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Election Q&A: Village of Weston Board of Trustees

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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.

These six candidates are vying for three open positions on the Weston Village Board of Trustees.

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

Reporting by Raymond Neupert


Village of Weston Board of Trustees (3 seats available)

Scott Berger, Incumbent

Why are you running for office?

I want to continue to serve to help make Weston a great place to live.

What do you see as the board’s top priority this year.

Continue working towards the development of the Camp Phillips Center project for economic development.

If someone came to you with a proposal to build a new development in Weston, how would you evaluate whether that project is worth implementing?

I would need to consider facts about the costs of the project, impact on natural and community resources, and the anticipated benefits to the community and citizens of Weston.  I think it’s really important to look with a long-term perspective.

If you could change one thing in Weston, what would it be, and why?

I would like to see a collaborative strategic plan developed by a cross-section of the community in partnership with the Village of Weston. I think the community needs to know that we are thinking about what type of community we want to leave for our children and grandchildren 20+ years into the future.

How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in our Village?

Encourage citizens to become more active in the village by attending village board meetings to learn more about the workings of the village and seek out a wider cross-section of citizens to serve as citizen members of Village committees.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for Weston any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

I would use a $1 million grant to upgrade current parks and facilities such as the Weston Aquatic Center.  Our parks (and especially the aquatic center) are in need of maintenance and facility upgrades to continue providing a strong quality of life for our citizens.  I believe it is quality of life attributes, like our parks, which make Weston an attractive place where people and families want to locate.

What is Weston’s most promising development?

The Camp Phillips Center project.

Anything else you’d like voters to know?

Weston and Marathon County are aging. We need to do things to make our community attractive to younger people. They are our future.  In today’s technological age, we are competing economically on a global scale. We need to work to make Weston a place where people will choose to live.


Mark Maloney, Challenger

Why are you running for office?

Feeling a need to return and serve again. I enjoy being involved and trying to help with community issues.

What do you see as the Board’s top priority this year?

To help guide Village of Weston with growth opportunities and meet those needs with services we can afford/sustain now and into the future.

If someone came to you with a proposal to build a new development in Weston, how would you evaluate whether that project was worth implementing.

Several questions come to mind – What benefits for the Village of Weston? How will Village services be impacted? Will this development compete with a neighboring community? Retail vs. Professional or Manufacturing would weigh heavily on evaluation, with retail demanding more services. These are just a few questions that come to mind on considering a new development.

If you could change one thing in Weston, what would it be, and why?

The service level. Over the past few years I continue to hear more critiques on the Villages service level. A resident only needs to walk thru the front doors of our Village and will immediately see notices of “NO” and “MUST”, also “24-36 HOUR APPOINTMENT NEEDED FOR INSPECTIONS” and “NO INSPECTIONS ON FRIDAYS”. Working in retail my entire career, you understand a good Service Level and how to continue to survive in business. Contractors have been reaching out and voicing their concerns over the negative impact this service level has on their business working on projects in the Village of Weston.

How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in our Village?

Listen, return calls, answer questions . . . residents or local media may not always agree with my thoughts or decision on a vote, but will always know where I stand on an issue.

Discussion and a good healthy debate on an issue has at times swayed my thinking on a issue. As a Trustee, you are one elected voice of seven for any decision/vote. Being transparent and approachable is key.

If you received a $1,000,000 million-dollar grant to use for Weston any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

First, I am not a fan of grants. I always question where did it come from and why? What strings are attached, how do we have to perform and ongoing cost spending the grant. It’s either State or Federal taxpayer paid dollars. So, in my simple way of thinking – we were over taxed in the first place to create EXTRA, UNNEEDED DOLLARS, for POLITICIANS to SPEND at their leisure normally to help with future elections or performance required. A major flaw in our political system.

Now, to answer the question –

Protection for Children, Care for Elderly and Creation of New Jobs, in this order.

What is Weston’s most promising development?

I know the answer being sought is something proposed or being built, but I must disagree. Weston’s most promising development is its population growth, its Residents! We are fortunate to have a Great School District, attractive neighborhoods, a good sense of community, a strong, well-managed Police department and Fire department. Definitely, the answer is Weston’s Residents.

Anything else you would like the voters to know?

I have lived in this area since 1980 . . . raising a family, and enjoying life with my best friend, my wife, Kay. We have four grown children and one grandchild. At home still, (probably will never move out) is our 12-year-old dog “Jerry”. We have great neighbors too. Kay and I enjoy camping / traveling when we can and home / yard projects. I continue to work with Russ Davis Wholesale, a Produce company, delivering to our Excellent Grocery Store Partners across the state of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. If fortunate enough to be elected as a Village of Weston Trustee . . . I will not disappoint you.


Stephanie Nagel, Challenger

Why are you running for office?

My decision to run for office was for a couple reasons but the main reason would be because I believe my experience and education would bring value and a new perspective to our local government.

How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in our village?

Anyone who would be interested in becoming more involved with the decision making process in our community I would invite them to participate in the weekly meetings, ask to be placed on the agenda to present a concern, join a committee to participate in something they feel passionate about.  Becoming involved in our community provides more perspectives to the decision making process as well as increasing mutual understanding between residents and our village government. Weston has a lot of different means to communicate what is going on in our village. Weekly emails (Weston E-news), bi-monthly publication (Weston Wire), website (www.westonwi.gov) access to information, meetings and agendas, weekly public meetings, next-door, POLCO, and various social media sites.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for Weston any way you wanted, what would you do with it, and why?

I would promote using the grant money to maintain, improve and expand our infrastructure.  Weston is a growing community and we will need to continue expanding our current infrastructure.  We also need to maintain what we currently have in order to avoid costly repairs/replacements when things fail.  Using the money in this way will help to keep taxes from increasing to pay for costly repairs and expansions.

What is Weston’s most promising development?

The Camp Phillips Centre Project would be a wonderful addition to our community.  It brings in tax revenue, jobs, shopping options, and brings people into our community which should help with the foot-traffic in our existing businesses.


Wally Sparks, Challenger

Why are you running for office?

Because so many people have asked me to.  This includes residents, village employees, and local business owners.  I agreed to run to continue to serve this community that has been a big part of my life since moving to Weston.

What do you see as the board’s top priority this year?

To understand that the village, or any other body of government for that matter, exist solely to provide services to the community and to serve those that live, work, or do business here.  Too often, those entrusted in positions of authority within government positions, whether they be elected or appointed, lose sight of that basic purpose.

If someone came to you with a proposal to build a new development in Weston, how would you evaluate whether that project was worth implementing?

All development must be first be evaluated based on how it benefits the community.  Next, there needs to be cost benefit analysis to the taxpayers. We would need to assess the impact it would have on existing village services, such as police, fire/EMS, public works, etc.  As an example, I had an opportunity to conduct research on the impact of putting a Super Wal-Mart in at the previous community I worked in. Just from a law enforcement perspective alone, the average annual call volume for a Super Wal-Mart in SE Wisconsin was 1,000 police calls for service.  That would be around an 8-10 percent increase in calls for police service in the Village of Weston. And this doesn’t include the other village services needed to support the business. So staffing levels would have to be evaluated to determine if we had adequate resources to handle the additional service needs, which would start immediately.  Conversely, adding an expansion to a local manufacturing facility, which when compared to a large retail facility like a Walmart, could probably provide the same level of increased tax base, without significantly impacting service levels. The income level from higher paying manufacturing jobs would also facilitate the expansion of residential growth, further stabilizing our tax base.

If you could change one thing in Weston, what would it be, and why?

The lack of transparency. Village Board meetings have become a predominately consent agenda check box.  For residents that want to attend a meeting to find out what is going on in the village, they will walk away disappointed.  Unless residents go online to read through a sometimes 200-300 page board packet, which is posted about 5pm on Friday evenings for a once a month Monday village board meeting, they will have no idea of what is occurring in the village.  While department heads are required to provide a written report for this packet, the village administrator provides only a verbal report at these meetings. The use of outside consultants for many areas of village business has expanded significantly over the past four to five years at a significant cost to the taxpayers.

How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in our village?

The first thing I would do is to provide a survey to all residents and local businesses with a list of services and have them identify service and spending priorities.  I would like to see the board use this information to establish service priorities that would guide budget deliberations. I think that the public needs to understand the budget challenges, which include the potential consequences of adding or adjusting certain services.  Just as an example, the administrator sent out information to residents in the Sandy Subdivision asking if residents wanted sidewalks installed in the subdivision. However, there was no information provided as to how this would be funded, if the residents wished to have these sidewalks in their subdivision.  So, when seeking input from residents, we need to provide enough information so they fully understand the financial and service level impacts that coincide with the options that are to be considered.

If you received a $1 million dollar grant to use for Weston any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

I would seek ways to make that money work for us.  I think a great place to start would be to offer grants for small business start-ups.  Small businesses account for approximately 70% of all jobs in the U.S. As a hypothetical example, if we provided 40 grants at $25,000 for startup new small businesses in the village that employed at least 3-4 people, imagine what that would do for the village economy and tax base.  There would need to be some specific guidelines and requirements for these funds, but I think that would be a great idea.

What is Weston’s most promising development?

Most of the responses you will likely get from candidates will be the Camp Phillips corridor, or SE Quadrant.  I disagree with this. The village administrator presented this plan to the Marathon County Executive Committee in September of 2016 and indicated the retail center would bring in $150 million in property tax base and about 4,000 jobs.  The village has already signed off on a loan of around $20 million to provide infrastructure for this project. Since that time, the project has been cut in size and scope to approximately half of what was originally proposed, but I don’t think the residents are aware of this.  This project, run primarily through outside consultants, did not include letting the owners of this proposed development even know what they were planning until it was unveiled to the public. This did not sit well with some of those who owned this land. The village is currently paying a law firm to act as lobbyists in an effort to change the DNR laws regarding wetlands as portions of this proposed project  would be located in wetlands. There are also some significant costs, several millions worth, that the village will incur just to move the ATC high power electrical transmission lines which go directly through this property. There is commercial property for sale all around the Hwy 29 corridor and St. Clares Hospital that would not have posed some of these additional costs and have municipal services already abutting these properties. Brick and mortar retail outlets are struggling mightily in face of e-commerce retailers, which are currently seeing 17% annual increases and we have seen the rise of “dark stores” as many retail outlets are going under.  Under current dark store legislation, municipalities are seeing decreased revenues from closed retail locations.

I think small businesses and manufacturing expansion projects currently being considered by local companies present our most promising developments, which can be completed with minimal taxpayer dollars, and provide a more stable and secure tax base without further burdening existing local services.  These local companies already employ a significant number of local residents and provide higher wages than are generally provided in retail outlets.

Anything else you would like the voters to know?

I am running to continue to serve this great community.  I think political offices should have term limits at every level and politics should not be a career position or a hobby.  It really doesn’t matter what political spectrum you favor, there are countless examples of why, over time, career politicians seem to lose touch with the public they are supposed to be serving and representing.  If elected, I will be accountable to those who live, work and do business in the Village of Weston. Not everyone will always agree with every decision that is made but I can promise that I will always have an open-door policy, will tell you the facts and will always explain why decisions are made, which for me, will always be made in the best interest of our community.


Loren White, Incumbent

Why are you running for office?

I was encouraged by someone I respected to run for Village Trustee for the first time in the 2007 Village Spring Election and was elected Trustee. I had had many years of experience in dealing with public safety issues as a Police Officer (30 years) and Firefighter/EMT (19 years). I also was aware of the issues that came before the Town Board and then the Village Board as I attended numerous meetings over the years of both bodies. I felt that I would be able to offer much to further the maturing of the Village. I saw the struggles that both the Town and then the Village worked through as the community transitioned from basically a rural bedroom community to the second largest municipality in Marathon County.

I bring considerable experience to the position of trustee not only from a public safety professional perspective but also from my experience serving as a Trustee of the Village. From the first of my four terms as a Trustee I was:

  • Chair, Village of Weston Safety Committee,
  • Committee member, Personnel Committee,
  • Committee member, Plan Commission,
  • Committee member Everest Metropolitan Police Department Joint Finance Committee.

I ran for Village President in the 2013 Village Spring Election and was elected President. During that term I was:

  • Chair of the Plan Commission, still serving in that role
  • Committee member, Personnel Committee
  • Chair/member of the Everest Metropolitan Police Department Joint Finance Committee,
  • Member of the Marathon County Metropolitan Planning Organization,
  • Member of the Wausau Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
  • Chair and Member of the South Area Fire and Emergency Response District Board of Directors, charter signatory of the agreement establishing same.
  • I worked with the Village Administrator to reorganize the Village’s Committee structure, combining committees that carried out similar functions, such as:
  • Public Works and Utility and Building and Grounds became the Property and Infrastructure Committee. Now the Public Works and Utility Committee.
  • The Community Development Authority and the Economic Development Committee became the Community Development Authority.
  • Public Safety Committee became the Community Life and Public Safety Committee. Now the Public Safety Committee.

At the end of my term as Village President I accepted the appointment by the Board of Trustees to serve the remainder of the term of the Trustee who was elected Village President. I was honored to fill that role and to be selected by my peer Trustees.

I ran for Trustee again in the 2016 Village Spring Election and was elected Trustee in my current term. During my current term I have served as:

  • Vice-President as elected by the Board of Trustee for 2016 and 2017.
  • Chair of the Plan Commission.
  • Chair of the Community Development Authority.
  • Member of the Everest Metropolitan Police Department Joint Finance Committee.
  • Member of the South Area Fire and Emergency Response District Board of Directors.
  • Alternate member of the Marathon County Metropolitan Planning Organization.

What do you see as the board’s top priority this year.

Having worked on and with all the long range plans the Village has in motion to deal with; economic development growing the tax base, providing for infrastructure maintenance, providing a safe place for residents and visitors to travel, live, work and play, maintaining and growing a community that facilitates the provision of excellent health care, maintaining and growing a community that facilitates the provision of excellent education.

Since the 2018 budget has already been set. During 2018 the Board will need to balance all the needs of the community and how to provide for them through taxes, grants, loans, and cuts in spending where identified for the 2019 budget. This is a daunting task in light of the history of money or lack thereof that the Village has had to deal with.

Loss of transportation aids approximately $1,000,000.00 per year which has not been recovered by any means either by other state aids or taxes because of the State of Wisconsin’s imposition of levy limits which limits the increases in local taxes to growth or 1.5%. Considering the increase in costs, particularly associated with personnel, which makes up the largest expenditure of Village tax dollars.

Public Safety, Police Fire and EMS are the second largest expenditures that the Village is responsible for.

The Village has worked over the past four years and vetted to the public numerous times via; the Village’s web site, quarterly newsletters, weekly e-mail newsletters. The Village has held Board, Committee and Commission meetings where the public has and has had the opportunity to offer feedback to the Board of Trustees. The Village set in motion its updated Comprehensive Plan. A ten-year plan that the State of Wisconsin requires for all municipalities to prepare. Part of that plan, when acted upon sets in motion the “Camp Phillips Centre” or Camp Phillips Corridor Plan. A plan proposed with partners for development.

These development projects revive a long-dormant development at the north-east quadrant of County Highway X and Weston Ave. in Tax Increment District 1. The Village conducted a study done by a firm called the Retail Coach to determine if such a project was viable.

If someone came to you with a proposal to build a new development in Weston, how would you evaluate whether that project is worth implementing?

It is ironic that you make this question, barring the previously mentioned project, the Village has in place a process where all developments, commercial, industrial, residential, etc. come before the Plan Commission after review by the Planning and Development Department which evaluates the proposal for alignment with the Village’s Zoning Code, Comprehensive Plan, Future Land Use Map, and if the project is requesting the use of Tax Increment Financing funds those applications are required to follow an extensive submittal process and are evaluated on; What is it? Is it good for the entire Village? Does it generate living wage jobs? What are the impacts on quality of life, traffic, noise, public safety, education? Does the project generate enough increment to pay back any investment the Village has made? These types of proposed projects are put before the Plan Commission, public hearings are held during which the public has the right to address the Plan Commission with their objections or support. The Board also reviews the plan and either approves or denies it. Many times, I hear that residents don’t want any economic development but in reality, a growing community needs more than single family residents to provide the tax base which funds all the services present and future that residence want and have come to expect. Are we competing with our neighboring communities? Yes and no. The study done by Retail Coach shows that in theory visitors to our retail area would come from east of the Village and the Village itself, not necessarily our neighbors. In reality if the Village was to not “compete” with our neighboring communities then the Village should stop allowing single family residents which are the backbone of any community. Economic growth in our neighbors means growth in all the surrounding communities

If you could change one thing in Weston, what would it be, and why?

I can’t change it but I would like to see more public input in Village operations. I realize that in this modern-day families are very busy and don’t have the time to set aside several hours a week to attend meetings. All meetings, with very few exceptions are open to the public. Very seldom are meetings attended by the public.

How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in our Village?

I would and do encourage all residents to attend meetings, suggest that if they are interested in serving the community that they apply to citizen positions on any and all the of the Village’s committees, commissions and authorities. Participate in Citizen Academies. I also encourage residents to run for local office. I remember one of the Village’s past President statement that everyone should get involved in local government.

The Village sets out through many outlets, surveys about the village, priorities, the Village Web Site, Facebook, Nextdoor, the Village Weekly E-Mail Newsletter, the Weston Wire Newsletter. I am not personally responsible for the development of these information sources but support them in all forms to keep as many of our residents as informed as they wish to be.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for Weston any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

I would set it up as a local economic development loan fund aimed at small start-up business or small businesses that need gap funds in order to establish or grow their business. Sometimes small businesses are overlooked for funding and this might make that possible. Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. The hope would be that the fund would be self-sustaining.

What is Weston’s most promising development?

Considering all the long-term research, planning and partnerships with developers it would be the Camp Phillips Centre which is entering the preliminary final planning stage. The Village has worked with Forward Development Group, which has made a substantial investment on the center.


 Yee Leng Xiong, Challenger

Why are you running for office?

I have always have an interest in making sure that all my neighbors and community members are taken care of. I am concern about some of the challenges that is developing in the Village of Weston and want to ensure to that we are investing and taking care of the well being of the residents in the Village of Weston. Community Service has always been a priority and taught to me while growing up.

What do you see as the board’s top priority this year?

I think some of the biggest priority this year is the development of Camp Phillips Road. The County released a report stating that 51% of the economic development that will be occurring in the county in the next upcoming years will occur in the Village of Weston. I want to be able to over see this progress.

If someone came to you with a proposal to build a new development in Weston, how would you evaluate whether that project was worth implementing?

One of my major criteria will obviously be a living wage. We can have as many jobs available as possible but if the wage is not a livable wage, that should be something that needs to be considered.

If you could change one thing in Weston, what would it be, and why?

I feel that although the Village of Weston is a great place to live and definitely have accomplished quite a bit, I want to see more of the larger activities or events that occurs in Marathon County occur in the Village of Weston. With discussions with neighbors, I sometimes feel that there are now enough community activities that occurs in the Village of Weston.

How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in our village?

We need to make sure that the Village of Weston meetings are held at a time when the residents are able to attend. We need to make efforts to educate and reach out to the community to encourage them to participate in our local government. Whether its serving on committees and commissions or staying informed.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for Weston any way you wanted, what would you do with it, and why?

I would use that money to create a community center in the Village of Weston so that the residents of Weston can utilize for events, or community activities. Otherwise, I would use that money to help assist with business developments.

What is Weston’s most promising development?

The development along Camp Phillips and support towards economic development.

Anything else you’d like voters to know?

I have been a member of the DC Everest School Board, and a member of the Marathon County Board of Supervisors. I have experience as a community leader, and have always strive to bring the community together to address issues rather than alienate. I believe that in order for our community to continue to progress, we need to bring everyone to the table, to ensure that everyone has a say.

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