FOND DU LAC – Voters will see choices in five Fond du Lac County Board races this spring — though one person on the ballot says she’s no longer running — and candidates’ priorities vary from financial and business issues to broadband and energy initiatives.
The county’s 25 supervisory district seats will be on the respective April 5 ballots, with several incumbents running unopposed.
With incumbent Martin F. Farrell not seeking reelection in District 1, Timothy Bachleitner and Kat Griffith will vie for his seat. Clint Kieler hopes to unseat incumbent Ken Depperman in District 10, and Scott Rodman will face off against Mitch Swanson for District 18 in place of incumbent Thomas M. Kitchen.
Tiffany Brault and Gabriel Cadena both seek incumbent Lisette Aldrich’s place in District 20, and Angela Luehring aims to take over for incumbent Marilyn Hammond in District 25.
Supervisors serve two-year terms and receive $3,000 in compensation, with the chair receiving an additional $2,000 and vice chair $500.
The Reporter provided candidates in contested races with a list of questions and asked them to limit their responses to 100 word.
Hammond told The Reporter she has dropped out of the race, and Kieler, Cadena and Luehring could not be reached by deadline.
Answers have been lightly edited for clarity and length. For more information on your polling location, how to register to vote and what’s on your ballot, visit myvote.wi.gov.
Address: N7612 Fond du Lac County E, Ripon
Occupation and highest education level: Carpenter, high school
Relevant experience: Pastor, chaplain, nonprofit executive director, firefighter, small business owner
Why are you running for office, and what makes you a better candidate for this race?: I am running for office because the last two years have taught us how destructive politicians can be when they overstep the constitution’s authority.
My opponent and I have both been community activists for the last decade. We are, however, on opposite sides of the political spectrum. I am a God-fearing, family man who runs a small business and local nonprofit, and as a freedom-loving patriot, I am not interested in seeing the power of the government increase, on the contrary returning it to the citizens.
What are your or residents’ top issues, and how would you address them?: Current top issues stem from something that has gripped all of our lives for the last two years — the irrational handling of the pandemic by national, state and some local officials. Citizens want to know their elected officials guard the freedoms of the residents they represent. I will be keeping unelected officials in check and committing to educating and motivating citizens to be more active in local government.
Money is always an issue, and I will watch over the futures of the most vulnerable by exposing the greed and keeping over and unnecessary spending out of our county.
What new initiative would you like to see implemented to benefit the county’s future?: I propose we become a constitutional county that knows and understands its founding and become a sanctuary county for the unborn. Our founding fathers gave us a great treasure, but we squandered it. We need to make a massive effort to educate what “We the People” means and send “servant-natured” politicians into office. Our future will be best in the hands of God.
Address: 955 Ransom St., Ripon
Occupation and highest education level: Full-time volunteer — mostly with local community organizations and in my (Quaker) faith community; master’s degree in agricultural economics from University of Wisconsin- Madison
Relevant experience: Volunteer with numerous local organizations; policy analyst focused on agriculture, environment and rural community development; communications professional/writer; grant writer; teacher; Spanish-English interpreter
Why are you running for office, and what makes you a better candidate for this race?: I’m running for County Board because I want clean, competent, nonpartisan governance focused on practical, county-level issues. Living, working and volunteering in Ripon since 1998, I’ve become deeply embedded in the community, getting to know our school district and college, co-founding several community organizations, and working with the community on everything from water quality monitoring to bilingual library programming, from creating a “nature playground” to helping families through the pandemic. With prior professional service in public policy, rural community development and sustainable agriculture, I would be honored to represent the community I know and love on the County Board.
What are your or residents’ top issues, and how would you address them?: District 1 residents want many things: broadband; good roads and parks; family-supporting jobs; sensible environmental regulations; talented students and workers; quality, affordable housing and childcare; reliable emergency and law enforcement services; no-nonsense governance; and responsible use of taxpayer dollars.
I will work to balance these and other worthy concerns, and seek opportunities to strengthen and streamline our county’s services. The county gets high marks from many Riponites for supporting Ripon’s planned Boys and Girls Club, helping retain major employers, and investing in Riggs County Park. I will look for new opportunities to support economic development, social well-being and environmental protection.
What new initiative would you like to see implemented to benefit the county’s future?: Building physical and social resilience: Do our current public safety efforts take into account the increasing likelihood of extreme weather events, pandemics, etc.?
Making our county a welcoming place for everyone: Employers and colleges are very concerned about demographic trends and our need to attract and retain diverse new residents. How can we better roll out the welcome mat?
Protecting the health of our land and people: We are blessed with beautiful natural areas, waterways and farmland. Are we protecting them adequately for our children?
Ken Depperman, District 10 (incumbent)
Address: N1727 Lakeshore Drive, Campbellsport
Occupation and highest education level: Retired, 34 years of experience in the professional staffing industry; bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, chemistry minor.
Relevant Experience: Since April 2014 I have been Fond du Lac County Board supervisor for District 10; currently vice chair of Finance, Personnel, & Economic Development Committee; also representing Fond du Lac County on the Campbellsport Public Library Board; and currently serving on the Wisconsin Counties Association Steering Committee on Transportation and Public Works; Chair, town of Auburn and its Planning Committee.
Why are you running for office, and what makes you a better candidate for this race?: Since I am retired, I have the time to serve the community. I want to represent the towns of Auburn and Osceola to maximize the quality of life in our area. I am experienced and a proven leader.
What are your or residents’ top issues, and how would you address them?: My goals are to keep the county taxes low. As a fiscal conservative and being on the Finance Committee, this allows me to influence spending of county money. I want to work closely with our state senator and representative to have the state take greater responsibility in funding of counties to carry out mandates the state puts on counties. I want to continue the expansion of high-speed internet in our rural area to increase business opportunities and also allow individuals to be able to work from home on their computers. I want to continue to influence the County Board in how and where the county should be investing and partnering with internet providers.
What new initiative would you like to see implemented to benefit the county’s future?: I want to increase job opportunities for the citizens of District 10. I would like Fond du Lac County to help increase the development in our area to create good-paying jobs. This includes a greater partnership with Envision of Greater Fond du Lac.
Scott Rodman, District 18
Address: Fond du Lac
Age: Did not answer
Occupation and highest education level: Practicing bankruptcy attorney for the last 11 years and a volunteer
Relevant experience: I have been active in food distribution, assisting the homeless and mentoring a military veteran. My relevant experience has been enhanced by producing online documentary videos of organizations and activities highlighting positive events. My videos have promoted many nonprofit organizations including Habitat for Humanity, the Galloway House, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Stone Soup, Citizens Climate Lobby, Head Start, South Shore Chorale, and Challenge Day and plays at the high school.
Why are you running for office and what makes you a better candidate for this race?: I decided to run for office when the former County Board supervisor retired. I wanted to continue his good work. My training and background as an attorney equips me to understand the law and procedures of this office. I am a good advocate, seek fairness, have attention to detail and I’m familiar with the legal implications of the law. My extensive volunteer experiences have made me sensitive to the needs of our community. As a landlord of several properties, I’m sensitive to any tax increases and committed to seeing that our tax dollars are carefully and thoughtfully spent.
What are your or residents’ top issues, and how would you address them?: I agree with the recent American Rescue Plan Act, ARPA, survey which rated the replacement of private lead pipes as the No. 1 issue for funding because of its residual medical issues. ARPA funding has been successful in covering families’ financial gaps caused by COVID but the county should monitor ARPA’s programs to fill in gaps in coverage; for example, for child care assistance. My district has a mixture of incomes with a sizable number of people of low income who live in subsidized housing and are struggling to make ends meet. They benefit from ARPA distributions.
What new initiative would you like to see implemented to benefit the county’s future?: I would advocate for the county to build a solar farm which would support the environment and produce energy for county facilities. It would be financially viable in the long run and would promote public awareness of solar power. Even though we tend to look at the protection of the environment as a national issue, it is one that must be addressed at the local level. Although the city of Fond du Lac has a solar farm, the funding was done through private sources. I would like to advocate for such a project at the county level.
Mitch Swanson, District 18
Address: 310 E. Johnson St., Fond du Lac
Occupation and highest education level: Mechanical engineer, bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering
Relevant experience: Thirty-nine years as a mechanical engineer, nine years as church treasurer, 10 Years as church deacon (two churches), soccer coach, football coach, baseball coach, basketball coach, 20 years as a poll worker.
Why are you running for office, and what makes you a better candidate for this race?: I am running to spend property tax money wisely.
What are your or residents’ top issues, and how would you address them?: Students need real world experience, and I would address this need by increasing apprenticeships.
What new initiative would you like to see implemented that would benefit the county’s future?: Work with schools and businesses to increase apprenticeships. I will work to make more businesses aware. I would work to publicly acknowledge businesses for doing this.
Address: 196 Sheboygan St., Fond du Lac
Occupation and highest education level: City Council member and stay-at-home parent. Graduate of Marian University with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in culture, media and gender studies
Relevant experience: Elected to Fond du Lac City Council in April 2021. Former public library director and current member of the Fond du Lac Public Library Board. Active member of many community organizations, such as Chegwin PTO, United for Diversity, Park Watch, and South Shore Chorale.
Why are you running for office, and what makes you a better candidate for this race?: I did not initially plan to run for County Board while serving on City Council, but I knew my current supervisor wasn’t running, so it was the right time for me to step up to the challenge. I love living in Fond du Lac County and want to see our area grow and thrive. I have shown that I can be an effective leader, make informed decisions, and remain fiscally responsible while working to provide the services our area needs and deserves. I really enjoy working in local government and would love to do more to serve my community.
What are your or residents’ top issues, and how would you address them?: The biggest issue Fond du Lac County faces is attracting new residents and workers. Fond du Lac County has partnered with Envision Greater Fond du Lac to provide financial incentives to workers who relocate here, which is an important piece of the puzzle. But we need to look at other factors, such as housing availability and affordability, broadband internet access, and especially how welcoming our area is perceived by potential newcomers of diverse backgrounds. We need to develop a multi-faceted approach to see our area grow.
What new initiative would you like to see implemented that would benefit the county’s future?: I would like to see the county deal head-on with the childcare crisis. I became a stay-at-home parent in large part because it can be incredibly difficult to find affordable, quality childcare options. This problem only became worse due to the pandemic, and many families are really struggling. If we can find a solution, our county’s children will benefit, more families will want to make Fond du Lac County their home, and it will improve our economy as more parents — especially women — are able to return to the workforce.
This article originally appeared on Fond du Lac Reporter: Fond du Lac County Board candidates prioritize business opportunities