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 email@example.com.
Reporting by Raymond Neupert
Wausau City Council, District 8
Tony Brown, Challenger
Age 70. Retired former high school math teacher.
I am a candidate for district #8 on the City Council because I am proud of the growth and evolution of Wausau over my last seventy years. It is still a great community with great schools, safe neighborhoods, strong families, maintained roads, and good hard-working people who are involved in and care for this community. I would be proud to represent you on the Council.
The city has a many development projects in progress that will require big decisions soon. I would do my best to keep my constituents informed of the discussions regarding those decisions. For example: the city has learned a great deal from the Thomas Street remodel. I would have pushed much harder for a useful 4 lane roadway instead of confusing two way road. That plan would have also required a four lane bridge. Yes, I know more money. Do it right or don’t do it at all.
A mayor city problem is a reduced tax base because most of our low end housing was built a hundred years ago. Our housing stock hardly assesses at $100,000 per single family unit. When home owners try to upgrade their property they are subjected to difficult building codes written today. Much more needs to be be done to encourage housing rebuilds and remodeling.
Much has changed since I was born here and more is coming. We can either direct that change or become victims of poor decisions. I will do my best to make public, informed and solid decisions.
Karen Kellbach, Incumbent
Age 64, Retired former accountant.
Question: Why are you running for office?
Answer: To continue to serve my constituents of District 8 and further the economic growth of the city.
Q: What do you think should be the city council’s top priority this year?
A: The obvious answer is Economic Development, but specifically the River Walk development and the future of the Mall which needs a all hands on deck, think outside the box, think tank with community input to come up with a long term solution.
Q: Do you think our downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that?
A: Referring to the previous question, obviously the mall needs some help, as far as the rest of downtown it’s doing very well as there are few if any vacancies.
Q: There has been some controversy about the riverfront development and how the city handles the RFP process. Do you think the city has handled this issue appropriately in the past? What, if anything, would you change for future projects?
A: I am not a 20-20 hindsight person looking to blame anybody. All projects have hiccups along the way. I think the council responded very well to the one presented to us. The project is now moving forward smoothly due to the quick resolution by the council.
Q: What’s more important for our city right now: building new homes and commercial space or better utilizing our existing homes and storefronts?
A: Both are important and can be done at the same time.
Q: How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? How would you improve upon them?
A: A recent transit survey was done by the Wausau MPO and this topic is still being discussed by the County Transportation Coordinating Committee.
Q: How do you plan to involve residents in decision-making in our city?
A: As the founder of the neighborhood groups that are meeting monthly and are working throughout the city that involves hundreds if not thousands of citizens, I would like to continue to promote this program until we get even more participation, as discussions on upcoming projects are usually discussed and brought to the attention of council by the district representatives.
Q: If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?
A: If the city were to receive this grant I would purpose to put forth a citywide focus group to determine our citizens priorities.
Q: Anything else you’d like voters to know?
A: I feel that my track record has upheld the faith and responsibilities put before me. Therefore I once again ask for your vote. Thank You!