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Election Q&A: Marathon County Board of Supervisors, Dist. 36

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Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot & Review will publish a series of Q&As in the days leading up to the April 3 spring election for contested seats in the Wausau metro area. For a sample ballot and general election information, visit the Marathon County election information page. Watch for more election coverage and be sure to bookmark our elections page here. Candidates, listed in alphabetical order, were given the opportunity to answer identical questions in the interest of fairness. Their unedited answers are listed below.

Letters to the editor are encouraged through Monday, April 2. Email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com.


Marathon County Board of Supervisors, District 36

Bill Miller, Incumbent

Age: 74 years.  Born on my mother’s birthday.  My son born on his mother’s birthday.(family planning)

Lives in Rib Mountain. Retired as manager for CPA firm (Schenck)

Government Experience:

When I was in the labor market full time I audited and provided financial consultation to local governments and not-for-profits, including many counties in Wisconsin,  I am a former town Supervisor (Rib Mountain) and served as their auditor until retirement.  I am currently a commissioner for the Rib Mountain Sanitary District and was their auditor and consultant for many years prior to that.  I am currently a Marathon County Board member (10 years), chair of it’s Finance and Human Resources Committee, member of its Health and Human Services Committee, member of its Executive Committee and member of the North Central Health Care Board and sit on its Finance and Nursing Home Committees.

Community Involvement:

Various committees during my stint as Town Supervisor; assisted in establishing the Town’s Sanitary District; Badger State Winter Games commissioner; chaired Rib Mountain Fest for many years (community festival which raised $ tens of thousands for Town recreation programs); former Rib Lions Club and Evening Optimists (held offices in both); founding parent of the Montessori School of Wausau; Little League manager/coach/umpire.

Political affiliation (if any):

Non-partisan fiscal conservative.  However I am endorsed by my friends at the Marathon County Republican Party.  And that is greatly appreciated.

Why are you running for office? :

In one word – –PAYBACK!  Our community and all of Central Wisconsin has been a blessing for my family and myself by providing an abundance of opportunities to live a successful life.  What better way to play this forward than by using my talents to ensure that the next generation is given that same opportunity.  And that’s what I have been doing for the past 10 years that I have been a member of the County Board.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing county officials in the next two years?

By far it is the opioid and alcohol crisis we are facing.  It will not go away soon or by itself.  It is a costly and expensive challenge.  But the cost of doing little to nothing is far worse.

If new resources were available, what one area of county services would you feel most needs additional resources?

Again, it is the drug and alcohol problem and the treatment of those afflicted.  Marathon County maintains a health care center (North Central) which also services 2 other Counties.  That facility has a 6 bed ward tor treating alcohol/drug abusers on a long-term basis.  And facilities at other hospitals in the area do not supply this service. Despite the fact the State mandates that the County provide treatment, we are currently grossly inadequate for the task.

Should any part of the county budget be shielded from cuts? And if so, which area?

Yes- -again dollars for the long-term care of people who are alcohol and drug abusers should be shielded. Also dollars for construction and maintenance or roads needs to be safeguarded; the loss of State aids and increased materials costs have taken its toll on our highways.  Finally law enforcement dollars should be protected because of the increased demands put on our Sheriff’s department for both patrolling and jail operations.

What do you see as the most pressing needs for infrastructure or capital projects in the county?  

Treatment facilities at North Central Health Care; the need for a major overhaul of our jail facilities which is overcrowded (we spend millions every year to house prisoners in other counties); roads and bridge capital costs.

What is your assessment of the county’s overall financial position? Where do the biggest threats to the county’s financial stability lie?

Our balance sheet shows a strong and well managed County.  However, we will soon be asked to consider several large ticket capital items with a cost which will shock even the most aggressive spenders on the Board.  Proposals for a total remake of the North Central Health Care Center and a new jail are projected to cost in excess of several hundred million $$.  A large part of our future depends on how well a new Board manages these items and explores alternative options- -including partnering with other governments and/or buying services from the private sector.

What is your vision and strategy for addressing the opioid addiction crisis?

Marathon County, along with numerous other counties in Wisconsin and across the nation, recently instituted a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, suppliers and doctors who, it is known, have provided these drugs to users in a reckless manner.  We are asking that they discontinue this criminal scheme and that they be ordered to assist health care providers in financing treatments.  Our Governor is also seeking legislation which mandates that those seeking financial assistance be tested for illegal drug use prior to receiving public monies.  I agree with that concept.  In addition governments and all social medias must push hard to educate people at all levels of consequences of drug abuse.

What, specifically, will you do to improve the quality of life for the people of Marathon County? 

In my judgement Marathon County does a pretty good job at being open and fair to its citizens.  But again- -the opioid drug problem which certainly is much bigger than the County’s borders.  If this problem is not tackled head-on and with enthusiasm we will have a full blown crisis in a few years.  If we are successful and can stem the tide of abuse then the quality of life will certainly improve.  We will make big strides to improving our organizational culture- -“HEALTHIEST, SAFEST AND MOST PROSPEROUS COUNTY IN THE STATE”

Anything else you’d like voters to know?

Two items I specifically would like to see in the way the County does business:  1) More consideration for outsourcing purchases (from private businesses versus in-house) whenever the opportunity exists. 2) The use of taxpayer referendums especially when large capital items and borrowing is considered.  Outsourcing is used sparingly for services.  Referendums are never used in the County.


Nancy Stencil, Challenger

Age: 61

Lives in Rib Mountain, works in mental health as a crisis professional

Community Involvement: Serve as recording Secretary for the Marathon County Central Labor Council, Citizen Action, Marathon County AOD Board Member, 9 to 5 Wisconsin Board Member, Breast Cancer Coalition of Wisconsin.

Political affiliation (if any): The office I am running for is non-partisan. I consider myself progressive and I believe the needs of the people must be heard over the sound of crisp money. I believe in compromise and that the truth lies between two extremes.

Why are you running for office?

Because I love our way of life in Marathon County! I believe in the value of hard work and compromise and from this, amazing things happen. We are better off when we all work together at our shared challenges.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing county officials in the next two years?

The lack of state funding makes it increasingly more difficult to meet our ever-growing needs; especially in the areas of addiction and mental health. These two areas alone have far reaching consequences in our social services, schools, courts and jail. Also, our county is at a critical stage of maintaining our roads.

If new resources were available, what one area of county services would you feel most needs additional resources?

Definitely in the areas of the social services. Many of our families struggle with needs that include food shortages, child care, birth to 3 needs, mental health and addiction. We also have an aging population that built this community and we have a responsibility to take care of them. When we can fulfill the needs of our families (young and old), we become a stronger community. I also think we need to look at viable ways of bringing our communities together with public transportation.

Should any part of the county budget be shielded from cuts? And if so, which area?

At the risk of showing some bias here; I am going to say our crisis services and law enforcement should be shielded from cuts. We more recently have teamed up the two agencies to better serve the needs in our community. When we can meet the challenges of mental health and addiction in our community, it ripples out to less issues with our court system, our schools and makes for a more productive community. I also think our county highway department needs to be shielded from further cuts. We have an amazing team of women and men out there that do an extortionary job of making our commutes safe.

What do you see as the most pressing needs for infrastructure or capital projects in the county?

North Central Health Care and Mount View Care Center are both crucial to the stability of our community. Our families, young and old, deserve access to reliable and affordable care. The jail is also a pressing need that needs to be explored for efficiency and safety concerns.

What is your assessment of the county’s overall financial position? Where do the biggest threats to the county’s financial stability lie?  

Our County Board has done a good job of being future focused and that has kept our spending in check. I would be honored to serve and help with looking to the future and how we attract and keep younger people in our community. Our financial stability lies in attracting businesses that pay family sustaining wages; ensuring that families can reinvest in our community.

What is your vision and strategy for addressing the opioid addiction crisis?

Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and have access to services regardless of ability to pay. Services need to be timely and efficient. We need to see if we are meeting measurable goals to help people thrive. I’m happy to say that many people are working behind the scenes on programs such as recovery coaching to help people maintain and avoid relapse.

What, specifically, will you do to improve the quality of life for the people of Marathon County?

I will continue to work within my community to ensure that everyone has access to what they need to thrive and be healthy. I will advocate for attracting employment that and keeps our young families here. Employment that attracts new young people to come here and the importance of embracing diversity.

Anything else you’d like voters to know?

That I will work to make sure our tax dollars are not only spent wisely but that they are spent where they are needed most. It will be an honor to serve the people of Marathon County. I cannot say it enough that we all do better when everyone’s needs are met. Our way of life here is a wonderful mix or rural and city and I will advocate for using green energy to sustain our beauty here for generations to come.

 

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