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Lakeland Times Candidate Profiles

Lakeland spring election, 2020

April 17, 2020 by Brian Jopek

The spring, 2020 general election is, without a doubt, one of the more unusual elections in quite some time. 

The COVID-19 situation has put various governing bodies into a different mode, mostly canceling or postponing various meetings or rescheduling them so they may be held in accordance with restrictions currently in place to encourage, primarily, social distancing, while adhering to state open meetings laws.  

That means several different governing bodies, from school boards to county committees to town boards, have gone to conducting their meetings either by tele-conference or video conference. 

The election process itself has been effected with thousands of people already voting via absentee ballot. 

Still, despite the fact a lot of votes have been cast, The Lakeland Times presents our customary candidate profiles for governing bodies we normally cover. 

All profiles are for candidates in contested races.

In Minocqua, three candidates, incumbents Billy Fried and Bill Stengl and challenger Brian Fricke, are vying for two seats on the town board. 


Town Board

Brian Fricke

In the 1940s, my grandparents purchased property on a small lake south of town and my family has enjoyed it up here ever since. I grew up vacationing in the Minocqua area, cross- country skiing at Minocqua Winter Park, snowmobiling the miles of trails in the area, watching the Min-Aqua Bat water-ski show and the July 4th fireworks, eating at the local restaurants, and taking in all Minocqua had to offer. While at college at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, I met my wife Kim, who grew up in the area. When the opportunity presented itself, in 1997, to move to the Minocqua area we jumped at the chance knowing it was the right decision. My wife and I both love the area, wanted to raise our family, and plan to retire here. We currently have a daughter who is a senior at Lakeland Union High School and another who graduated there in 2018.  

In the past, I have had the opportunity to work in real estate sales, construction, project management, and owned my own property management company. I have earned my MBA in finance and currently I am employed as an analyst with a commodities company here in Minocqua.

I have served on the Minocqua Planning Commission for the past two years addressing the new projects proposed in the town balancing the small town feel against the need for growth.   

I served on the Minocqua Volunteer Fire Dept. from 2002 to 2019. The last two years of my tenure on the fire dept. I served as the treasurer. I was instrumental in the saving the department money in setting up the new station with furnishings, appliances, and AV equipment. I led the search obtaining a winter rescue air boat which resulted in the generous donation we received. I led the team charged with replacing the open water rescue boat which ended up saving the department thousands of dollars that could be used for future needs.   

I do not have an agenda; I just want to serve the community. I think people who know me would agree that I am fair, I respect others opinions and perspectives, am open to new ideas, and am always ready to have a discussion and change my opinion if shown a different way.

Why are you running for election?

It seems like such a different time now from when I first declared I was running for town board back in December.

The world is shut down, and we are in quarantine. Running for town board seemed like such a minor issue in this time until I started to see the struggles of my friends and family who own or work at the small business in town that are shut down during this time of crisis. The people need our support, if we support each other we will make it through this.

That being said, I am running for the town board because I believe it is time for change. I know I can bring fresh ideas to the board. I am not afraid to ask the hard questions or disagree with other board members if I feel it is best for the town of Minocqua.

I am not a long term politician by any means. I am optimistic about the future of Minocqua. My contact with the community, through my volunteer work and other interactions, has allowed me to listen to the concerns and the needs of the people and businesses in this town.   

I believe the roll of town supervisor encompasses the following:

• Listen to the concerns and issues from the town and be willing to make the tough decisions on how to proceed. 

• Balance the needs and wants of the town, then determine how these will affect the town budget and taxes versus the long-term benefit.  

• Be a servant of the people of the town and take their concerns and wishes into consideration. Being a member of the town board does not give one the bully pulpit to push their own agendas.

• Pay attention to the details, but be careful not to overstep their role and be transparent as to how their decisions are made 

• Be open-minded and listen to both sides and make decisions accordingly when serving the community, there is no place for ego or self-interests. 

I know I can do all of those things and have proven it in the past. Members are elected to the board because they are trusted to be fair and make choices that will benefit the town of Minocqua as a whole. 

These are the reasons I am  asking for your vote on April 7.

What specific problems or issues are facing the town of Minocqua and how would you address them?

Fixing the roads need to be made a priority. Right now they are in a sad state. This newspaper even features a pot hole of the week. This needs to change, the roads are an embarrassment. Visitors drive for hours to visit our beautiful town only to dodge potholes. Funding needs to be allocated for immediate repair of the roads and a long term plan needs to be put in place for the maintenance and replacement. There are 160 miles of paved roads in Minocqua and according to town estimates with the current budget it would take 80 years to repave all of them. The PRAT tax (Premier Resort Area Tax) of .05% needs to be supported and the funds collected need to be allocated exclusively for road replacement and maintenance. The roads need to be a made priority in the budget.

The town needs to support the small businesses. The small businesses are a vital part of our community and they need the support of the residents of the area as well as the town. As a town supervisor I would listen to their needs and concerns and then work with them on a solution. Some of the concerns I have heard include; snow removal on the island, supporting festivals to draw tourists, employee shortages, the condition of the roads, and many others. I also feel we need to work with the lakes associations to maintain the waters that are such a big part of the beauty of the area.

Stay safe during this time and give a neighbor a call to make sure they are alright.

Bill Stengl

My name is Bill Stengl, and I’m running to continue to serving as a supervisor for the town of Minocqua. 

I grew up in Minocqua and have lived here most of my life. I attended MHLT and was a 1988 graduate of LUHS. 

I received my bachelor’s degree in business and finance from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. 

My family has owned a marine dealership in Minocqua since 1978 and my role has been general manager since 2002. 

I have served on the Minocqua town board since being appointed to fill the late Bryan Jennings’ seat in 2016 and on the Minocqua plan commission since 2015. 

My wife Britt and I enjoy travel, good food, good friends and of course, our pets Garmin and Lewis. 

Why are you running for re-election?

It has been my profound pleasure to serve as a supervisor for the town of Minocqua for the past three-plus years. 

Minocqua and the Lakeland area has been such a special place for my family since the 1940s and I can’t begin to count the blessings bestowed upon us through good and sometimes challenging times. 

I will always indebted to this community and I try to find ways to give back whenever possible. 

I feel that my skills and experience as a local business person lend themselves toward helping our town government serve the citizens of Minocqua. 

Local government and small businesses share many common assets and providing outstanding to our residents all the while maintaining a balanced budget are skills that I feel I possess.

But more than anything, I feel that I bring a level head and a solution-based approach to the decision making of the town board. It’s my honor to give back to this community any way possible, hopefully in a meaningful way. I hope that the citizens of Minocqua will consider allowing me to continue serving. 

What specific problems or issues are facing the town of Minocqua and how would you address them? 

I’ll list what I feel are the top three biggest issues we are currently facing. 

First, the levy limits imposed by the state, while a good thing overall, make it extremely challenging to maintain our high level of services and extensive infrastructure year after year. 

Many of the town’s costs have risen faster than the increase in our allowed levy of property tax. 

Health insurance costs and road construction costs are two prime examples. 

As a board, we’ve worked extremely hard to maintain a fiscally responsible budget and be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money. 

Like any business or household, there seems to be an unlimited number of places we could spend money but only a finite amount of funds available. 

Large infrastructure projects are always looming on the horizon for the town and right now, it’s hard to see where that money might come from. 

While I was initially opposed to the PRAT (Premiere Resort Area Tax) sales tax extension, I have over time become convinced that it is a fair and responsible solution to help fund many of our future infrastructure investments that will be enjoyed by citizens and visitors alike. 

As a town supervisor, I will continue to support and encourage our state legislature to enact the PRAT sales tax extension to our area. 

I’ll also work to prioritize the projects that will have the biggest bang for the buck, just as any business or household would.

Next, maintaining a strong economic climate in Minocqua is an ongoing concern. 

Our lakes, recreation and natural resources have always been the number one reason to visit or live in Minocqua. 

Tourism and our weekly visitors have always been a mainstay of our economy without question but over the years, the economic impact of seasonal homeowners have become the biggest driver of our community in my opinion. 

As a town, we need to preserve and enhance the attributes of our community that draws the major investments in real estate recreational purchases by our seasonal homeowners. 

Keeping our lakes fun, safe and beautiful is critical to our continued economic success. 

Just as important is finding ways to add legs to our “economic stool.”

We must expand broadband access to more areas of our community so those workers in our 21st century economy that can work anywhere in the world can choose to live in Minocqua and enjoy everything our area has to offer. 

As a town supervisor, I will continue to look for ways to help businesses thrive and our area grow while preserving the amazing reasons we’re all here in the first place. 

Finally, finding enough people to operate our businesses in Minocqua is becoming a huge challenge. 

Notwithstanding the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which I feel will be significant but not long lasting, many businesses have struggled to find the staffing they need to operate at full capacity. 

The strain placed on the businesses operating with less than full staff often results in service levels less than what customers expect. 

That’s a terrible feeling for a business owner doing their best to compete in today’s world. 

I don’t have all the answers to solving this problem but I feel it starts with finding affordable housing for seasonal workers, recruiting staff from all over the world and providing a reason for to choose to come to Minocqua to work and play in the summer. 

Many of these tasks will need to be carried out by the local business community but to the extent possible our town government needs to support these initiatives and remove and roadblocks standing in the way.  

Billy Fried

My name is Billy Fried. I have been coming to the Lakeland area since 1965. 

I moved up to Minocqua and chose to raise my family here in 1988. Father of three, originally from Whitefish Bay, and I attended UW-Stevens Point and UW-Milwaukee.

I have participated and held board positions with many different groups over my lifetime including service organizations as well as most recently MHLT school board and currently town of Minocqua and Oneida County board representative.

Why are you running for re-election?

When you get a board position there is a lot of learning from the start.

Now that I have a solid foundation in my role as a town supervisor, I am confident that I have knowledge of the tools we have to face the challenges we have ahead as a town. I believe we have a diverse board that represents all the interests in the community and I would like to be part of that group again as we develop ways to best use your tax dollars.

I also have the pleasure to represent Minocqua at the Oneida County level. 

Being a town of Minocqua supervisor has great impact on how I can represent the town and bring Minocqua concerns directly to the county. Other townships in our county and the city of Rhinelander are represented by local elected officials. This keeps us on the same playing field and I believe I have had a strong positive impact for Minocqua during my time as a town supervisor.

What specific problems or issues are facing the town of Minocqua and how would you address them?

With current events, a lot has fallen into the background as we all need to work together to readjust and find the new normal.

As I reply to this there is a lot of unknowns, but what is known is that the town needs to maintain its infrastructure, law enforcement/emergency services and public access to the community. The town needs to petition the county, state and federal opportunities to best help out community.

History has shown that when it comes to help from the outside, we must position ourselves to be independent until opportunities come to us.

Revenue limits with rising expenses is a consistent challenge when doing our annual budget. Roads and infrastructure maintenance and improvement are high dollar projects and at some point cannot be pushed down the road. Our challenge coming up is how do we hold or reduce taxes while still moving forward. With we will have to look at refinancing debt with low interest to see if it can free up money to use in the budget to maintain services and move ahead with some needed projects.

Emergency services need to be a priority to keep in place and then we will have to look at what is most important to the town and possibly have to review services or programs that are not affordable right now.

In conclusion, thank you for letting me represent you and I hope I will get the opportunity to continue to serve you.

With ever-changing challenges, I will always seek to make you proud.

Town of Arbor Vitae

In Arbor Vitae, town board incumbents Ryan Johnson and Brian Nerdahl are facing challenges from former town treasurer Barb Freudigmann and town resident Larry Haling. 

Barb Freudigmann

Hi, my name is Barb Freudigmann. My husband and I moved to Arbor Vitae in 1995.  We raised our three kids here, who attended AV-W and LUHS.

My husband is self employed (Northwoods Heating & Cooling). I have been employed at the Marshfield Clinic in Minocqua for the past 23 years.

I previously worked for the town of Arbor Vitae as a deputy clerk, a deputy treasurer and spent over eight years as the town treasurer. In November 2018, my position and hours at the clinic changed — that forced me to give up my position of town treasurer.  

I have served (volunteered) on a variety of community boards in the past years, including the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), Cross Country Cruisers snowmobile club, the Vilas County Recreational Trails Safety Committee and the Arbor Vitae Bike Trail Committee.

I volunteered for many years at Holy Family Catholic Church teaching faith formation to the youth of the parish.

I have created many quilts, pillowcases, and surgical caps that I have donated to various causes around the community.

Currently, I am sewing surgical masks for patients who need clinic services at this time of crisis.  

I spent a great deal of time and effort in hopes of getting Arbor Vitae their zip code back. Unfortunately, I was not successful. My main reason for my concerns about our zip code (other than trying to champion the town’s identity) is sales tax, specifically for those who shop on line. When our residents shop and have things shipped, if they are not specifically identifying that they live in Arbor Vitae at 54568, and just let the retailer use Woodruff at 54568 as their mailing address, those sales tax dollars are going to Oneida County.

So, Arbor Vitae residents, be vigilant! Give Vilas County its due to Vilas County (OK, I’m stepping off my soap box now!)

I have all the qualities to make a great town supervisor. I am eager to serve our community in this capacity.

Why are you running for election?

I have a lot of community experience and I am interested in serving Arbor Vitae residents in the upcoming years.

I am proud to say I live in Arbor Vitae and I want to represent the community in this capacity.

What specific problems or issues are facing the town of Arbor Vitae and how would you address them?

The annual budget, working within that budget, and looking for creative ways to add revenue for the town.  I am interested in gaining education with the Wisconsin Towns Association and exploring what grant opportunities are available to reduce the strain on our budget.   

Lawrence Haling

My name is Lawrence E. Haling. I am a graduate of Lakeland Union High School.

After graduating high school, I joined the United States Marine Corps and served our great country for four years active duty and four years in the Marine Corps Reserve. While serving in the Marines, I was stationed at U.S. Naval Base/Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

I am the Commandant of the Leathernecks of the North, Detachment 353 Marine Corps League in Arbor Vitae. We help active duty service members, veterans and their families.

I currently reside in Arbor Vitae with my wife Amber and our two children Victoria and Lawrence II.

I am employed by the Vilas County Highway Department and have been for just over 19 years.

Over the last 19 years, I have held different jobs within the highway department from plowing county roads to plowing state highways. 

I currently plow State Highway 47 from Woodruff to Hwy. 182. As a leadman for the county, I am in charge of several different jobs that include mastic of roads, limited bridge repair, crack sealing of roads and other construction jobs.

Why are you running for election?

I am running for town supervisor in Arbor Vitae because I feel my background and knowledge of road work within the highway department would be a great asset to the town with the purchase of new equipment, road repairs to include repaving, culvert replacement and the fixing of potholes and snowplowing of town roads.

I am a hardworking individual who is level headed and along with the values that the Marine Corps instilled in me would be a great voice for the taxpayers of Arbor Vitae. 

I am asking for your support and vote on April 7, 2020.

What specific problems or issues are facing the town of Arbor Vitae and how would you address them?

I would say that like any other town, our roadway department is facing issues with our infrastructure of roads. I would like to put in place a plan, maybe a five year plan, to rate all roads in Arbor Vitae and figure out which roads need replacing the most and put them in order of precedence. 

Another problem I see is internet connection or broadband connection to the residents of Arbor Vitae. 

In our current situation with the COVID-19 our kids from grade school to high school are home and many without decent internet coverage, these children are doing homework from home and it is very difficult without reliable internet coverage.

Ryan Johnson

My name is Ryan Johnson and I am running for my third two-year term and reelection for Arbor Vitae town supervisor. 

My wife Norma and I have been married for 19 years this summer and we have four children; Lydia 17, Isabel 15, Owen 12 and Greta 8. We both graduated from Lakeland in 1996 and UW Stout in 2000-2001. 

I have been self employed since 2008 and own Ryan Johnson Carpentry. I proudly am an A+ member of the Better Business Bureau. I attend annual town related workshops that have certainly helped in becoming a more informed government employee. I follow national and state politics daily and love being a part of local government. I am a patriot that believes we absolutely live in the greatest country in the world. I believe capitalism is the greatest form of government and feel bad I need to make that statement in the current political state of our nation. Taxes need to be kept as low as possible so we can spend our hard earned money on things we decide. 

Government spending should consist of providing quality infrastructure and creating a safe community in which we live.

Why are you running for re-election?

The biggest complaint we all hear about is roads. It’s a never ending battle with winter and frost that will never go away in Wisconsin. 

The state just repaved U.S. Highway 51 through Minocqua and look what three years has done to the stretch of road already! I find myself already driving around huge holes by manhole covers and see giant cracks in every direction. 

In 2018, we had a referendum about raising our road budget $140,000, to add to what was for years approximately $240,000. We wanted a bigger step up in improving roads that have increased in repair costs year after year. That referendum passed. Our board drives every road every year and rates our roads. We do our best in replacing the worst rated roads that we can fit into a year’s budget. I prioritize replacing the worst rated roads that affect the greatest number of residents.

What specific problems or issues are facing the town of Arbor Vitae and how would you address them?

Another semicurrent issue northwoods communities are discussing is opening roads to ATVs. 

When this subject began, I was against them. We need to protect what makes the northwoods great and makes this a destination for others. I make my living as do many others by benefiting from summer residents and the economy they bring to our area. The road I travel everyday was the first we opened.

In the two years that Buckhorn Road has been open, I don’t have a single complaint. I have witnessed every single rider follow the rules and speeds posted. By opening all roads I don’t believe we’re going to see machines speed loudly and recklessly, I believe we’re allowing our neighbors and friends leave their driveways to get to trails where everyone wants to ride, not our roads but in trails that travel for dining and enjoying our beautiful Northwoods. 

If or when we have massive issues with abuse and complaints we could absolutely close the roads to ATV travel. Last year we never had one complaint to the town and that certainly deserves a chance to let everyone see these are very respectable sportsmen and women and very quiet machines.

The board has done a great job in making responsible decisions and spending in Arbor Vitae. We have the nicest plow trucks in the northwoods and a rotation in keeping them newer rather than spending thousands on repairing beaters.

We bought a new loader and skid steer in 2019 to keep our new sidewalks cleaned of snow. I believe nothing else is of great need at this time. When spending is needed it is about making sure we’re not adding to debt but managing spending like we do in our own homes.

I support the Arbor Vitae Fire Department growing a substation to better serve our northernmost residents and drop our ISO rating that will in return reduce insurance costs for everyone. 

The department has trucks that can be put in the station so it’s not like we’re starting from scratch. We are pursuing a land trade with the state to obtain property at zero cost. The station would be a heated garage and necessary for a large northwoods. 

Beyond that ... we need nothing. Our town hall is in great shape, roads will slowly be improved but mostly very nice, parks will be maintained for everyone to enjoy. 

I promise common sense spending to keep the quality and safety of our residents. I pledge to keep Arbor Vitae great!

Brian Nerdahl

I am currently on the town board of Arbor Vitae. I would appreciate your vote. I am employed in the financial industry. My wife and I moved to Arbor Vitae in 1983 and lived here ever since. We have a son that was born here and attended the local school system. I am past president of Northwoods Noon Rotary and currently board president of the Lakeland Retirement Foundation, (Generations). 

Why are you running for re-election?

I believe in paying back to the community you live in, that is why I enjoy being a supervisor in the town of Arbor Vitae.

Over the years of serving the voters of Arbor Vitae, I have kept a open mind to the issues at hand. Every one has a right to be heard. I have no specific agenda but have alway listened to both sides of any situation. 

What specific problems or issues are facing the town of Arbor Vitae and how would you address them?

My number one priority is for the safety and well being of the people in our town. I support AV-W School District and Lakeland Union High School, having a great place to educate our children and a reason to live here. We must maintain a town budget that addresses our needs and have equipment like fire trucks and road maintenance equipment that supports our town crew. We have done this over the past ten years with the current restraints on budget increases. Our town is in great financial condition. 

For this reason, I am running for re-election and would appreciate your vote. 

Oneida County board

Of the 21 Oneida County board seats, there are contests for four seats with a total of eight candidates. 

In District 18, the contest is between incumbent Lance Krolczyk, who originally hadn’t planned to run for re-election but is now a formal write-in candidate, and Candy Sorenson, also a write-in candidate. 

Candy Sorensen

My lifelong interest in government, working for candidates of both political parties, plus frustration with the current rancor of partisan politics has led me to run again for the Oneida County Board of Supervisors. 

I have lived in Oneida County for 45 years. My teaching career spanned four decades in both the Rhinelander and Lac du Flambeau Public Schools. 

I am a past member of the Newbold Volunteer Fire Department and a volunteer at Pastime Adult Daycare, Minocqua Public Library, and Campanile Center for the Arts. I am a member of the League of Conservation Voters.

As a former member of the county board, I served on the Commission on Aging, Board of Health, Housing Authority, Social Services, and Family Care committees.

Why are you running for election?

I am committed to striving for the return of local control to our counties, townships, and schools.

Advocating for clean water by saying no to sulfide mining, maintaining the health of our lakes and rivers as the base of our tourism and protecting our wetlands.

Supporting tourism for fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, skiing, biking, hiking, birding, photography, and artistry.

Maintaining services like the Aging and Disabilities Resource Center that keep our aging population thriving and independent.

Encouraging economic development with small businesses and sustainable forest land management to keep our tax levy down.

I am committed to listening and working with residents, county and town board members, and employees. Oneida County depends on good employees to give us the highest quality of government.

What specific problems or issues are facing Oneida County and how would you address them?

Our counties, towns, and schools are under very tight fiscal limits. For a number of years, they have done an excellent job controlling spending but maintaining essential services. However, each year this becomes more difficult. 

If a tax levy increase becomes necessary, I would consider some level of borrowing because, currently, funds are available at very low rates to counties. It is imperative that our reserve fund be maintained. I am especially concerned about maintaining our deteriorating roads, highways, and bridges.

Finally, I will work hard for the people of Oneida County. 

I pledge to put my best efforts into finding commonsense, non-partisan solutions to the issues confronting county government.

Lance Krolczyk

I grew up in District 18 and had the pleasure of roaming our great area in my youth as well as my adult life. 

I am honored to again have the opportunity to represent you. 

After graduating from UW-Madison with a degree in political science, my sales career took me on many ventures around the Midwest. 

Whenever possible, I would venture back to Minocqua and relax in the town that I loved. 

In my mid 30s, I decided to move home to Minocqua and began my community service in the Lakeland area. 

I applied to be a member of the Minocqua Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, of which I am still an active member. 

Why are you running for re- election?

A question was asked during my interview to be a member of the Minocqua fire department: “Why do you want to be a fireman?” My response was “because I am healthy and capable.”

My thought was I am a healthy young man with the ability to help our local department and area and years later, I still feel this way. 

I have been on the board of numerous local organizations and am a current board member of the Minocqua Kawaguesaga Lakes Protection Association. It is in the heart of  District 18. The Minocqua Chain of Lakes is a key part of our local economy. It is a year-round playground for locals as well as out-of-town guests. 

What specific problems or issues are facing Oneida County and how would you address them?

The state of Wisconsin has taken over a majority of our decisions as far as shoreland zoning regulations. 

Oneida County has over 1,100 named and unnamed water bodies. As Oneida County residents, it is imperative that we have a stronger voice in the state to control our lake development. I believe in property rights, but I also believe developing personal property can be done in a respectful way that does not decrease the value, pleasure, and marketability of an adjoining property. 

Other concerns of mine affecting Oneida County are the highway department, mining, and budget. The Oneida County Highway Department continues to grow and has outgrown its current building. The trucks are now longer and stronger, requiring more space for storage and repair. 

It is time to relocate and sell the current location to be used for a better purpose. A new facility would greatly increase the safety of our employees, reduce the cost of heat, and increase the longevity of our county equipment needed to maintain Oneida County.

Mining in Oneida County is also a hot topic whenever it is discussed. As long as we continue to grow and manufacture new products, mining will continue to be an issue. We must support the growth of mining in Oneida County but under strict control and by researching all avenues of production. It is in all our interests to improve and/or maintain our lifestyle in Oneida County. 

In order to do this, we may have to increase the budget in the future. In the past few years I have been impressed with how our Oneida County employees have accepted the role of controlled spending and meeting their budgets. Oneida County is transparent and open to all who have a question with spending or future needs. 

I would appreciate your writing in Lance Krolczyk for District 18 Oneida County supervisor. 

Oneida County

District 11

Robert (Bob) Thome

I have spent the last three years attending county planning & development meetings. 

I have witnessed our county accepting a watered down shoreland protection ordinance, a weak mining ordinance and a delay of over a year in addressing a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (feed lot) ordinance. 

I believe we should be applying best practices, supported by objective data and science, to manage our land, air and water resources.

Why are you running for election?

Citizens should vote for me because I’ll listen to voters, base my actions on constituents’ interests, and fight for local control. Our supervisors have become disconnected from voters and I want to change that. I’m also running because I’m committed to our Northwoods economic success, which is based on our pristine lakes, rivers, and lands. 

Based upon the 2019 Economic Value of Lakes & Rivers in Oneida County, our residential waterfront properties were assessed at $4.2 billion. This represented 73 percent of total assessed value and generated $85.5 million of combined tax revenue, with visitors spending $229 million. Maintaining healthy lakes and rivers is crucial to property values, tax revenues, recreation, tourism and fish/wildlife habitats. It is critical to protect our exceptional water resources. This should be our number one priority. 

I will advocate for stronger shoreline protection ordinances, no metallic mining and adoption of a CAFO ordinance. 

What specific problems or issues are facing Oneida County and how would you address them?

The impending 2020 to 2022 budget crises are as important as protecting water resources. The negative general fund projections for 2021 and 2022 are troublesome. The impact of the coronavirus on our tourism industry this summer is potentially devastating. The county just completed an exhaustive effort to cut programs and staffing to balance our 2020 budget and we are as efficient as possible. 

In the future, additional revenues will be necessary to maintain the services our residents use and value. Some non-budgeted, large capital improvement projects, like the highway facility renovation/relocation, need to be re-evaluated, all options investigated, vetted and postponed until after 2023. 

From 2013-2019, the average annual expenditure for Health and Human Services was $16 million. The current budget is $11.5 million, which is $4.5 million less than average. Budgetary support for these crucial services is essential. We have to address costs related to addiction and the impact on families, including how to support foster care for children of incarcerated or addicted parents, maintaining services for elderly people and examining the availability of low-income housing. We can’t help our vulnerable populations without, retaining, recruiting, and paying competitive wages to those who work with them. 

The county board, moving forward, must make wise fiscal decisions. My training and experience as a CPA and a business owner will facilitate these. I do not support increasing property taxes, however the county needs to find creative ways to generate additional revenue in all departments, for example raising the Health & Human Services Tourist Rooming House Inspection & Licensing fees from $400 to $600, generating an additional $200,000 for every 1,000 permits. There are about 2,500 VRBO/AIRBNB properties in Oneida County. How many of these have gone through the inspection and licensing process and the WI sales tax licensing process? This creative fee example could also be applied to the Planning & Zoning’s Administrative Review Permit process for Tourist Rooming Houses, with similar revenue generated. 

During the recent 2020 budgeting of essential expenditures, the board discussed a $6.3 million capital improvement issue. The board approved $4 million. They had to choose to fund the $2.3 million shortfall with a loan from the state, draw down the general fund, or reject the request and send it back to committee for further study. They chose to draw down the general fund. By definition, essential expenditures take priority. If they exceed the budget, then the initial budgeting process was flawed and should have triggered a more detailed evaluation. Borrowing for capital improvement projects does have its place but must be done with fiscal responsibility. I favor taking a closer look at our revenues, fees and grant programs to lessen the impacts to all county departments. There is no easy solution to this complex problem. 

Our government is never transparent enough. Our representatives must be held accountable for their decisions, but this will not happen until we have more contested elections. 

Robb Jensen (incumbent)

All too often people get elected waving a single banner rather than taking the time to understand the issues and challenges associated with county government. 

I got elected in 2014 not as a rally-cry for a single issue but to learn the nuances of county government.  

I was confident my knowledge of the town of Crescent along with my administrative experience would be well received by other county board supervisors and department heads.  

I have been chosen by my peers to serve as county board second vice-chair and as a member and chair of the public works committee. 

The county board chairman has appointed me to serve on the capital improvement program, funding opportunities, efficiency study and highway facility subcommittees.

Why are you running for re-election?

I have and will continue to dedicate the time necessary to prepare for county board and committee meetings, conduct the research necessary to understand the issues, and ask the tough questions prior to voting on resolutions.

The number 1 challenge facing Oneida County government is COVID-19. The 2020 county budget was developed with a ‘business as usual’ perspective. 

That perspective no longer exists and the county is moving into uncharted waters.

What specific problems or issues are facing Oneida County and how would you address them?

The county’s savings account or the general fund was reduced to a dangerously low level. Any further reductions will impact the county’s ability to borrow. 

Projected revenues more than likely will not meet expectations. The services we provide will need to be adjusted to meet the needs of our citizens. 

County Governance:  “Who is in charge of Oneida County?” The county doesn’t have a county administrator and has an administrative coordinator on paper only. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, our county board chair has assumed many of the administrative duties typically the responsibility of a county administrator. 

The county has operated on an annual planning model. We balance the annual budget, take a breath, and go with the status quo. Creating a culture of ongoing improvement requires strategic planning and transformational leadership. The county needs someone to lead the journey.  

2021 Budget and Programs: The Administration Committee understood, even prior to the COVID-19 economic challenges, the 2021 budget process would either require cutting services or seeking additional revenue through a referendum or wheel tax. 

I am not opposed to cutting programs. However, prior to making these cuts the county must validate its current expenses. Seeking potential private-public partnerships; reducing overtime, comp-time and PTO payouts; and analyzing financing options for unfunded liabilities must be on the table. Maintaining 2020 services without any program cuts will most likely require an operating or capital improvement referendum.  

Capital Improvement Project Funding: The county has been fortunate to fund previous capital improvement projects with general fund dollars rather than borrow. It is highly unlikely general fund dollars will be available to fund unforeseen projects in 2020 as well as in 2021 and beyond.  Financing long-term capital improvements by cutting programs and services is not the answer. Thus, the county will need to consider borrowing options.

Highway Facility: Moving to a new site or staying at the current site is not the issue. Rather, does our current facility enhance and support daily operations, increase worker output and worker safety, and maintain and preserve the life of vehicles and equipment? I believe the overwhelming conclusion is the current highway facility does not provide for these functions.  

Property Rights, Water Quality and Environmental Protections: When it comes to balancing these issues, no one-size-fits-all solution exists. More often than not a person’s position ultimately depends on one’s perspective and personal experience. With all things considered when deciding on an issue, I support property rights.   

Mining & Shoreland Zoning: The guiding principal is for government to “follow the law.” County board authority comes from the Wisconsin Constitution and state statutes. The county’s Shoreland Zoning Ordinance was written to align with the state statutes. Our non-ferrous metallic mining ordinance was developed to not create a defacto moratorium on mining. I have taken the position to support ordinance resolutions that align to Wisconsin statutes.

Open Government: COVID-19 has and may continue to impact the county’s ability to hold meetings and provide the public reasonable access. I, along with all county board supervisors, want to conduct business in an open manner. How we do this via a remote environment remains to be seen.

Oneida County

District 10

Bob Metropulos

The Lakeland Times tried but failed to reach Mr. Metropulos for this survey. 

Both his contact information on the county website, as well as on his campaign registration statement, were either disconnected or email was returned undelivered.

Jim Winkler (incumbent)

My name is Jim Winkler and I am seeking my third term for Oneida County supervisor, District 10, Newbold, and my first term for Newbold town board. 

My wife Kathy and I have been married for 50 years and we have two children, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

I was born in St. Louis, MO, and attended the University of Missouri-Columbia. There I completed my master of science in outdoor recreation/tourism and bachelor of science in recreation/park administration with a minor in forestry. 

I was the Oneida County 4-H Youth Development Educator from 2004-12 when I retired as Associate Professor Emeritus from the University of WI-Extension. I worked 34-plus years as a county 4-H Youth Development Educator in WI (23 years) and MN (11 years).

County committees I currently serve on include: Conservation & UW Extension, Oneida County Fair, ADRC, Health, Veteran/Social Services, Area Tourism & Economic Advisory.

Why are you running for re-election?

If re-elected, I will continue to look at ways to address our size of government. 


What specific problems or issues are facing Oneida County and how would you address them?

Issues The Lakeland Times asked me to address:

Mining: Mining needed to be addressed when the state of Wisconsin updated their mining laws which caused counties to address this issue. Although I am not opposed to mining in general, I am opposed to metallic mining in our water-rich Oneida County. We have an abundance of surface water in our lakes, rivers and streams that must be protected as they are a treasured resource of our county.

Highway Facility: Although I do not serve on that committee, this department is one of our top three fiscal spending departments in the county. As I understand, the size and number of trucks along with the 50-plus year old facility no longer match. This should be addressed. 

Shoreland Restrictions: As part of the Conservation Committee, I don’t think our zoning regulations adequately addressed this issue. The research should be reviewed more thoroughly with decisions made to protect our shorelines and wetlands from development. 

Transparency: I am sure our county can improve, but I think the county board is doing a pretty good job. 

2021 budget: After passing the 2020 budget, it was projected that 2021 would be tight. There are many factors that determine the budget — salaries, health care, projected capital improvements, to name a few. 

The only way to find new money is to raise taxes, find new revenue through grants or reduce government. Most departments operate efficiently, but I have heard from some county members and citizens that a few departments may have some waste. I would like our county to ask each department to reduce by some percentage of tax levy dollars (not grants/other) to begin to address this issue. 

I am concerned about the size of our government and spending in general. I submitted a resolution to set an example and reduce our county board from 21 to 15 in March, 2020, which failed. 

I felt it could have been a cost savings while allowing the board to operate more efficiently.

An emerging issue is our drinking water. Clean drinking water is necessary for survival. The affected city wells in our area have opened an area of concern that the county must address and be proactive to prevent further contamination. 

For our Northwoods to survive, we need a stronger economic base. We must work with our county and local partners to find ways to bring more sustainable jobs to the Northwoods. I am unsure that we can get help or rely on the state.

Oneida County

District 9

Rhody Jakusz

I am married with three sons, two daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren. 

I retired to Pine Lake on property that has been in the family since 1970. 

My experience includes serving on the Portage County Recycling Board, Stevens Point Food Co-op Board, and the Portage County Youth Soccer Board. 

I have coached, refereed and organized tournaments for soccer. I love the outdoors and enjoy the clean air, waterways, and lands of our county and want to protect them for future generations. 

Why are you running for election?

I have two reasons why I am running for the county board.

I thought the board was not listening to the people of the county and was not governing according to the will of the people. I thought I would do a good job listening to what was important to the people and providing a platform for the ideas and concerns the people brought forth. 

I also believe our leaders are better when they are challenged for the offices they run for. I thought challenging the incumbent would give the people an opportunity to hear the candidates’ positions and hold them accountable for actions later taken. 

What specific problems or issues are facing Oneida County and how would you address them? 

I am opposed to mining in the county, respecting the will of the people as expressed in the mining referendum last year. I don’t believe the technology exists to be able to mine without damaging the environment. We need to enact strong ordinances to protect our lands and waterways in the county from long-term degradation in order to deal with any possible future mining projects. 

We have a great natural beauty and clean environment that creates a tourist industry that fuels the local economy. The day may come when we need to consider mining for essential minerals and the county has to be ready with rules that will protect the environment and promote clean water. 

I think it’s time that the county board commission a study on the fiscal needs of the current highway department building and location. I believe we need to decide if the facility is outdated for the current and future needs, if we should continue to spend money annually to make it usable, or if we need to start over at another location and build a building to meet future needs. We may be able to sell the current location to a commercial enterprise to offset cost of a new building, which will also increase our tax base and provide a building to match our needs now and into the future. 

I think shoreland restrictions need to be enhanced to ensure the clean and clear water that is so important to the people and economy of the county. I will work to ensure restrictions meet the threat of future building to protect waterways. We have a great resource in our more than 1,100 lakes in the county that increases property values, promotes tourism, and provides a great place to live and work. 

Oneida County operates under a tight budget. The board has done a good job of maintaining current departments under a strict budget. I also think the board needs to look at the community’s needs and has to explore additional resources to meet these needs. 

I believe we need to maintain separate departments for the Aging & Disability Resource Center, Social Services, and County Extension because of the growing needs of our population. I believe we can’t cut these departments any more as they provide essential services. We may have to explore options including borrowing money or increasing taxes to meet the needs of Oneida County residents.

I think sometimes the board conducts county business without the community being aware of what is happening. I think meetings conducted during the day makes it hard for the community to find out what’s going on. I would advocate to have evening meetings. If we couldn’t move them I would look to have informational meetings held in the evening two days before the board meets so the public could find out what business is to be conducted and give them a chance to provide input and voice their concerns. If I am elected I will listen to my constituents and vote according to their concerns. 

Jack Sorensen (incumbent)

I have lived in the town of Pine Lake since 1992 and the Rhinelander area since 1975. 

First elected to the county board in 2012. Chairperson of Forestry, Land and Recreation Comm. and first vice chairperson of the county board. Also serve on the planning and development (zoning) committee, Oneida County Economic Development Corporation Board (former chair), Tourism Council and Capital Improvements Committee.  

I’m a Vietnam veteran, life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and participated in a fall, 2018, Honor Flight. 

I’m a life member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Hodag Sports Club. I’m a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church, former member Rotary Club, Rhinelander Library Foundation and Governor’s Council on Tourism. Chairperson, town of Pine Lake Plan Commission. Decades of community service and leadership.

I earned both a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in finance and minor in accounting, also a masters of science degree as a school business manager. Both from UW-Whitewater. Owned my own business, Sorensen Appraisal Service, retiring in January of 2019.

Why are you running for re-election?

The first session of the new county board should include education on both the Open Meetings and Open Records laws of Wisconsin. 

I’m very proud of my three “A” and one “B” ratings from local newspapers.

What I bring to this election is proven leadership and a history of commitment to the community.

What specific problems or issues are facing Oneida County and how would you address them?

We need diversity on the county board with more women and younger members. Will try again for late afternoon and evening meetings.

The county highway building is going to require major remodeling costs. Need to have hard numbers on remodeling costs vs. building new. Also need to review cost vs. state aids on doing state highways.

The budget process is the biggest challenge to the county board. County government is limited by cost controls which I feel is to the benefit of the taxpayer. I helped force the county to use $6 million from the general fund instead of borrowing against the future. There is still close to a million dollar balance in the general fund. In the future members of the board have to make hard decisions on cutting marginal programs. 

If we have to borrow in the future we should use state loans.

The state legislature has taken over much of shoreland zoning with no regard to local control. We need to enforce what rules we have left. We have to educate shoreland homeowners on the importance of protecting water quality. I built two waterfront homes and disturbed very little of the shoreland. Neither home had view corridors.

If I have only accomplished one thing in my eight years on the Oneida County board it was the purchase of over 200 acres which completely enclosed two small pristine lakes which became part of the Oneida County forest. The private property owner came to the Forestry Committee which I chair. All along the way I kept the county board informed and when the final vote was taken a super majority (75%) approved the purchase.

Vilas County Board of Supervisors

There will be some new faces on the Vilas County board of supervisors after the April 7 election. 

Supervisors Kim Simac, Todd Achterberg, Erv Teichmiller and Charles Rayala, Sr., have all decided not to run for another term. 

Their seats will be filled by either write-in candidates or others who filed and are unopposed.

However, of the board’s total of 21 seats, there is just one contest this year.

That seat is currently held by Steve Doyen, also Phelps town chairman. His opponent is Conover’s Mary Rasmussen. 

Mary Rasmussen

Following completion of a Soil Science degree from UW-Madison in the late 80s and moving north, I have been an active member of the greater Conover area, building relationships in business, recreation, and community development.

 My volunteer work at both the township and county level yielded valuable outcomes for residents, property owners and tourists. 

With the town of Conover, I have been instrumental in obtaining grants for the volunteer fire department and matching funds for the forthcoming $450,000 Town Park Pavilion.

As a volunteer member of the Vilas County Recreation Trails Planning Committee, I represented equestrians helping to establish the River Road Equestrian campground and associated horse trail system.

I coordinated with other committee trail representatives and county staff for planning county-wide multi-use trails.

 At the close of 2019, I completed a 32-year professional career with the U.S. Forest Service working in the fields of soil science, recreation uses, land use planning, public information, and enhancing government relationships with federally recognized tribes.

I continue to concentrate on managing livestock at my Conover farm by providing horse boarding services and raising grass-fed beef and poultry for processing.

Why are you running for election?

I decided to run for the Vilas County board because of my love for outdoor recreation my background in natural resources.

I feel my education and experience are well suited to adding value to county board discussions and decisions.

The  county economy thrives on tourism and services.

The foundation for this lies in the vast amount of public land (county, state and federal forests) and the high concentration of lakes and rivers.  Sound management practices, protection of land and water resources and public access to these resources are important.

What specific problems or issues are facing Vilas County and how would you address them?

I am very interested in helping to further the county economy by supporting a variety of recreational opportunities and access to public land.

If elected, I would request to be assigned to committees that oversee natural resources. I would work with county staff and the public on addressing management of resources and exploring opportunities.

Steve Doyen

I live in Phelps and I’ve served on the town board for 14 years and have been Phelps town chairman for five years.

Why are you running for re-election?

I’m running for office again to help support both the towns of Conover and Phelps at the county level so their voice is represented and heard.

What specific problems or

issues are facing Vilas County and how would you address them?

I’ve been very involved with the (Torch Lake) campground  and also all of the multiple use recreational trails in the county, trying to keep Conover and Phelps both growing and moving forward. 

LUHS board

On the Lakeland Union High School Board of Education, there are two elections. Two candidates are vying for an open LUHS seat representing MHLT, Shawn Umland and Dr. James Wescott. 

Shawn Umland

My name is Shawn Umland, a 33-year resident living in the MHLT School District.  I taught business education and marketing at LUHS for 32 years. I have, in the past, been involved in the insurance business and currently am a small business owner. I believe my business, education, and teaching background will be an asset to the current board and local communities. As a teacher, I understand how the school system operates and that our goal should be helping students move forward with their personal and career objectives. Providing excellent learning opportunities for all is critical for a successful local and national economy; however it can’t come at any cost. I am a conservative when it comes to spending money; we need to set priorities and get the most out of our tax dollars. Plus, I wish everyone good health during these trying times.

Why are you running for election?

Since I began my teaching career, I have said that when I retire I want to give back to the district that has been supportive of me and the marketing/business and internship programs. It has been an honor to serve the Lakeland Union High School district, working hard for students, parents, and local businesses.

The communities within the LUHS district have been fantastic resources for my and other LUHS programs.

I welcome the opportunity to serve on the LUHS board and make sure the school is transparent with its fiscal spending and budget needs.  

What sort of things do you believe the LUHS district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing the district and how would you address these? 

First, the district does a fine job of supporting the staff as they assist students in working toward their personal and career goals. The District provides staff with necessary technology resources, support for academics, art and athletics. It also aids in emotional support for our youth.

Second, the district has embraced becoming a 21st Century School by providing training, updated technology and other tools to adapt to various learning and teaching styles.  

Next, the district has provided creative solutions to help students succeed, such as resource study halls, and the charter school. 

Finally, the staff has worked hard to meet the diverse needs of our district while narrowing the achievement gap, knowing there is always room to improve.

Education has many challenges today that are not unique to Lakeland Union High School.

First is school safety. We need to ask if our school is the safest it can be with dollars we have to spend on security. Can we secure potential grants to help provide safety measures and create policy to insure a more secure school?

A second issue that is closely related to school safety is the mental wellness of our students. 

It is difficult to find school counselors and school psychologists to meet this need for all students and to get the funding to provide these services.  

Third is meeting the unique needs of our various school populations. With the increase in special needs and autistic students, we must look for grants and other means to finance programs for these students to properly educate the students.  

Fourth, we need to continue to connect with our government representatives to secure more funding for the northern schools to help take the tax burden off our property owners and still provide the educational opportunities our small school offers.  

Fifth, we need to continue to explore new solutions to improve our Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction report card.  

Sixth, we need to create a partnership with our communities and its residents. We need to let voices of students, parents, businesses and all citizens be heard.

Education cannot be done by the school alone. There are issues to education as a whole and I would like to assist the board in making decisions on budget, policies, learning opportunities and resources at LUHS.  

James Wescott

I grew up in a small town, similar to Minocqua, in the state of Maine and attended public schools. 

My father worked in the local paper mill for 40 years. I was the first generation in my family to attend college. Since I graduated high school, through both my educational experiences (B.S. chemistry 1989, R.I.T., Rochester, NY and Ph.D. in organic and polymer chemistry 1993 Virginia Tech), as well as through my professional career, I have had the opportunity to live and work in 10 different states covering a large part of this country. 

These opportunities allowed me to experience a great level of diversity in my life. Each and every experience was very different, but all were extremely character building and many were quite educational.

I also have experience as a director in both business and volunteer organization boards.

I have been a member of the Minocqua community full time for the past seven years when we purchased Minocqua Popcorn. My wife, Nancy, and I currently own and operate Minocqua Popcorn, but I also consult in the natural products industry on a part-time basis advising in strategic, business and technical matters.

My wife Nancy and I raised our two older children in the Madison area, both graduated from Waunakee High School. 

Our youngest daughter is now a freshman at LUHS and our older daughter is currently enrolled in UW-Madison Law School.

Our son is a recent graduate of UW-Milwaukee and currently resides in San Diego where he helps with our San Diego store. We love the Minocqua area and all it has to offer to both our full-time and part residents, as well as to our visitors. 

Why are you running for election?

I want to give back to our wonderful community!

Overall, I have both been very impressed with the quality of education and extra curricular activities that our high school provides and I say this relative to my experiences in Waunakee, which has vast financial resources. 

I have a passion for education, mentoring and teaching. I pride myself in my leadership skills and my willingness to listen and respect all perspectives. 

I am not running because I think we have great problems that need to be fixed or because we need to change any current direction drastically.

I am running because I feel I can bring a sense of energy, passion, strategic vision, wisdom and fiscal responsibility to the board.

Furthermore, I also believe I will bring the board and our community together in a constructive and supportive manner for the future. 

What sort of things do you believe the LUHS district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing the district and how would you address these?

I believe that the LUHS district does many things very well. I say this with respect to many other areas that I have resided.  Our school has to deal with a great deal of diversity in a changing, progressive social world where a large percentage of the community does not have school age children enrolled at LUHS. That alone is a significant challenge for any school board. 

I think they do their best, but I’m sure it’s very challenging. What I can bring is a sense of strategy for the future with leadership in implementation. As an example, I feel strongly that the recent failed referendum was delivered to the voters with the best intent for our community but I feel I can help deliver that message and future financial package to our voters in a positive “what’s in if for me (the voter)” approach. A stronger educational system equates to a stronger community for everyone.

LUHS at large

The other LUHS election is for two at large seats and features four candidates, incumbent Shari Nimsgern and then Heidi Fink, Brian Jackson and Mark Pertile. 

All four made it through a February primary that narrowed a field of six candidates to the current four. 

Nimsgern and Fink chose not to update their responses from February but Pertile has revised his answers. Jackson was also asked if he’d like to revise his answers but didn’t respond. 

Mark Pertile

I grew up in the quieter side of the Northwoods and am a past attendee of LUHS from 1990 to 1994.

After high school, I received an associate’s degree in civil engineering from Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire. 

I worked in the Wausau area for 15 years for an engineering firm until the fall of 2014.

At that time I was offered the position of public works director for the town of Minocqua.  

My family moved up to Minocqua the spring of 2015 at which point our oldest daughter transferred from DC Everest School district to LUHS in the middle of her freshman year.  Our oldest daughter has now graduated from LUHS and is in the Air Force.

Our other two children currently attend MHLT.

Why are you running for election?

My focus is to create a learning environment that prepares kids for the real world.

Fundamentally, our kids have challenges with general life skills, even after completing high school. I believe there is plenty of room for adapting curriculum programs to prepare students not only for successful work opportunities after high school but also for making correct career choices for secondary educational advancement.    

Creating a better learning environment will be a high priority. The goal will be to recruit, train and retain excellent staff at LUHS. 

Our students need to see consistent faces in an educational program. Not only does this provide a sense of security for our students but it also builds relationships that foster learning. 

Budgeting ... setting realistic priorities that benefit learning opportunities for student growth. Evaluate more thoroughly infrastructure spending to get the most value for our dollar. 

I want to ensure taxpayers get the best return on our dollars spent.

Community and safety... look at ways to allow the taxpayers access to LUHS facilities and creating a more open and inviting atmosphere to the school while maintaining a safe facility.   

Extra-curricular activities ... supporting programs that give opportunities to build team and character skills.

What sort of things do you believe the LUHS district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing the district and how would you address these?

Fiscal responsibility, in my opinion, is the biggest challenge for LUHS.

I would consider prioritizing student programs that will help lead to success after graduation while also taking into consideration infrastructure and maintenance.

I also think that delivery of curriculum should be in more than just one mode. Having a multi-modal delivery system of learning will allow the school to adjust quickly during certain situations which may require an extended school shut down.  

Brian Jackson

Family focus: Married to Melissa Doud with five children, Grason 8: Alton 12: Maquain 19; Misha 24 and Marquis 26.

Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Tribal member, Master of Ed University Minnesota (current Doctoral Candidate) in Indigenous Education Teaching & Learning at the University Minnesota.

Veteran of the Army National Guard.

Employed by the Lac du Flambeau Public School as the Behavioral Health Director — Cultural Connections American Indian Studies Act 31 team.

Lac Du Flambeau Certified Family Circles Facilitator — Trainer. 

Current Wisconsin Indian Education Association President and part of WIEA board since 2005.

Elected to National Indian Education Association Board in 2018. Grass & traditional dancer.

Why are you running for election?

I believe with 23 years of American Indian education experience, I can help strengthen and build on efforts for relationships.

Furthermore, with an enrollment of 189 American Indian students, it’s important students & families are represented and see a reflection of themselves.

What sort of things do you believe the LUHS district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing the district and how would you address these?

 I believe LUHS is committed to technology, achievement gap and strengthening collaborative efforts. 

How many communities have been visited on the strategic vision of LUHS?

Heidi Fink

I’m Heidi Fink and I am running for LUHS school board.

I would be a valued member of the board because I am passionate about the success of our schools, community, fiscally responsible and seek out the “true story.”

Born and raised in the Lakeland area, attending AV-W Grade School and Lakeland Union High School. 

My husband Michael, and I are LUHS alumni as are our boys: Brian, Andy and Davey.

My work experience includes employment at a local bank for over 10 years and currently work with my husband and sons at our local business, Fink Brothers. 

Over the years, I have willingly dedicated much of my time to support area community groups. 

While my children were attending AV-W grade school, I volunteered in many capacities, was actively involved in the Parent Group and attended many school board meetings.

During the year the referendum failed, AV-W was forced to cut all extra-curricular activities.

Together with several parents and community members, we helped raise over $30,000 during a four-month period to cover various costs, including sports activities. 

When my children were students at LUHS, a task force was developed consisting of students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members. 

This task force dissolved and became Lakeland Proud, a group of people who were willing to help wherever needed. 

Two years ago, I helped with the creation of the LUHS Alumni Small Business Owners Scholarship which specifically is meant for a LUHS graduate who has plans to attend a tech school.

I will soon begin my 18th year as a WIAA Varsity Volleyball Official and continue to attend many T-Bird Basketball games. 

Why are you running for election?

I am a firm believer that the only way to get the right answer is to ask the source. 

On several occasions, I have found myself sitting in a principal’s office asking questions of circumstances of which others had different interpretations. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Szews and Mr. Updike and talk about the support our local businesses give towards Lakeland High School.

What sort of things do you believe the LUHS district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing the district and how would you address these? 

I have always taken pride in Lakeland Union High School and the Lakeland Community as a whole. My hope is that all who come to LUHS will have a positive experience whether you are a student, parent, staff member, volunteer, community member or visitor.

If I am elected to the school board, I know it will be a learning experience and I’m ready for the challenge. I will do my best to listen, ask the right questions and be fully informed prior to making any decisions.

Shari Nimsgern

I’m Shari Nimsgern, wife, mother, educator, business owner and community volunteer. I’ve been a part of the Lakeland community for the majority of my life.

I have been a steadfast advocate for advancing the educational opportunities in the Lakeland area for all youth. 

I previously served two terms as president of the AV-W Parent Group and currently am finishing my third term on the LUHS Board. 

I have enjoyed being a part of and involved in the many positive programs and services LUHS has offered its students and community members.

My husband and I have been married for 37 years and together have raised our seven children. All seven children attended LUHS and, as of June of this year, all will have graduated from LUHS. 

The youngest will be heading to college in the fall. The others have all received college degrees and currently two have earned their Masters. 

I believe LUHS provided the opportunities, experiences, and knowledge for all of them to be prepared and to pursue successful, yet diverse, career paths. 

All of them also participated in extracurricular activity offerings which furnished them a well-rounded education.

Why are you running for re-election?

 I am running to ensure that exceptional educational opportunities and offerings continue to advance the future for students of all abilities and socio-economic status.

I also recognize the LUHS facility as a community gathering place and want to see it maintained to the highest standards and be accessible to all.

What sort of things do you believe the LUHS district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing the district and how would you address these?

LUHS is faced with the constant need to upgrade equipment in order to keep up with new and innovative technologies in all disciplines and the professional development for the LUHS exceptional teaching staff. I will make certain that the administration continues to be open and transparent about spending needs and I will hold them accountable for their expenditures and decisions on operational and capital projects.

Administration has projected future budget shortfalls due to declining state funding and other revenue sources. Passing the referendum will give LUHS a buffer against rising costs and will help fund operational and capital needs that LUHS will soon be facing. I will strive to uphold the highest standards of education at LUHS and the limited taxpayer dollars.


There are three candidates for two seats up for election on the MHLT board of education, incumbents Mary Whitman and Joan Christgau along with challenger Will Tippett. 

Will Tippett

Hello, my name is Will Tippett. I grew up in a small mining town in Michigan’s upper peninsula and have been living in Minocqua with my family for 4 years.

After 9/11, I joined the National Guard serving my country for nine years, during that time serving one tour of duty in the Middle East and two years as an instructor for deploying service members at Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy.

My studies took me to NMU for business, and UW-Oshkosh for Human Services Leadership Development.

I own and operate Lakeland Natural Medicine, a network of natural medical providers in Minocqua, am the practice manager for Seasons of Balance Family Acupuncture in Minocqua and do work with individuals, businesses and executives in the development of individualized leadership development strategies.

I also sit on the board and coach for the local soccer club.

Why are you running for election?

I am running because I care.  Our kids deserve the best possible foundation to build on for the rest of their lives, and I will ensure that the MJ1 School District continues to strive for excellence in that way.  My oldest daughter is in second grade, the middle boy is in 4K, and there is one more to follow, so my vested interest in MJ1 is also personal.

What sort of things do you believe the MHLT district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing the district and how would you address these?

I think the problems facing MJ1 are the same as in most schools.

Teachers need to feel secure in their jobs in order to be the best educators they can and pupil services programs don’t get the support they need for children to achieve the highest possible outcomes.

To ensure the school is the safest possible place to learn, I will oversee the speedy implementation of the school safety plan, create a link between teachers and the school board so their voices are heard with anonymity and make sure our pupil services programs are fully staffed with the best possible candidates.   

Joan Christgau

My name is Joan Christgau. I live in Minocqua and am running for my third term on the MJ1 School Board. 

I have lived in the Lakeland area since 1982. I also served on the North Lakeland school board for 6 years when we lived in Boulder Junction.

I live with my husband Jay and my two dogs Tator Tot and Cassy Role. I have two grown children, Mali and Sam, and six adorable grandchildren with another on the way.

I have been running my own painting business called “Creative Wallternatives” for 20 years now. I painted a lot of the indoor and outdoor murals in this area including the ones in down- town Minocqua.

Why are you running for re-election?

I am running for school board again because I believe in doing whatever you can to give back to the community. 

With all my experience of raising two children, running my own business and being on school boards for 12 years, I have learned a lot about what it takes to listen to both sides of an issue before taking any action.

In my opinion, poor communication is what creates most of the problems in our lives. I have often tried to step in if I feel like someone is being misunderstood.

What sort of things do you believe the MHLT district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing the district and how would you address these?

From the many years of my involvement in MHLT I have seen a very caring, dedicated, enthusiastic group of people that range throughout the entire staff.

They truly want what’s best for the children.

The key is to give the kids the very best education and opportunities and yet be fiscally responsible. This is very hard to do. I try to listen to what the staff proposes and then remember that I have been elected by the tax payers to guide their money in a respon- sible way.

Mary Whitman

I have lived in the Lakeland area for over 50 years. During that time, I was a family and consumer education teacher at Lakeland High School for 40 years, a career I enjoyed immensely.

I also own a business and have been on the MHLT board of education for over 30 years.  

Why are you running for re-election?

I am running for office because I believe my experience as an educator and business owner gives me a perspective that is valuable to the school district.

I think I have served the constituents well and I would like to continue.

What sort of things do you believe the MHLT district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing the district and how would you address these?

I think MHLT does many things well. The model MHLT has adopted of building relationships one student at a time has been very successful. 

We are continuing our partnerships with students, families and our communities.

Our teachers work hard and are very dedicated. We have high academic standards, and have been successful in achieving them.  

Funding is always a challenge for school districts. We are using every avenue possible to get more dollars for our district. 

Another challenge we face is to insure that we reach all students, no matter what academic level they achieve at. 

Mercer school board

There are five candidates for three seats — two three year and one single year — on the Mercer school board. 

Two of the candidates, Sue Loth and Jeff Nehring, were appointed to complete the terms of other school board members who’d resigned for various reasons. 

Another candidate, Deanna Pierpont, has been on the school board previously. Henry “Hank” Joustra and Brian Baltz are newcomers.  

Hank Joustra

My wife Kelly Joustra and I are Mercer High School graduates, business owners, tax payers and parents of three Mercer School students, Hana, Benjamin and Levi Joustra. Kelly and I grew up in Mercer and moved away to pursue careers that fortunately brought us both back to Mercer in 2002 after moving to Milwaukee in 1997. 

Since being back, we have accomplished much individually and as a family. 

I Joined Mercer Fire and Rescue in 1996 and again in 2002 where I am now second lieutenant. 

I am a business member of the Mercer Area Chamber, have been on the board since 2010, have been the president for just over the past four years. 

I am a business member for the Mercer Area Snow-Goers, on the board since 2012 and am currently the president. I also sit on the building and grounds committee for the Mercer School District and assist with a few other community events. 

Recently, Kelly and I have taken the schooling to become EMT’s for Mercer Area Ambulance and are both currently working with their amazing staff serving our community.

Each one of these organizations takes time, however, they are all a key part of our community and my family. Activities such as driving the fire truck in the Fourth of July parade, to putting on one of the best firework shows in the state, to having our children’s pictures on the cover of the Mercer Area Chambers visitor guide with Claire de Loon, to grooming snowmobile trails on a Friday night and selling raffle tickets on Saturday morning; we do these tasks as a family. 

Why are you running for election?

So why the school board? Two reasons, first and foremost is for the kids. 

If I am elected, I will make all decisions with the best interest of the students in mind. Whether it is distant education, classroom safety, or staffing, the students are affected. Their best interest should and will be first and foremost with every decision I am a part of. 

Secondly, is simply being part of the community. Our school completes this town! I want to continue to make every organization I am involved with vital part of the community. 

I believe that I can help make that a reality with Mercer High School. My dad and I are graduates of Mercer School and soon my kids will be as well. How cool is that? That is what makes out town a strong community! 

As a member of the school board, one has to make difficult decisions in an effort to make the school the best it can be, and I am willing to be involved in doing just that. 

What sort of things do you believe the Mercer school district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing the district and how would you address these?

I will keep an open mind, listen to concerns as well as do the research needed to make informed decisions. 

I will keep students, staff, parent’s and taxpayers in mind with all my decisions never losing site of the students having the chance at getting the best education they possible can.

Please consider Henry R. Joustra on April 7 for Mercer School Board.

Brian Baltz

I am Brian Baltz and I am excited to be running for the Mercer School Board.

I am reaching out to you and asking for your vote on April 7, 2020.

My education includes a Bachelor of Science in Business and a Master of Business Administration (MBA).  I have also completed the United States Air Force Air Command and Staff College and several advanced professional certifications.

I have served in various leadership roles in manufacturing, healthcare, utility, defense and technology industries.

I have taught undergraduate business programs at the collegiate level. I am an Officer in the United States Air Force with nearly 27 years of service to our country. Currently, I serve as the senior intelligence officer at Joint Force Headquarters/Alabama National Guard.

Why are you running for election?

I am pursuing this opportunity because I want to work with our community and leverage my education and experience to improve the Mercer School District. 

Mercer is my family’s home and my daughter is currently attending Mercer School. I have been an active volunteer for the past eight years. I have donated my time and experience to mentor Mercer high school students as they prepare to enter the workforce, or to pursue post secondary education.

What sort of things do you believe the Mercer school district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing the district and how would you address these?

There are three initiatives I believe are important for the future of Mercer School.  First, the Mercer School District must have a strategic roadmap.

I believe it is important to have a clear path forward, understand the resources required to accomplish the necessary objectives and how we will achieve measurable results. The roadmap will help the Mercer School District plan for its future.  

Second, our teachers are the fabric that make this school successful. I want to understand what roadblocks are currently preventing our teachers, administration and staff from providing the highest level of student achievement.

It is my intent to ensure all teachers have the required resources and support to educate and prepare all students for post high school opportunities.

Finally, it is important to define Mercer School District’s technology requirements and have the appropriate infrastructure in place.

Collectively, this will enhance the effectiveness of instruction, security and safety for our students, teachers, staff and administration.

Education and technology is an integrated relationship and the Mercer School District must have a clear way forward to enhance this capability.

I believe the Mercer School District Board, teachers, administration and staff have done a great job proactively managing the recent COVID-19 challenge.

In minimal time, they were able to pivot and move an entire district from a traditional classroom model to a virtual learning environment.  As a parent, I was pleased to observe that my daughter was engaged in the virtual learning process and how supportive the teachers are during this change.

I also believe the Mercer School District has strongly encouraged community involvement. 

As a community member, I have participated on the strategic planning committee. it was very inspiring to meet Mercer residents who care deeply about the school and the students.

I want to continue and encourage our Mercer residents to actively participate in school events.

There is an abundance of community talent that can add value and improve the Mercer School District.

I look forward to serving on the Mercer school board and I would appreciate your vote and support on April 7. 

Deanna Pierpont

My name is Deanna Pierpont and I am asking for your support to be elected to the Mercer School Board.

I served on the Mercer School Board (2009-2019) and on the Nicolet College Board of Trustees (2011-2014).

My husband, John (JP) and I love our Mercer community, its residents and the generous support our taxpayers give to “the small school with a big heart.” 

We have been your neighbors and taxpayers for 57 years having raised both of our children, Renee and John, here. They attended and graduated from the Mercer Public School and graduated from the University of Wisconsin.

My husband and I worked with some forward thinking residents to bring the Mercer ambulance and the Mercer Sno-A-Go-Goers, as they were called, to our small town.

I taught Red Cross first aid courses through Nicolet College to most of the ambulance squads in the surrounding areas in their beginning days.

During my 9-1/2 years on Mercer’s board, I saw Mercer student’s earn the Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) School of Distinction for 9 consecutive years along with being awarded the DPI’s Spotlight School for the last two years of that program’s existence bringing thousands of dollars in grants to the Mercer School. The Spotlight award recognized Mercer school as one of the top schools in the northern part of the state. In addition to being a DPI Wisconsin School of Recognition, the school had to demonstrate documented success in two of six designated “spotlight areas.”   

Mercer School was chosen for its success in teaching and learning as well as in leadership and governance and was the only school in the state to be recognized for leadership and governance.  All those successes can be attributed to the positive attitudes and possibility thinking leadership of our staff, students, parents, and the Mercer community. The Mercer School is a positive, safe, friendly, and welcoming environment. Community members are encouraged to come and use their community school’s exercise room and take part in our community pickleball on Saturdays.  

While working for you, I donated my last year’s school board pay and with the help of the Mercer Lions, Lioness, and several generous people, we purchased portable walls that are used in the school for different purposes. I am a member of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) and served on the WASB Policy and Resolution Committee for four years working with our lobbyists to help our politicians give direction to Wisconsin’s Public Schools.  I was the Mercer School’s WASB Delegate Assembly member and helped shape the policies and regulations that guide our association to help schools in all educational endeavors. Since the Mercer School has not had an active delegate since I left the Board last year, I would be glad to do that again. Being a Level 5 WASB Certificate of Achievement recipient that was earned by taking advantage of professional development opportunities demonstrating a high level of commitment to Wisconsin public schools, I am now qualified to mentor other school board members in Wisconsin’s schools.

Why are you running for election?

I have continued to stay active by attending all school board meetings, supporting all student activities, and serving on the Mercer School strategic planning committee.

What sort of things do you believe the Mercer school district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing the district and how would you address these?

The Mercer School has an advantage being a small school. 

When changes have to be made, the staff can do it very quickly and they do it efficiently.

During this COVID-19 crisis, the staff moved quickly to adapt online classes so that Mercer students could continue their education while social distancing.

Mercer’s administrator had a health issue and his absence this school year has been felt by staff and students. They are looking forward to his hasty return. I’m looking forward to working with the new board to address the complicated issues of recent times.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sue Loth

Hi, my name is Sue Loth, and I’m running for the Mercer School Board. I was appointed to the Board in April, 2019, and would like to continue.

I have lived in Mercer for six years. My background is that I am a former educator. I taught secondary social studies at Racine Unified School District for almost 20 years. I was also a small business owner for seven years. I would like to apply these experiences with the school district of Mercer. 

Why are you running for election?

I am passionate about the qualifications and the future of ALL students that graduate from Mercer School. Consequently, I want the college bound students to be prepared. I am also supportive of alternative education for students who are not college bound. Ideally, these young people will be trained, stay in Northern Wisconsin, and contribute to the local economy.

What sort of things do you believe the Mercer school district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing the district and how would you address these?

I would like to continue the transparency the board has exhibited since I have been a member.

I would also like to continue the pattern of being fiscally responsible with the taxpayers’ money. I support the vision of the 2020 strategic plan that is success together.

This means that the education of our students is a shared responsibility of the home, the school, and the community.

I would appreciate your support, and your vote on April 7. Thank you!

Jeff Nehring

I am Doctor Jeffrey Nehring and have been the dentist in Mercer, Wisconsin for the last 40 years. 

I recently sold my practice and intend to stay in Mercer to enjoy my new found freedom and semi-retirement.

Why are you running for election?

I am running for the school board at this time because I feel we need to improve on the educational opportunities for our students. 

I have many years of board experience, having in the past been on the Mercer school board for 12 years. 

I also have experience as the chairman of the Grandview Aspirus board for about 15 years, so feel I am well qualified to add some positive leadership to the Mercer School board.

The past several years the board has been caught up in a very negative conflict that really distracted the board from addressing the educational needs of the students.

If elected it would be my goal to manage the budget effectively, and transparently. 

I have been on the board for about six months and I believe a lot of positive changes have already been made. 

Getting the budget right will allow the board time to discuss what is really important, the education of our children. 

We are preparing our children for a future that is ever changing as we can see with the current health crisis. It’s imperative that we prepare our children to think critically and be able to differentiate fact from fiction in this new ever changing social media environment.

What sort of things do you believe the Mercer school district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing the district and how would you address these?

Mercer School and staff have always done a good job of making our children feel welcome and providing them with a good education. 

We need to continue with this type of culture and implement the process of continuous improvement.

I am deeply invested in Mercer and believe that, if we are going to be in the business of education, we need to get it right.

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