Alderman's Record: A Transparency Issue or Dirty Politics?
Dan Soltysiak is the focus of scrutiny by newly formed Muskego political action committee, which says he didn't come clean on his previous "criminal transgressions'; Soltysiak maintains he was honest and has no criminal record.
A group called Stand Up Muskego, a newly formed political action committee, is circulating documents that call into question how forthright Alderman Dan Soltysiak has been on his previous involvement with police.
Including reports from an incident in 1997 involving a theft in New Berlin, and other charges in Brookfield, the group said in a letter sent to the local media:
"Dan Soltysiak has run his current campaign on the fact that Muskego government needs to be transparent and open in its dealings with the public it serves...When running for political office, it is imperative the public knows the full and true character of those people they may elect as their chosen governmental representative."
In an interview Wednesday, Soltysiak said the incidents, which date back to 1997 when he was in high school, have all been expunged or dismissed from his record. In addition, a theft charge was dismissed on appeal after he served the sentence in Waukesha County.
He said he did serve a 30-day work-release jail sentence for a charge of intentionally concealing merchandise held for resale when he was 19 — 13 years ago. However, he maintains that the campaign to exhume his record by Stand Up Muskego was a "red herring" and the documents outlining the misdemeanor charges were misleading because they were incomplete.
"I feel this is more about my vote on the lake park issue," said Soltysiak, who in January voted against the $3.55 million land purchase for a park at Little Muskego Lake.
"This is a non-issue. I have gone about my life the right way since this happened. I'm not sure why this didn't come up the first time I ran for office," he said. "The only difference between then and now is my stance on the lake park."
Soltysiak is finishing his first two-year term as the 5th District alderman and faces challenger John Engelhardt in the April 3 election.
The group, which lists Aaron Robertson as treasurer, maintained that its objective is "to provide true transparency to the political scene in Muskego."
In its letter, which was sent to newspapers, radio talk show hosts and other media outlets in Milwaukee, Stand Up Muskego included a reference to an incident in 2010 in which Soltysiak contacted police to report a habitual speeder in his neighborhood.
While the group claims Soltysiak chased the car with his own vehicle and presented a "ceremonial police badge" before calling Muskego police, the alderman refutes the account.
"I don't know where that came from, honestly," he said. "I called police first, and got in my car to locate the vehicle that came down the street because it had come close to a group of kids. When I did find the vehicle, it was empty. When the officer came on the scene, that is when the people first came to the vehicle. I did not speak to them prior to that."
As Soltysiak maintained, and Muskego Police Chief Paul Geiszler confirmed, no citation was issued to the alderman. However, the other driver received a written warning for failure to produce proof of insurance.
Rob Lucas, a member of Stand Up Muskego, told Patch on Wednesday that Soltysiak did not provide transparency on this incident or his prior run-ins with the law at a candidates forum on Tuesday night. He said he could not comment on why the information, which was obtained in February, was not brought forward until after the forum, but hoped the platform would have given the alderman a chance to "come clean" on his past.
At the forum, candidates were asked: "Should candidates providing information on previous criminal activity, and is there anything in your past?"
Soltysiak stated his answer to the question was honest, and did not differ from that of other candidates.
"I have no criminal record," he reiterated. "I answered that these things are online, and if there was anything that would preclude me from running for office, I wouldn't be here."
In the meantime, Soltysiak said he is going to remain focused on the issues of the campaign, stating "it's my values, principles and integrity that keep me from stooping to this level of destructive politics."