A week ago, petitions calling for a recall of all Paris Town Board members were submitted to the Paris town clerk.
The clerk will have 31 days to decided if the petitions were sufficient to schedule an election, based on the requirements of state statutes.
The recall is being spearheaded by a group of residents who oppose the town’s intergovernmental agreement with Somers that would see some 2,500 acres of Paris land along I-94 transferred to Somers in exchange for a secure boundary for the town. Paris and Somers in the IGA agree to share revenue from development in the 2,500 acres. Paris also agrees to pay Somers $1.25 million and fund two revolving loan funds designed to spur development. Those in the transfer area object to being moved into Somers against their will and because they fear it will hurt their property value if by being in Somers, city of Kenosha water and sewer service is not available for development, as it would be if the property were annexed from Paris into Kenosha.
The agreement was approved by both the Somers and Paris boards, but litigation has halted its implementation. However, Somers has recently sent out a communication to the Paris residents in the transfer area — headlined “Welcome new Somers residents” — as if the agreement moved forward.
If the election goes forward, the current board members will automatically be on the ballot. Other people interested in being on the ballot can go through a nomination process.
Here are some views on the recall by three of the people who organized the petition gathering — and are likely going to be candidates in any recall election — and one of the Town Board members.
Here are comments included in a press release about the recall from each of the three likely candidates:
Paul Terry: “The response to the petition that we have received on the doorsteps has been phenomenal. At first we thought that only those living within the land being annexed into Village of Somers would want to sign, but hundreds more have been in touch with us because they feel ignored and don’t want their taxpayer money handed over to Village of Somers, either.”
Bob Fliess: “What the town should have done is explain their proposal before it was agreed, and to allow residents to have a vote on it. When the Paris Town Board arrogantly threw out the referendum petition it was a real shock to everyone. Now they are even writing letters to everyone at our expense to try and re-write history and pretend they didn’t act like a bunch of authoritarians over a done deal.”
Joe Kolnik: “Paul, Bob, and I have agreed that we will stand against the three Board Members on a platform of throwing out the agreement and making the Town Board more accountable. Paris isn’t a kingdom for three kings – it’s a community for three elected Paris Board Members who will listen to the people. This isn’t just about stopping the tax rise that everyone in Paris will get, it’s about less arrogance and more democracy and transparency. Why weren’t the people of Paris asked before the town board signed the agreement, and why did the board fail to act on so many requests for information for months? Their time ruling, rather than running, Paris is up.”
All three Town Board members — Chairman Virgil Gentz, Supervisor Ken Monson and Supervisor Ron Kammerzelt were contacted by westofthei.com via the telephone number listed under their contact info on the town website. Messages were left asking for comment at all three numbers. Responses received are printed below:
Ron Kammerzelt: “The whole thing is I think a lot of people don’t understand yet what we’re trying to do … The city of Kenosha is interested in growing in Paris mostly for industrial and some commercial, but not residential … The board is trying to do the best thing they can for people in the I-94 corridor and for Paris as a whole so we can plan.” Regarding transparency, Kammerzelt said the board properly noticed any full board meeting, and did more than required by holding office hours about the agreement before the public hearing and meeting where the IGA was approved.