Marathon County Board
Three west county incumbents will challenged in April 7 vote
Voters in three local western Marathon County districts will vote to choose supervisors in contested races on Tuesday, April 7.
In District 29, incumbent Jim Bove, town of Cleveland, will defend his seat against challenger Chris Dickinson, Stratford. The district includes the towns of Cleveland (Ward One), Eau Pleine and McMillan (Ward One), the village of Stratford.
Ron Covelli will challenge incumbent Tim Buttke who now represents District 33 (Town of Stettin Wards One and Two; the village of Marathon City). Buttke seeks a third term on the board.
District 35 voters (towns of Emmet Ward Two, Marathon and Mosinee) will choose between incumbent Jacob Langenhahn and challenger Will Litzer. Langenhahn is running for his fourth term on the board.
Candidates in these races are profi led below.
Jim Bove, raised in the Minneapolis suburbs, has earned degrees at UW-Marathon County, University of North Texas and the Devry Institute. He served four years in the Navy as a Seabee. Now retired, Bove worked as an electronics specialist for DSC Corporation. He also worked for Fidelity Investments, H& R Block and Data Flow. He was married in 1992 and is a past master gardener.
Bove said he has three priorities to work at should he be elected.
The first, he said, is environmental repair. “Cleaning up the lakes and streams is a big thing for me,” he said.
Bove said he supports county farmers planting cover crops and using no-till planting techniques to reduce soil erosion and, in turn, phosphorus pollution of local water bodies.
He said he would vote to curtail winter spreading on liquid manure on frozen or snow-covered ground. “You need a certain amount of regulation,” he said.
A second priority, he said, will be to keep the current 38-member county board and resist efforts to make it smaller. He said a smaller county board would be more Wausau-centric and that rural residents would get shortchanged.
A third priority will be to provide broadband access to county rural residents. He said that better rural internet access will help farm-based and other businesses and would prove vital to rural students trying to do homework online.
“Yes, you will have to spend money to make broadband happen, but it will pay back in the future,” he explained.
Bove said he supports applying for state and federal grants to offset the local cost of greater broadband coverage.
Chris Dickinson, a New Jersey native, moved to Stratford in 2004. He is married and the couple have five adult children. Dickinson studied meteorology at Rutgers and served three and one half years as a weather forecaster working at the Pentagon. Moving to central Wisconsin, he has worked for Schwann’s and the Marshfield News-Herald. For the past 11 years, he has worked as a senior solutions analyst for Marshfi eld Clinic. Dickinson served seven years on the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church pastoral council and nine years on the Stratford Board of Education.
The candidate said he is running for county board to continue his public service past his work on the Stratford school board.
“County board seems a way to affect more people and to do my part,” he said.
Dickinson said he has a “moderate conservative mindset” and believes that “a cooperative attitude has always been a priority.”
He said better funding the Marathon County District Attorney’s Offi ce is an important priority, as is expanding rural internet access. He supports county programs that address the mental health needs of people, including those caught up in the criminal justice system.
“I do believe mental health is very important in the county and something we need to look at,” Dickinson said.
A lifelong resident of the town of Stettin, Tim Buttke graduated from Wausau West and later from UWRiver Falls with a degree in agriculture. He farmed for 12 years and later went into banking, first at Farm Credit Service and currently at Nicolet Bank, Wausau. He is married and the couple have two adult children. He is a past president of Trinity Lutheran Church, town of Stettin, and currently serves as Stettin town chairman.
If re-elected, Buttke said he would like to complete county board “unfi nished business” including the extensive remodelling at North Central Health Care and Mount View Care Center.
He said he was proud that Marathon County has a “very solid” financial situation as reflected in a top tier Moody’s bond rating.
“We’ve always done well,” he added. “Even though state funding has eroded over time.”
Buttke said there is more to government, however, than balancing the books. He said he would like to see Marathon County offer cultural events that would persuade young people to live here rather than in the Fox Valley or Minneapolis.
“We want this place to be desirable, to offer a good quality life,” Buttke said.
Buttke said he wanted to see the county board be “more inclusive” and involve more women and people of other cultures.
“As a middle aged white male, my group is very well represented on the board,” he said. “We need a different dynamic and in a good way.”
Ron Covelli, a native of Sidney, Ohio, served in the Air Force as a pneudrolics specialist for four years as a non-commissioned officer. Moving to Wausau in 1987, he worked 32 years for Jarp Industries, Schofi eld, and is now employed at Waukesha Bearings, Antigo, as a quality engineer. He is married with six children. He belongs to the American Society of Quality, the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Wausau, and the American Legion Post 10, Wausau. He is a past soccer coach, foster parent and foreign exchange parent. Covelli said he is concerned about overcrowding at the Marathon County Jail and, besides giving more help to the district attorney’s office, said he wants to “address the underlying issues” of why so many people go to jail.
He said better funding for the DA’s office is good, but only “a Band-Aid” on the county’s criminal justice system.
Covelli said he supports improving county telecommunications so people will be able to call 911 and get emergency aid, but he also wants to make sure spending to improve telephone and internet service is appropriate.
“Definitely, something should be done,” he said. “But we should make sure we spending our money wisely.”
Covelli said he wants to be on the county board because he likes Marathon County.
“I really enjoy Marathon County,” he said. “I think Marathon County is one of the best places I’ve been to.”
Jacob Langenhahn, a lifetime resident of the town of Marathon, graduated from Marathon High School and UW-Marathon County. He went on to earn a degree at UW-Stevens Point and is finishing a masters degree program at UW-Oshkosh. He works for Mosinee School District as an administrative assistant to a high school principal.
As a supervisor, he chairs the Environmental Resources Committee (ERC) and is a member of the Executive Committee and the Rules Review Committee. He is a member of Mountain of the Lord Church, town of Rib Mountain.
Langenhahn said his “high priorities” align with the county’s strategic plan to make sound land use decisions and protect groundwater. He said the ERC and county staff have a good process in place to review zoning requests and ordinance changes. He said the committee recently helped give Marathon County residents “good government” in making changes to its land division ordinance. One notable change is to make developers be more explicit in stating who will improve roads when land is divided.
Langenhahn said it is important the county improve natural resources by working with farmers to address runoff but also non-agricultural sources of water pollution.
The incumbent said a balanced budget is a high priority and that he wants to “keep borrowing to a minimum or nothing at all.” He said he supports innovation that cuts county costs, such as giving supervisors computer tablets to use.
Langenhahn said the county needs to improve landline phone service but also internet access. He said people should not be without a way to contact county dispatch for emergency help.
“We need to guarantee the personal safety of residents,” he said.
William Litzer, a lifetime resident of the town of Emmet, is a graduate of Marathon High School, UW-Marathon County and UW-River Falls. He works as an equipment slicer at Marathon Cheese Corp., Marathon, and as a laborer at Litzer Dairy, town of Emmet. He is finance committee chairman at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, town of Cassel, president of the Edgar FFA Alumni, a director for the Marathon County Farm Bureau and director for the Dairy 5K run at the Northcentral Wisconsin Steam and Gas Engine Show. He runs in local races for Wisconsin Team Beef.
Litzer supports reduction of the county board from 38 to 26 members. According to his calculations, a current county supervisor represents 3,563 citizens. This is significantly less than in other similarly sized counties, where the representation is one supervisor for between 4,000 and 5,500 citizens. Litzer says it is not true that rural voters would lose power if the board was downsized.
“That’s a misconception that has been going on for years,” he said.
Litzer said that, if elected, he would keep a tight rein on spending. “I am a fiscal conservative,” he said. “I think tax money should be spent wisely.”
The candidate said further he believes the county should have McDevco, its economic development arm, promote living in the county’s rural townships.
“We have agriculture, forests and land,” he said. “We should encourage people to move and work in these areas. We want more people to send children to local schools.”
Litzer said he supports the county working to improve landline telephone service for people who need to dial 911 in emergencies.
“People have the right for good telephone service,” he said. “We need to make sure we are in the 21st century, not the 20th century.”