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Candidates speak out about local issues and how to improve the communities they serve

Candidates speak out about local issues and how to improve the communities they serve Candidates speak out about local issues and how to improve the communities they serve

There are many changes going on throughout the country right now, but commitment to communities and schools remain. As the April 7 spring election nears, candidates share issues they feel are important to local races.

Cadott Village Board – three seats open Bart Chapek (incumbent) Up for re-election, is Bart Chapek, who grew up on a dairy farm by Crescent and graduated from Cadott High School, before enlisting in the Army. Afterward, he attended UW-Madison, then worked for the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, from 1990-2004, as a special agent in Washington, D.C. He left the federal government in 2004, to manage, and later purchase, the family business in Cadott, JLH Enterprises, Inc., which was an adult family home business. After selling JLH in 2017, Chapek currently owns Barton Rentals and Chapek Properties, where he manages and maintains rental houses and apartments.

“I often moved around the country when I was in the Army and when I worked for the government, so it was difficult to become involved in any local community,” said Chapek. “I always said I’d get more involved once I settled down somewhere.”

Chapek became a trustee for the Village of Cadott in 2013, and is seeking re-election, because he continues to believe it’s important to help out in the community he lives in.

“I think one of the most important roles for board members, is to provide answers to others about what’s going on in the village,” said Chapek. “That means the board members need to have a working knowledge of new policies, projects, etc., so we can answer questions anyone may have.”

He also feels trustees need to listen to what residents want and try to resolve any village issues, such as repairing and maintaining infrastructure, especially streets.

“The village board needs to work together with each other and the community, in developing and/or changing policies, and helping to map out the future of our town,” said Chapek.

Chapek says the village needs to take advantage of any available grants, low-interest loans and the establishment of tax-increment districts, as well as attracting additional business and housing, while working closely with the Cadott School District.

“We need to keep the Village of Cadott a nice little town that people want to live in,” said Chapek.

Merlin Huhn (incumbent)

Also running for re-election, is Merlin Huhn, who believes a trustee must listen to village residents, employees and other trustees, to hear what’s happening in Cadott. “From this, you can make suggestions that help the village function,” said Huhn.

Huhn says the village needs to focus on projects that build on Cadott’s wellbeing, with projects that have a longterm gain and looked at closely so they don’t hinder future endeavors.

“I would like to work with the village board and the residents on projects that need to be done,” said Huhn. “I think I can give good ideas that help give different options about the project.”

Huhn says he wants to work with his fellow members to see that the best interests of village residents are met.

“The most important thing the village can offer its residents, is the assets it has, be used efficiently…” said Huhn.

Les Liptak (incumbent)

No questionnaire was returned.

Eric Weiland

New to the races this year, is Eric Weiland, who wants to help and be part of the decision-making process on the village board, on behalf of the residents of Cadott.

“I was born and raised in Cadott, have strong ties to the community, and I am proud to call this town my home,” said Weiland. “As a current firefighter/ EMT, I have a strong passion to care for the residents of Cadott, and keep this community safe. I see this as an opportunity to be able to give back in other ways.”

Weiland says he believes he is a good candidate for the position, because he is dedicated, has great communication skills, can bring new ideas forward as a younger generation resident and can value different views on subjects, without passing judgment.

“If elected as a village board member, my role will be to listen to our community members’ concerns and ideas,” he said, “value different perspectives and work respectfully to come to solutions regarding our community’s needs.”

Weiland says the most important areas the village needs to focus on in coming years, are business growth and property management, and adds he would like to see more businesses come to the community and current businesses to expand. By increasing business growth, Weiland says the village will have more opportunity to update existing structures, roadways, public works and other areas for improvement.

He says Cadott provides a safe area for families to live in, with adequate housing options, as well as a great public education school district. Weiland also says Cadott offers a highly qualified public emergency response system, by having trained professionals in public works, law enforcement, fire department and ambulance services.

“I believe that Cadott has a lot to offer the citizens who reside here,” said Weiland.

Cadott School Board – two seats open Becca Blanchette Seeking election to the Cadott School Board, Becca Blanchette wants to see the district continue to provide a successful and supportive learning environment for its students.

“I was raised in this community, and want to contribute to a strong district for my children and all Cadott students,” said Blanchette. Blanchette says school board members are elected to keep the school on track, by setting policies and monitoring progress of programs in the school throughout the year. She also feels members should corroboratively set goals for the district and review these goals to ensure they are met.

“I think monitoring and adapting curriculum to ensure our students are meeting age-appropriate standards is very important,” said Blanchette. “I also think students and families in our district, should be involved in some type of extracurricular activity, as this grows a stronger community bond, and enriches the students’ connection to the school and community.”

She says supporting district teachers will help to ensure a positive learning and working environment for everyone.

“Most importantly, the school should offer a safe and welcoming place for our youth to get a strong education, while also developing social skills,” said Blanchette. “I think the school should also be a place where the community comes together to support student achievements and engage in fellowship.”

Cedric Boettcher (incumbent)

Serving on the school board in some capacity for 30 years, Cedric Boettcher looks to continue making an impact in students’ lives, with a mission to ensure each student is challenged. Boettcher says he wants the students to reach their full potential in the school district.

Boettcher says the board’s rule is to hire the very best superintendent, set policy, be a sounding board for the district and be responsible to taxpayers.

“Our plan is to set a new strategic plan for the school,” he said. “This will help establish goals for our board and district.”

He also wants to continue to upgrade the school safety plan, and maintain the buildings and grounds. Most of all, Boettcher wants to work on building a culture for learning within the buildings.

Boettcher says the school offers events free to the public to attend, while encouraging and supporting the students. He says a great school makes the community strong and vibrant.

“The most important thing, is to level the field for all students, so they can be successful and become good citizens,” said Boettcher.

Char Seibel

Because she was previously on the board, where there were some hard decisions made, Seibel says as part of the decision making process, she can see where it has made a positive impact on students, staff and community.

“So, I am seeking re-election, because I know what it takes to make hard decisions, in order to keep moving our school district forward,” said Seibel.

Seibel says she wants to work with administration to learn about different issues affecting students and staff, bringing matters to the board to work with administration on.

“I feel that one of the most important things our school should focus on in the coming years, is our curriculum,” said Seibel. “I believe that we should look into what our students will need in the future when they graduate.”

She says she also thinks it’s important to keeping staff engaged and working together.

“The most important thing our school can offer its community, is to get our students involved in volunteer work in our community,” said Seibel, citing it could be students helping with lawn care for people in need, job shadowing at local businesses and participating in work studies. “This will teach students about our local businesses and what type of schooling may be needed to be able to perform that job. By students being able to go out and volunteer, they will have a better understanding of how they can help make our community a better place for all who live here.”

Shawn Spaeth

Running for an open seat on the school board, is Shawn Spaeth, who says he wants to help push the school forward to achieve greatness.

“I also want to be the active voice for the students and community,” he said.

If elected, Spaeth says he will work with his fellow board members and the community, to help get the school to become the best academic and athletic district in Wisconsin. He says he wants to ensure Cadott kids receive the best education they can possibly get.

“Our kids are the future,” said Spaeth. “How we prepare them now, will only help our community in the future. Great schools bring great communities.” Cornell City Council – three seats open, one mayoral seat Bill Kvapil

Seeking election to the city council, is business owner Bill Kvapil, who is running because he cares about the community he makes his home and livelihood in.

“I would like to do my part in helping the city grow, by attracting new businesses and promoting tourism,” he said. “I will listen to the electors and do what I can to make change happen that electors want to see in the City of Cornell.”

As he is recently retired, Kvapil says he has the time available to research and address any concerns of the people he would represent. Kvapil says his role would be to help ensure Cornell is a safe place to live, and that there are opportunities for employment, with businesses meeting the needs of residents.

“I feel the city needs to improve on the streets and give attention to problem areas,” said Kvapil.

With many years of experience and knowledge in road work and city services, Kvapil says he would be watchful of budget efficiency and the use of public dollars. He also wants to see Cornell attract new businesses that provide products citizens want, as opposed to having to travel out of town for such items/services.

“It’s important for the city to have clear priorities and a balanced budget that supports what is important to the residents,” said Kvapil. “A city needs to be able to provide what the residents want for services and act on what it takes to provide those services, with the best use of public dollars.”

Mark Larson (incumbent)

(running for mayor and/or council member) Throwing his hat in the ring for the open mayoral position, is Mark Larson, who is no stranger to the leadership role. In an odd twist, Larson is also on the ballot for an open council seat, after he had already taken out papers for the position, then decided to run for mayor instead.

Larson says he wants to continue working for all the citizens of Cornell.

“I want the citizens to know that when they voice their concerns or opinions, I do hear them,” he said. “I will work tirelessly to make Cornell a great place to live, and to earn the respect of every citizen in Cornell.”

As an elected official, Larson sees his role as one to create a city that is fiscally responsible to taxpayers, while keeping Cornell running smoothly. He also wants to bring more businesses to the city, which creates more jobs.

“We must always keep our infrastructure in mind to keep it working properly,” said Larson. “And I also believe we need to strongly promote our city and surrounding area to tourism.”

Larson also wants to focus on the city’s youth and to help them as they become adults.

“We as a city need to let our citizens know that we are always working to maintain a safe environment for our youth, senior citizens and all families to live,” he said. “And we as community can, and will, continue to make this city a great place to live.”

Terry Smith (incumbent)

Terry Smith is once again asking for votes from his fellow citizens for a seat on the council, even though he had planned not to run for another term.

“I still hope we can change some things and all the apathy around town,” he said.

Smith says he wants to spend money wisely and to keep developing the river walk. He also wants to get more people involved in things, such as holding a quality community fair, Floatilla and working on the bike trail.

When asked to consider what the most important thing the city can offer its community members is, Smith turned the tables.

“I think it should be other way around,” he said. “What can community members offer the city?”

Steve Turany (incumbent)

Running for another term, is Steve Turany, who moved to Cornell in 1987, and says he’s always tried to contribute to the community by being involved in civic groups and the local government.

“I wish to continue that work,” he said.

Turany says elected officials must keep their eyes open and their ears tuned in to their constituents.

“At the same time, they must prioritize items when it comes to spending our limited funds,” said Turany.

He says the city needs to address the sewer plant refurbishment, without going toward “Taj Mahal” plans that are not needed.

“We as elected and appointed officials of the city, must give the confidence and assurance to our citizens,” said Turany, “that we are making the correct and prudent decisions with their tax dollars, for the best results in the City of Cornell.”

Cornell School Board – two seats open Josh Schwingle Vying for an open spot on the Cornell School Board, Josh Schwingle looks to be the voice for the students, staff and parents, while meeting all academic needs for every student, including the sports program.

“My wife and I are very involved with the community, with coaching softball, running CRYF football/poms and three kids in the school district,” said Schwingle.

Schwingle says the community should know that the people they elect for the school board, are making the best decisions for everyone.

“I feel really passionate about the decision making that involves all students, staff and district,” he said.

Stephanie Seidlitz (incumbent)

Seeking to continue serving the community, Stephanie Seidlitz looks to remain on the Cornell School Board, as in the last six years, she says she’s learned so much about the district and what it takes to run a great school.

“I want to continue to be a voice for our community, families, staff and most importantly, our children,” she said. “I have so much passion for the families of Cornell, and would like to continue my role as a Cornell School Board member.”

Seidlitz sees her role as a school board member, as someone who will listen to the concerns of the community, families, staff and students.

“I will ask for input, ask questions and always vote for what is best for our children,” said Seidlitz. “I enjoy talking with families and the students, and sharing their requests and concerns with my fellow board members.”

In the coming years, Seidlitz says she wants to continue focusing on the climate and culture of the district.

“We need happy staff, involved parents and a supportive community to help educate our children,” she said. “Having a great environment is crucial in educating our children.”

Included in incentive events and community gatherings, Seidlitz cites a color run and tailgate party, as ways that promoted good feelings in the school and community.

“I feel the most important thing our school can offer its community, is a safe environment for our children,” said Seidlitz, “and a partnership that allows us to work together to give our families and students, the skills and tools they need be successful members of society.”

Eileen Sikora (incumbent)

After 15 years, Eileen Sikora isn’t burning out any time soon, despite questions of why she would run again with all her children out of school.

“Now, I’m not thinking of just my child,” said Sikora. “They are all my children. I’m looking at what affects the 4K all the way to the graduate.”

Sikora says she wants to do what’s needed, when and where, while listening to all involved.

“The school belongs to the community,” she said. “It’s a reflection of what Cornell is.”

Although declining enrollment is an never-ending problem, Sikora says the district needs to keep students educated and offer classes to make the kids want to learn, which could include co-oped opportunities.

She also wants to see a sense of belonging, as she is very proud of the schools, and wants to continue to promote and serve the district.

“The community should be aware of the happenings at the school,” said Sikora. “The students’ achievements, the goals the teachers reach. These would not be accomplished if not for the community – the taxpayers.”

Lake Holcombe Town Board

No seats were up for re-election.

Lake Holcombe School Board – two seats open Matt Flater (incumbent)

After serving on the Lake Holcombe School Board for the last three years, Matt Flater looks to continue having the opportunity to help his school/community.

“During this time, I have really enjoyed working with administration, teachers, students, staff, community and fellow board members,” said Flater. “We have collectively propelled the Lake Holcombe School District forward, with a clear mission/vision and pride.”

Flater said the Lake Holcombe School District provides a safe, fun and comfortable learning environment for students, staff and community. If elected, he plans to participate in professional development, committing the time and energy necessary to be an informed and effective leader. He also wants to fully understand the Lake Holcombe School District’s vision, goals, policies and challenges.

“I really take a great sense of pride for our school district and community,” said Flater. “Remember, it’s your district and I would be honored to serve you.”

He also plans to work hard to maintain current successes and opportunities, ensuring the wishes of the community are reflected in the management and daily operations of the district.

Looking to the future, Flater says preparing graduates for college or careers with a tool belt of useful tools for the future, can be achieved by managing and approving a fiscally responsible budget, that will provide quality educators and staff, the resources they need.

“The community should always be a part of joint organizations, committees, projects, community education and school building resources,” said Flater. “We have a very unique district. With an open for business/hands-on approach, a strong feeling of ownership and pride should be felt by all. Your community is your school.”

Anneleise Willmarth (incumbent)

If re-elected to the school board, Anneleise Willmarth plans to collaborate with the rest of the members to oversee the district and make certain that desires of the overall community are met.

“As the old saying goes, there is no ‘I’ in team, so my role is to be a part of the team, and share my experience and knowledge to improve the system,” she said. “I joined the board mid-term and have enjoyed the challenge thus far. I’m looking forward to another term.”

As a parent to three children in the district, local taxpayer and business owner, Willmarth feels she represents many groups and voices in the community.

“One of the most important things our school needs to focus on, is training and hiring teachers, to be able to keep up with the ever-changing technology,” said Willmarth, “so all our students are engaged in the classroom and feel their voice matters.”

Willmarth says in addition to providing high academic standards and safety for the district’s children, while staying responsible with taxpayers’ dollars, the school also needs to work on solving the problem of so much student debt, “out of the gate” after graduation.

“The school needs to continue to shy away from traditional education, where it is very…sit down and read, be quiet, don’t ask questions,” she said. “[The] school needs to continually focus on preparing and offering more options for our students for life after the diploma.”

Spring Elections

Matt Flater Anneleise Willmarth

April 7