By Raymond Neupert/South Metro Observer
WESTON, Wis. – Weston village residents will be voting in a village board primary for the first time in history on Tuesday.
Nine candidates are set for the ballot, and the six with the most votes will continue on to the Spring Elections in April.
Loren White is a current member of the village board and has served the Weston community for decades, both on the board and as a police officer and firefighter.
White says he’s running for the board again because there’s plenty of things that need to be done in Weston. He points to continued expansion along County Road X and Camp Phillips Road and the Camp Phillips Center Project, which calls for increased business expansion on the southeast corner of County X and Highway 29.
“This is a viable opportunity to capture market leakage,” White said.
That ‘leakage’ refers to retail sales that the Wausau area is losing to Appleton, Green Bay and other retail markets across Wisconsin. White says the continued development of that project will be able to spur growth in Weston and keep it a vibrant place for people to move to.
“It’s not something we just decided that ‘let’s build it and they will come,’” White said. “We’ve done the studies, and according to the studies, it should be successful.”
White says you should vote for him because he’s spent 11 years on the board, and has the experience and expertise needed to keep Weston moving on a stable path forward.
Current village board member Mark Porlier has been a resident of Weston since 1990. He’s an electrical engineer and started participating in village politics on the public works committee in 2003.
Porlier says he’s running for the board because he wants to help the community. He says his home community was hit hard by the recession in the 1980’s.
“It was kind of a one dimensional area where it didn’t have a lot of diversity in business and it never recovered from that,” Porlier said.
He says his passion is representing the people and making sure that Weston doesn’t follow the same path his former home community did.
“I want to represent the people of Weston, I don’t do it for myself,” Porlier said. “If you’ve got something to offer, you should get out there and help out with what you have.”
Candidate Mark Maloney is a former member of the village board. He’s been in the Weston area area since 1979, and has worked with grocery sales for the past 32 years. Maloney has also served on the plan commission and is currently on the police commission.
Maloney says he’s running because he’s not in favor with some decisions the board is making.
“I’m definitely in favor of a smaller government, and I think we might be getting too much government, even at a small level like in Weston,” Maloney said.
He says he’s going to be open to communication with residents as well. “I believe I listen well, and I think I’m pretty transparent.”
Maloney says that if he’s elected, he’ll have the whole community in mind and will be prepared to work.
“I don’t just come to meetings and not read the information,” Maloney said. “I’m very involved and I participate.”
Candidate Thomas Rosenberg was a business manager for International Union of Operating Engineers Local 310 before he retired. He also worked at Wisconsin Public Service for 20 years and has served on the D.C. Everest School Board.
He says he was encouraged to run for the village board.
“There’s something unsettled on the board, and I have a certain amount of angst about the development at Camp Phillips Road,” Rosenberg said. “I’m not sure that’s such a wise idea.”
Rosenberg adds that he’s concerned over cuts in road maintenance and that he’d like to be a part of the process to get things straightened out.
If elected, Rosenberg says he knows the job and will be able to properly represent his constituents.
“I know how the board works, I have a wealth of experience on how things are done, and I think I’d be a good candidate.”
Current board member Scott Berger is the Veteran Services officer for Marathon County, and has served three terms on the Weston village board.
Berger says he’s aiming to improve quality of life in Weston.
“The reasons that people come to your community, a lot of times people are picking where they want to live, and then they find a job,” Berger said.
Young people moving to the region need to have a lot of options for shopping, for retail and for places to live, Berger said.
Berger sees growth as the secret to continuing to make Weston strong.
“The way that the state legislature has put a crimp on how municipalities can gather revenue, we need to work on the Camp Phillips Center project to get more retail and housing,” Berger said.
He says he’s has no agenda, except for improving Weston for future generations.
“I care about the community, and I want to see it progress and become a desired place in Wisconsin to come and live.”
County board supervisor Yee Leng Xiong is aiming to become a village board trustee as well. He became one of the youngest D.C. Everest School Board members a few years ago, and is the head of the Hmong American Center of Wausau.
Xiong says he wants to make sure that Weston is taking part in the efforts by the county to create a safe, healthy, and prosperous community.
“I personally believe that is a very good mission for the village,” Xiong said.
He plans to work with local minorities, non profits and other groups to help ensure that the events of March 22 2017 never happens again.
“I also want to work on economic development, and 51 percent of all economic development in Marathon County is going to happen in Weston.”
Xiong says he wants to help Weston grown into a place that people want to move to.
If elected, Xiong says he’ll continue his community involvement. “Working to bring tourism to the local community, handling domestic abuse, working with law enforcement to make sure the community is safe.”
He says that people need to feel part of the discussion and come to the table to work out their issues.
“As a young leader, and a Hmong leader, I can bring a different perspective to the board and that’s something that we truly need in the village of Weston,” Xiong said.
Wally Sparks is the current Everest Metro Police department police chief, but he will retire from that position on March 2. He says he’s very active in the community.
“Vice president of the Optimists for the past nine years, I’m a Big Brother for Big Brothers and Sisters, and I’m on the ministry council at Mount Olive,” Sparks noted.
Sparks says he’s running because he’s been asked to run.
“I’m concerned with a glaring lack of transparency with meeting structure and how things have been run,” Sparks said. “I think there’s a lack of accountability and fiscal responsibility.”
Sparks says the residents aren’t being well represented and that the decisions that are being made are not being adequately explained to the public.
“I think sometimes the priorities are not in order.”
If elected, Sparks says he’ll work well with the community.
“I think I have a reputation of being honest and straightforward with people,” Sparks said.
He says being able to talk with the media or the public is important. “When politics becomes self-serving, it’s time for a change.”
Candidate Stephanie Nagel moved into the Wausau metro area in 2005 and to Weston in 2008. She says she’s been involved with her local neighborhood group.
She’s very concerned about speeders in her neighborhood.
“It’s a safety concern, and it’s a little bothersome,” Nagel said. “I didn’t buy my house to live on a highway, and that’s how it feels sometimes.”
She says she’s approached the village to help combat the speeders and didn’t get any help, until she started showing up to city committees. “We actually now have a traffic calming committee in Weston.”
Nagel says she’s not a politician, by any stretch. “I think there’s things we can do here, and we’re not doing enough.”
Win, lose, or draw, Nagel says she’s running to send a message to the board.
“I’m not happy with the status quo,” Nagel said. “I’m looking for change. I’ve got things I can occupy my time with rather than spending time in committee and trying trying to improve Weston, but I do think there’s things we can do.”
Candidate Shawn Black recently moved to the Wausau area, having settled in Weston in 2017. He’s currently on the SAFER board and is the pastor at Calvary Chapel in Wausau. According to his campaign page, Black has also served in military and law enforcement posts with the U.S. government.
In a press release, Black says he wants to support emergency services personnel in Weston with the best equipment and training available.
“We must also ensure balanced business growth that first favors local residents, and improving county infrastructure while cutting wasteful spending,” Black wrote. “And we must do more with investing in our community and training the next generation of young leaders and entrepreneurs”
If elected, Black says he’ll serve Weston residents to the best of his ability. “With all the important issues facing our county, we must do more to ensure a brighter, more secure future for our residents.”
Polls open Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. For a list of polling locations and Weston voter information, visit the Weston elections website. Wausau Pilot and Review will post election results Tuesday as they become available.