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Sheriff's official, former Lisbon cop face off

July 29, 2014

Experience, leadership and accountability appear to be the key issues in the campaign for Waukesha County sheriff in the Aug. 12 Republican primary election.

The winner of the contest between Eric Severson, the chief inspector of the sheriff's office, and Tom Alioto, a former Town of Lisbon police sergeant, is likely to be elected in heavily Republican Waukesha County, since there is no Democratic opponent on the ballot.

They seek to replace Dan Trawicki, who is not seeking re-election after serving for 12 years as sheriff.

In addition to being endorsed by Trawicki and District Attorney Brad Schimel, Severson has the support of more than a dozen GOP leaders, including former Gov. Tommy Thompson, former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow, about a dozen GOP state legislators and several handfuls of nonpartisan local fire and police chiefs.

Alioto said he wants to break the Republican tradition of "simply passing the torch to whoever is next is line" and provide the county with a politically independent sheriff with business experience who promises to more aggressively combat the community's drug problems.

Alioto's experience in law enforcement has been relatively short and controversial. As a town of Lisbon police sergeant, he was a central figure in a two-year episode that led to the abolition of the town police force and contributed to four of five town supervisors being defeated in re-election campaigns.

Alioto was also charged with misconduct as a result of the controversy, but the charges were later dismissed. During much of the controversy, Alioto was on medical leave from the department, claiming he was under stress as a result of working in a hostile environment.

The controversy centered around Alioto's allegations that newly appointed Lisbon Police Chief Terry Martarano was "double dipping" by working private security jobs at the same time he was supposed to be working as town police chief.

In addition to Lisbon experience, Alioto lists an associate's degree in criminal justice and various community college police training programs as law-enforcement qualifications.

The owner of a concrete paving company, he said he will bring business experience to the sheriff's office and be more aggressive in combating heroin in Lake Country. He also accused county law enforcement officials of covering up misconduct by employees in the sheriff's department.

In addition to an associate arts degree in criminal justice from the North American Correspondence School, Alioto has attend law enforcement training at Fox Valley Technical College and Milwaukee Area Technical College.

He is a certified fire arms instructor, completed FBI interrogation training and served as the interim police chief for the Town of Lisbon in 2004 and 2006.

Severson has degrees in both communication and lawenforcement from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He is a graduate of FBI Academy and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's Drug Unit Commanders Academy.

He has 28 years experience in law enforcement and has worked his way through the ranks, beginning as a deputy, serving as SWAT, drug unit and K-9 unit commander, patrol supervisor, captain and deputy inspector.

He was recently praised for his sensitive handling of the investigation of a missing Waukesha County teenager, balancing the family's desire for privacy with the media's need for information after the girl was found.

He said he wants to continue the high level of service provided by the sheriff's department while at the same time making some improvements. He said the department has established a good reputation for handling misconduct or disciplinary issues.

He said he has some ideas for how to improve area law-enforcement efforts in combating drugs but said he wants to discuss those ideas with various municipal chiefs before making them public.

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Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

The Art of the Bicycle: 11 a.m. Nov. 21, 26, Delafield Arts Center, 719 Genesee St., Delafield. Diane Lehman, Peter Kudlata and Wheel & Sprocket. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. first and third Saturdays and by appointment, Free www.delafieldartscenter.org.

Organ Concert: 1:30 p.m. Nov. 21, St. Jerome Catholic Church, 995 S. Silver Lake St., Oconomowoc. Oconomowoc Music Club is hosting a concert by renowned organist Dr. Simone Gheller. Refreshments will be served after the concert. Free.

Yuletide Faire: 5-9 p.m. Nov. 21; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 22, Prairie Hill Waldorf School, N14-W29143 Silvernail Road, Pewaukee. $4 in advance or $5 at the door for adults and $1 in advance or $2 at the door for children under 15. Features strolling minstrels and costumed characters, puppet shows, storytelling, candle dipping, face painting, children’s craft workshops, children’s holiday shopping, live music, silent auction, children’s book sale, natural toys, 35 vendors, warm food, homemade desserts, candies, nuts and other treats. 

Fashionable Tidings Gala Luncheon: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 22, Country Springs Hotel, 2810 Golf Road, Pewaukee. Holiday fashions of local clothiers Paul Bruce Goodman and Liebling Leather. Music by Brusubardis String Ensemble. Lunch includes shrimp scamp and angel hair pasta with vegetables provencale. Wine tasting  and auction. Benefits Waukesha Choral Union. $35. Call (414) 297-9310 for tickets. www.choralunion.org.

Updates to this calendar are made weekly Monday afternoon. 

 

All weekend happenings.