Motivated to move: Chris Wiken plans aldermanic challenge in wake of streetcar vote

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- One man has decided to uproot his family and move into Milwaukee in order to run for alderman. What prompted that decision? An incumbent's vote on the streetcar issue.

Chris Wiken runs The Packing House restaurant on Milwaukee's far south side. It's a family-owned business that was founded in 1974 -- and it's in the 13th Aldermanic District.

"I not only want to see this community survive, but thrive. And that's what's motivating me," said Wiken.

Wiken plans to run for the district seat next year -- and against incumbent Terry Witkowskiif he plans to seek re-election.

"I know he has the community interest at heart. But I believe that he has turned a deaf ear to a lot of the concerns," said Wiken.

Wiken is no stranger to politics. He unseated an incumbent village alderman in 1988 when he was only 18 years old. He also campaigned unsuccessfully for State Assembly and County Supervisor. Wiken says there are many issues that concern him in the city. But the issue of the streetcar, which Witkowski voted for, sent him over the edge -- and into the race.

Wiken plans to pack up his wife and three children in Brookfield and move into the district.

"I see us spending potentially $59 million initially in city dollars for the streetcar and the potential 100s of millions of dollars later, when I think that money could be better spent," said Wiken.

Witkowski did not want to go on camera. But he tells FOX6 News the streetcar does not hurt the 13th Aldermanic District. Instead, he says it will spur economic growth downtown which helps the district. Witkowski also says downtown covers three percent of Milwaukee's land mass but pays 18 percent of the property taxes -- and he believes that will only increase with the streetcar.

Witkowski says the $59 million comes from tax incremental financing districts -- which cannot be used for things like police, fire, schools, etc.

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