In a prepared statement, Ben Wolkowitz explained why he is running for Council and how he believes that the skills the he has developed as an economist and senior financial industry executive can help to address critical issues now facing the borough.
Wolkowitz stated: “When I was first thinking about running, I asked a friend how he felt I should introduce myself to Madison’s voters. The friend responded that ‘you should tell people just what you are: a problem solver who gets the job done.’
This began during my early experience as a graduate student at Brown University and as an assistant professor at Tulane University where I enjoyed solving economic problems with my students. Subsequently, while at the Federal Reserve Board, I did much the same thing. Except there I was leading a team of Ph.Ds in economics and finance, and most of the problems I addressed came from the members of the Board and the Fed Chairman.
I left the Board for the financial industry eventually joining Morgan Stanley, where I became a Managing Director. There the problems were different; they were about establishing profitable businesses and managing large groups of people. But the skills required were much the same, and over my sixteen years at the firm, I started several successful businesses from scratch and also fixed a couple of others.
Following my retirement from Morgan Stanley, I started a consulting firm, Madison Financial Technology Partners, which quickly developed into an active business. I counted IBM, MoneyLine, and the Bond Market Association among my clients.
When my wife and I moved to Madison in 1993, a time-consuming job and long commute meant that my involvement in town was less than I would have preferred. But after I retired from Morgan Stanley, I had more time and began to actively participate in Madison, joining the Rotary Club where I became a member of the Board, and the Great Swamp Watershed Association, where I ultimately became Chairman of the Board.
My interest in the environment led me to consult with the Madison Environmental Commission, become a member of the Madison Sustainable Jersey Team and represent Madison on the Ten Towns Committee.
My primary motivation for being so involved is that I enjoy living in Madison, appreciate its unique qualities, and want to contribute in any way I can to making it an even better place to live. In addition, over the last couple of years I have been very disappointed by many of our Borough Council’s actions, particularly the 2012 budget process and the abortive firing of the borough administrator in February. These are the reasons I am running for office.
I believe that we deserve better leadership and that my many successful years in different work environments gives me the skills to be for Madison what I have been my entire life: someone who solves problems and gets the job done.
But I never solved every problem alone and I typically worked in the context of a strategic plan. For these reasons I will strive to return Madison to a spirit of bi-partisan, consensus government, where everyone works together for the common good. And I will also work to facilitate strategic planning for Madison so that we can effectively restore our aging infrastructure while reversing the trends of higher property taxes and reduced services
I look forward to the upcoming election and together with my running mate, Astri Baillie, we will take our vision of an inclusive, effective problem-solving government to all of the citizens of Madison.”