A Look Back: Former Mayor Huebner Reflects on Accomplishments, Loose Ends
His tenure is over, but that doesn't mean he doesn't plan to be involved.
It's a new type of busy for former Port Washington Mayor Scott Huebner.
Huebner, who spent the last nine years leading the city to what many say is now "a better place," now keeps busy leading his family. With four boys, two in their teens, he has his hands full — attending one athletic game or activity and then the next.
He's also putting time and energy into his work as a sales representative for wholesale housing materials to retailers — a job he has held for 20 years.
What does he miss after two days of not being the mayor? So far, nothing, he said.
His decision not to run for re-election was based on his "belief that people shouldn’t be in political office forever," Huebner said, on top of the fact that he has four boys and a family to focus on.
That's not to say, however, he didn't enjoy his time as mayor — or take pride in the accomplishments of his nine-year tenure.
A better place
Many city residents and officials have credited Huebner for his accomplishments, some publicly during a comedic farewell "roast". Huebner gave Patch the top three improvements he would offer as proof he's leaving the city in a better place.
First, Huebner said, was the establishment of the Port Washington Main Street Program, a volunteer-run organization dedicated to preserving local heritage, organizing events and promoting business.
Main Street is a statewide organization, and municipalities are required to apply in order to start their own branch. If selected by the state program, municipalities "receive technical support and training needed to restore their Main Streets to centers of community activity and commerce," according to the state website.
Port Main Street Executive Director Sara Grover recalled the long application process, and Huebner's vital role in launching the program.
"The Main Street Program would not be in Port Washington if it weren’t for the work of a lot of people, but really — Scott is the champion that drove it home," Grover said. "Not only did Port Washington get accepted as a Main Street Program, but we had the top score of all those communities that applied … so — maybe that says we really needed it, but we also really were very well qualified."
The introduction of Main Street to Port fit well with Huebner's next main improvement in the city: development in the downtown area and a shift to a more business-friendly community.
"Overall, in my opinion, I think we changed our attitude toward business and made (Port) more business friendly," Huebner said, adding that city officials often go out of their way to meet with business owners and help them over hurdles.
Huebner believes his third accomplishment was helping the city to refocus on what Lake Michigan has to offer. That includes but is not limited to: the new stairway from Upper Lake Park to north beach; weekly music festivals in Veteran's Memorial Park during summer; better access to both south and north beach in general; and the ice-skating rink in Veteran's Memorial Park in winter, funded entirely by donations.
But still work to be done
Huebner contemplated stepping down as mayor after his previous 3-year term, but decided to stick around because he wanted to get some more work done in the city.
That being said, there are still things he sees as unfinished as he makes way for newcomer Mayor Tom Mlada.
Huebner said he would have liked to make more progress on the coal dock public area. The coal dock areas once were part of We Energies' regular operations, a place for the company to store mountains of coal that would be used in operating its power plant. Plans for development include a recreational park area with walking paths on the north dock and a bird sanctuary on the south dock. He also would have liked to see development on the VK lands, which were once planned to become 800 acres of subdivisions but went into partial foreclosure, still undeveloped, in November, according to the Ozaukee Press.
"I mean, there's always going to be things (you want to finish)," he said. "A lot happed over nine years. We spent almost a whole nine years negotiating the coal dock (leases) — but in the end, everything turned out for the better."
Though Huebner is no longer the mayor, he does plan to stay involved in improving the city — likely on the Main Street Program.
Huebner appeared briefly at Tuesday night's Common Council meeting, sticking around only long enough to see Mayor Mlada sworn into office. But, even in his absence, council members took the time to recognize him.
"I wanted to publicly thank Scott Huebner for his many years of service for the city of Port Washington," Ald. Dan Becker said. "I think that his passion, his love for the city … was evident. He gave back tremendously for many years and still raising four boys and remaining happily married — I think he just did a wonderful job."