first took office. He also said the city is in the running for a grant that would fund a mentorship program for those who are at high risk of committing crimes.
“I don’t know that too many people can imagine Chad plotting around in his khakis fighting crime himself,” said Genrich. “That is why we have a chief of police. That is why we have a police department.”
“Again I’m very proud of our record on public safety both our police and fire departments and we’re going to continue to do whatever it takes to make sure that Green Bay continues to be a safe community,” said Genrich.
Genrich also highlighted the fact that his administration has repaired about 22 miles of roads and made 11 bridge repairs. He said many of the roads in the worst shape are state-owned roads outside of the city’s responsibility.
Weininger said that 22 miles of road isn’t an accomplishment to be proud of and that the administration should have been able to fix more.
Genrich and Weininger agreed that bringing more affordable housing to the city should be a priority as well.
Both candidates traded attacks on a number of issues.
Genrich continues to take heat for a decision to install audio recording devices in city hall without informing city council or the public. There’s currently a pending lawsuit and last week the common council voted to take down the audio equipment.
This morning, two Republican lawmakers unveiled a bill that would add stricter requirements for any use of audio devices in public buildings in response to Green Bay’s use of the equipment.
Genrich reiterated city officials put the equipment there for safety reasons and that the heat he’s gotten for them are political attacks.
Weininger also criticized Genrich for how the city has handled elections in the past.
“During the 2020 election he (Genrich) disenfranchised hundreds if not thousands of voters,” said Weininger.
“We’ve faced some pretty significant headwinds both political and pandemic related, but despite it all we’ve made tremendous progress for the people of Green Bay,” said Genrich.
Weininger served in the Wisconsin state assembly as a Republican from 2011 until 2015. Genrich was critical of some of the votes he cast as a member of the state legislature particularly ones pertaining to tax breaks for the wealthy and ones that went against labor unions.
“I’m being attacked with stuff that has nothing to do with city issues,” said Weininger. “Being the mayor is about who is the most qualified to run the city and come up with a vision and execute that vision. In my role with the county I’ve had a nonpartisan role and I’ve delivered on that.”
“I’ve always operated in a nonpartisan manner, I’ve been doing that for the last eight years and I’m the only one who can say I’ve held a nonpartisan position and has truly been nonpartisan,” Weininger continued.
The mayoral election is April 4.