ST. JOHN — The results are in, and Republicans Bryan Blazak, Wayne "Waterman" Pondinas, Paul Panczuk and Michael Schilling are moving on to the November municipal elections in hopes to serve on the next St. John Town Council.
All incumbent council members representing the Republican Party have been voted out in the primary election.
Incumbent council members Mark Barenie, Mike Forbes and Rose Hejl were challenged by Blazak, Pondinas, John Corbett and Dawn Pelc for the at-large seats.
After years of fighting for changes before the Board of Zoning Appeals, Plan Commission and Town Council, Blazak said he was overwhelmed by the outcome.
“I was surprised by how many votes we gathered. Wayne and I smoked the incumbents. The town was looking for a change, and they got it,” Blazak said.
“This has been a hard-fought battle, but with the support of many people, I am ready to take on the Democrats in the fall. If I win that race, I promise all the residents of this town that I will bring back integrity, fiscal responsibility and sound town management. … I wish all the losing councilmen the best in their future.”
If elected to the Town Council, Blazak said his top priority for the town’s budget is to assure that a well-funded road plan is in place. He said he also intends to implement a road-impact fee to decrease the amount of taxpayer money being spent on new infrastructure.
He plans to evaluate the staffing of emergency and public works services based on population growth of the town.
Pondinas, who currently works as the town of St. John Customer service representative, said he was grateful for his supporters.
“We hope to do a great job for the town and the people. We will bring the town back to them,” Pondinas said.
Like Blazak, Pondinas also plans to push a road-impact fee that will “alleviate the burden the taxpayers are paying now on new infrastructure.”
He also plans on reviewing and developing a road-maintenance plan to address the many miles that need attention in town.
“I care deeply about my fellow residents and our public safety workers and will continue to make decisions based on what is best for them after listening to all concerns,” Pondinas said in a previous Times report.
Primary winners Blazak and Pondinas now will take on Democrats Richard Thomas and Gina Fezler for the two at-large seats on the council.
Panczuk, current chairman of the Board of Zoning and Appeals, was challenged by Timothy J. Wolf for the 1st Ward seat.
He said winning the primary was humbling.
“I am really appreciative of the voter support. They have made a statement that they want to take the town in a better direction. We will take it to where it needs to be,” Panczuk said. “Looking forward, voters will get more of the same (in general election). The future council will listen, hear the resident’s desires and make the good things happen.”
Panczuk said he is fiscally conservative and his vision for the town includes maintaining responsible development with an emphasis on quality over quantity.
If elected in November, he said he plans to address the roads and infrastructure throughout the town and will focus on maintaining strong property values.
Schilling challenged and beat incumbent Councilwoman Ljubica (Libby) Popovic for the Republican Ward 2 seat.
“I was shocked and thought it might be closer race,” said Schilling, who previously worked for the Public Works Department and since 2002, has served as a volunteer firefighter for the St. John Fire Department.
“I want to thank all my supporters. If it wasn’t for their votes, we would have never got any of this done. With a vote like tonight, it shows people want something done. We will do it for them."
Schilling said he plans to keep property values high because “everyone takes that issue at heart as it’s their investment.” He said he also will examine ways to better align the town’s infrastructure to match its continued growth in population.
Panczuk and Schilling are currently uncontested in the November general election.
“We did what we could. If it was not meant to be, it was not meant to be,” Popovic said of the St. John Republican Professionals slate’s loss Tuesday.