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@wausaupilotreview-newspack.newspackstaging.com.


Marathon County Board of Supervisors, District 9

 Ashley Lange, Challenger

Age 33, lives in Wausau. Senior Quality Assurance Specialist, UAS Laboratories

Government Experience 

I have had an avid interest in government and politics my entire life.  Among several positions held in student government, my most accomplished role was interning at the Wisconsin State Capitol for one of our senators. That was an eye-opening experience and a great insight into government on a state level.  I look forward to taking my love of all things government to the next level by becoming a policymaker myself.

Community Involvement 

As a working mom of a 3 year old, quality time with my daughter is a precious resource, and I try to engage in activities with her that will have the most impact. I have always had a passion for volunteering, and I truly enjoy giving back to the community in ways that my daughter and I can do together. It’s important for me to teach her from a young age that service to others is one of the best things you can do with your time. We enjoy working together as a dog-walking team at the Humane Society of Marathon County (which is also within our District). We spend a lot of time outdoors and participate in cleanup efforts at local parks and natural areas. In a few weeks, on my daughter’s birthday, we will actually be volunteering for Marathon County in the Annual Midwest Crane Count. We are going to begin volunteering a few hours each weekend at a senior living center located within District 9, an opportunity that I pursued after recently canvassing there. I am also hoping that I will be chosen by the Wausau PD to participate in the upcoming Citizen’s Academy, for which I have applied.

Political affiliation (if any) 

While the position is non-partisan and I intend to remain as such, I lean more to the progressive side of many issues. What is important to remember is that I, like everyone, have values and ideals that influence how I live my life and make decisions. But as an elected official on a non-partisan board, I vow to listen to all sides of issues and take into account all unique perspectives of the people I represent. Part of being a Progressive is valuing healthy debate and reaching across the aisle to move forward in the best way possible. I also believe in budgeting and spending wisely. I am a single mother. Believe me when I say that nobody understands the importance of tight budgeting and making a dollar stretch than my fellow single parents!

Why are you running for office? 

There are several reasons I decided to run for the County Board.

  1. My daughter. To me, there is no better way to teach our children valuable lessons than by our actions. I want my daughter to see me make a difference in my community. I want her to learn the value of hard work, believing in yourself, and standing up for your convictions. It is important to me that she understands the positive impact you can have on your community.
  2. I am a problem solver. We are becoming a society that is increasingly full of problems and complaints. I mean have you been on Facebook or a comments section lately!? One of the earliest lessons that my parents taught me was that if you are not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem. I do not want to sit back and identify issues we have without fighting to find solutions. I want to keep our communities moving forward.
  3. I believe people are ready for a new vision in local government. I think one of the most basic principles of quality governing is making yourself available and holding yourself accountable. I believe in transparency and communication. I want to restore faith and interest in government on a local level.
  4. I offer a unique perspective. It excites me to see a more diverse group taking an interest in local government and running for office. I feel that bringing unique and personal experiences to a governing board can only help in considering all sides of issues when making important decisions. My biggest goal on County Board stems from a very personal experience. For many years I struggled with alcohol addiction. I am now going on 5 years in sobriety, and my passion in life is to see others accomplish the same. I can think of no better advocate in combating our addition crisis than someone who has lived it.

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

By far, I see the opioid epidemic and addiction crisis as our biggest challenge. While we have a lot of big issues that will present themselves in the next 2 years, I feel that this issue has more detrimental effects on many other areas in our communities.  We are seeing both social and economic consequences as a result of the growing epidemic. I also view it as a challenge because there is no simple answer. To see improvements will require critical thinking, cooperative efforts, and endurance. One obvious offshoot of this is the huge decisions that will need to be made about the jail. We will need to determine whether the best use of our money comes with constructing a new facility, expanding mental health and addiction services within the jail, or focusing on preventive measures to keep people out of jail for drug-related crimes. I believe that we will be able to include all of these in a comprehensive solution to the overcrowding at the jail. Considering preventive measures is critical in avoiding short-term fixes rather than long-term solutions.

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

I am going to start sounding like a broken record, but I am really committed to battling the addiction crisis. I would love to see any additional resources put into prevention; mental health services, addiction services, rehabilitation services, alternatives to prescription medications, etc. I would also like to see community outreach and education to help lessen the stigma and common misconceptions about addiction and those who fall victim to it.

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

I am incredibly impressed with our Sherriff’s Department as well as the local PD here in Wausau for their vision and mission in addressing our toughest issues. The initiatives for training law enforcement in crisis intervention and mental health are very important.  I believe that the 2018 budget allocation for a Deputy Sherriff position specializing in mental health, addiction, and homelessness, as well as funding to establish a drug court, is money well spent and crucial in our fight against addiction in our community. I would hope to see continued funding, rather than budget cuts, to our law enforcement.

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

I think we will see the jail at the forefront, with NCHC a close second.

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

Currently, the county is actually in a stable place compared to a lot of other regions. However, I think if the trend continues where we see a lot of money spent on short-term fixes to the effects of the opioid epidemic, rather than finding long-term solutions, we can expect to see it worsen over time and cause a strain on our budget.

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

Local governments and smaller municipalities are at an advantage in that more impactful action can be taken as compared to state or national levels. I wish I had an answer or a concrete plan, but unfortunately, we are only just beginning to see how other cities have had success in combating addiction. That being said, I do have a lot of ideas:
1. Regardless of what we do, HOW we do it will involve cooperation and lines of communication between local officials, law enforcement, public health and the private sector. It is imperative that these groups work together.
2. We need to branch beyond Marathon County and work cooperatively with leaders in neighboring areas. Drug trafficking does not remain contained. It spans across community borders.
3. I believe in advocating for addiction treatment as part of health insurance plans in addition to accessibility for low-income or uninsured people. Everyone should have mental health treatment and addiction recovery options available to them.
4. Use data collection and technology to study and interpret trends in addiction and develop plans based on the unique needs of our communities.
5. Change the public discourse surrounding addiction and mental health. Social stigma is a large reason people refuse or avoid seeking treatment. This goes back to my earlier comment on offering my own perspective as someone who is living in sobriety. I know what it is like to struggle with addiction and I know how amazing it is to live year after year in sobriety. I have gone through recovery. I have met other addicts from every walk of life and I understand their plight.

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

Because everyone’s definition of a high-quality life differs, I think the biggest thing I can do is listen. Listen to what residents care about, what scares them, what interests them, and what they think needs to be done in order to live their best lives. If we as leaders are not able to do that, then we cannot expect to see results that make our county a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family.

Anything else you’d like voters to know? 

If you live in my district, chances are you have seen my daughter and I out and about. Between dropping off flyers, knocking on doors, and having some insightful conversations, I have reached approximately 700 registered voters. I have put in a lot of hard work canvassing, because I believe that actions speak louder than words. I want the people of District 9 to know that when they elect me, they will be electing someone who is a tireless worker, who is accessible and available, and who has a genuine interest in communicating with you about your ideas. I am eager to get to know even more of you, what matters to you, and how I can be the leader that you need.


Griffith Williams, Challenger

Age 65, lives in Wausau. Retired.

Government Experience:

Wausau School Board, 1993-2000 (one year as president)

Community Involvement: Past Boy Scout leader, past WASA soccer coach, President National Ski Patroller at Granite Peak

Political affiliation: Independent

Why are you running for office?

Wausau is my home.  I grew up here.  My wife, Dorathy, and I have raised 2 kids here and retired here.  I believe I can provide strong leadership to meet the challenges of Marathon County.

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

1) Resolve the Marathon County Jail space needs.  Look at all options, before considering building.  2) With the Lincoln Hills Juvenile  Detention Center closing, the plan is to transfer juveniles to Marathon County.  What will this look like, and how will it be funded? 3) Keep North Central Health Care facility financially strong and provide excellent care.

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

Drug Awareness and Rehabilitation

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

Anything that affects children, elderly, and families should be shielded.

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

The Marathon County Jail issue needs to be resolved.

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

The county board’s financial position  severely strained.

The biggest threat is the loss of state funding. The county has recently updated it’s financial strategic plan, and it must be followed and monitored if we have any hope of staying on budget.

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

We need to expand awareness and drug treatment.  Employers may have to find a way to help.

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

I will make the best financial decisions by looking at all options, prioritize by required versus desired, monitor their strategic plan, and follow through on outcome based priorities.

Anything else you’d like voters to know?

I will make the best decisions for the support of families in Marathon County.