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Election Q&A: Weston Village Board

in Elections 2019

WAUSAU PILOT AND REVIEW

Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot & Review will publish a series of Q&As in the days leading up to the April 2 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 four candidates are vying to be elected to the Weston Village Board. There are three positions available.

Letters to the editor are encouraged through Monday, April 1. Email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com.


Barbara Ermeling

Age: 75

Barbara Ermeling

Occupation: Retired

Prior political experience: I was the Treasurer, Clerk, Clerk/Treasurer for the Town of Weston, also served as the Clerk/Treasurer for the Village of Weston.  In 2000 I was elected Village Trustee.  In 2015 I was elected Village President. I also served on the Marathon County Board of Supervisors.

Education: High school graduate, with some tech classes.

Community involvement: I am a member of Peace United  Church. I currently serve on the Endowment Committee, Funeral Committee and the Ushers Committee. I also volunteer for the Everest Area Optimist Club Bike Rodeo. I was very honored to have been a Athena Leadership Award Finalist.

Why are you running for office?

The village has several large projects still in the development stage, the SE corridor for a multi use development, the sport complex study and the need for a new municipal center. I am concerned about how to improve our roads. With state funds being cut and budget restrains, the village has not been able to do all the repairs needed. We now are at the stage where we are paying down our debt. We will be able to take out new debt for some of the projects without raising the taxes. I would like to continue serving to see these projects move forward while keeping an eye on how they will be funded.

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

Finding the resources to support the needs of the Everest Metro Police Department, SAFER and public works, while keeping our tax rate level.

Which of Weston’s services most needs additional resources?

This is a difficult question as there are needs in every department. With the restraints the state has put on municipalities and the cuts in state funding, every department has struggled with doing more with less. With the rise in drug use and mental heath issues, our police department has difficulty in having enough officers to cover the demand. There are additional demands with SAFER trying to maintain equipment and services. Our public works department has struggled to keep up with road repairs, equipment and the demands winter puts on its resources.

Should any part of Weston’s budget be shielded from cuts? And if so, which area?  

No. If cuts are needed, the board has to look at all requests and determine what the priorities are.

What is the most promising thing happening in Weston right now? 

The possible multi-use development by the Highway X interchange (Camp Phillips Road). The new expansions of businesses in our business park.

Where do the biggest threats to Weston’s financial stability lie, and what should be done about them?

The state continues to underfund the state shared revenues to municipalities, while cutting other revenues sources.  Another big concern is the Dark Store and Walgreens tax loopholes.  Currently, there is a bipartisan bill SB 130 to close these loopholes. I have been in contact with our representatives regarding these issues. Currently, both Rep. Jerry Petrowski-R and Rep. John Spiros-R have signed on to SB 130. If these loopholes are not closed, we could see a big shift of the tax burden from businesses to homeowners.

What, specifically, will you do to improve the quality of life for people in Weston?

I will continue to support our public works and public safety. We cannot attract businesses if we do not provide good roads. We also need to continue to provide a safe place to live and work. I hope, if finances allow, we can make some improvements to our parks.

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

The board just approved an agreement to have our board meetings taped. This will give the residents the opportunity to view the meetings in their homes. The village has citizen members on all our committees. Residents are encouraged to apply for these positions. I have always welcomed phone calls from the residents, if they have concerns or if they just would like to discuss an issue, I will talk with them. I return all calls, even if I know it might be someone who may be upset about an issue.

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

There are so many things I would like to do. A million dollars is a lot of money, but most projects would cost much more than a million dollars, because this would be a one-time funding. I would look at bringing our parks up to being handicap accessible. Some of our parks are difficult for anyone with a disability to enjoy. All municipal areas should be handicap accessible. This would be a one-time project.

Why should voters choose you on April 2?  

Prior to being on the village board I was the clerk/treasurer. This knowledge has helped me understand budgets, taxes, day to day operations and dealing directly with the residents. I have always considered myself a conservative when dealing with the budget. I question the reason for some fees. When citizens have concerns, I am willing to listen to their concerns. I cannot always give them the answer they want, but I explain my position and where or who could help them with the issue. We must be willing to work with the other municipalities to cut the cost of some projects. I try to treat everyone fairly; if you are a big business or a resident, you should be treated equally. Serving the village has been a great honor.


Nate Fiene

Nate Fiene

Age: 25

Occupation: Deputy clerk/deputy treasurer of Redgranite

Prior political experience: University Affairs Chairman at UW-Green Bay, Legislative Affairs Chairman at St. Cloud State University, field organizer for Gov. Tony Evers-D and Sen. Tammy Baldwin-D. I took the job with Baldwin and Evers because I thought it would lead to a job so I could serve northcentral Wisconsin.

Education: Master’s in public administration

Community involvement: Lifelong resident, board member of the Hmong-American Center

Why are you running for office?

I’m running for office because I want to see my home do even better. I believe that we can maintain the current level of services while keeping taxes fairly low if we expand. We live in the fastest-growing area for jobs in the state and can profit from this unique combination of events.

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

I think the biggest challenge facing our village officials is the attraction and retention of young workers and young families. Wisconsin struggles from “brain drain” and northcentral Wisconsin is the hardest hit. Outside of the medical and educational fields, there are few industries in the area that are attractive to educated young people.

Which of Weston’s services most needs additional resources?

The two that come to mind are Everest Metro Police Department and our roads. Our roads are patched up fairly well, but I think that many of the neighborhood streets and some of the main thoroughfares need extra attention.

With the rise of drug and human trafficking, we need additional resources to combat those threats. To be clear, I’m not talking about nonviolent people who smoke marijuana; I’m focused on the threat posed by drug cartels dealing fentanyl or meth becoming out of control.

Should any part of Weston’s budget be shielded from cuts? And if so, which area?

Emergency services and roads should be shielded from cuts. While we can take measures to cut costs in several areas, the amount we can cut is pretty small relative to the budget as a whole. Weston has always run pretty lean.

Emergency services needs its funding to remain relatively constant to ensure the same level of services necessary to protect life and property. I think roads need additional funding to be improved, so cutting that area is something that I am very cautious about.

What is the most promising thing happening in Weston right now?

I think the most promising thing happening in Weston right now is the opportunity we have to attract economic investment and young families. Once the Camp Phillips corridor is completed, I believe businesses will be more interested in Weston because of our proximity to Wausau and the rate at which our local economy is growing. We need to attract young families to the area, and the best way to do that is by attracting businesses that pay family-supporting wages.

Where do the biggest threats to Weston’s financial stability lie, and what should be done about them?

The biggest threats to Weston’s financial stability are the overdependence on the manufacturing base and healthcare industry for family-supporting wages. I worked at Crystal Finishing for several years to put myself through UW-Green Bay and have nothing against factory jobs, but I believe we need to diversify and increase our economic capabilities so that we can add 21st Century jobs while holding onto our manufacturing base.

What, specifically, will you do to improve the quality of life for people in Weston?

I will do everything in my power to ensure that our tax dollars are spent wisely while taking advantage of great opportunities that come our way. I will ensure that our community parks are in the best shape they can realistically be in. Lastly, I will listen to what the community wants and how the village can improve their quality of life.

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

I will use social media to summarize my thoughts on the committee and village board meetings to make them more accessible to our community. They will include my reasoning and thought process on any issues.

On especially contentious issues, I will hold community meetings to discuss the opposing viewpoints with all the information necessary. Most importantly, I will listen. I will listen to your thoughts and your ideas about what our village can do to improve and grow. If elected, I can proudly say that I am your servant.

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 add two more officers to Everest Metro Police Department, specifically for drug interdiction efforts and human trafficking cases. With the remainder, I would invest in our roads and give a massive boost to the areas that need it the most.

Why should voters choose you on April 2?

Voters should choose me because this is my home. I’ve lived here my whole life and want to give back and I believe that this is the best way for me to do that. Beyond that, I am an Eagle Scout. My word is my bond. I seek the best possible solution for our village, no matter where it comes from. I am your friend and neighbor, now and always.


Hooshang Zeyghami

Hooshang Zeyghami

Age: 77

Occupation: Professional engineer PE (retired)

Prior political experience: Past president of the Wausau Area Chamber of Commerce; Chairman of CDA – Community Development Authority; Vice chairman of the Planning Commission; Board member-South Area Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER); Board member -Everest Metro Joint Finance Committee

Education: BS – University of Wisconsin – Platteville, civil engineering; MS – Oklahoma State University – environmental engineering; Post grad studies – UW-Madison – environmental engineering

Community involvement: Past president of UWMC Foundation, board member; Board member of the Monk Botanical Gardens; Past president Wausau Kiwanis Noon Club; Past president of Youth Soccer in the area (introduced soccer to the area, 1980); Member of Strategic Planning Committee for the Greenheck Fieldhouse

Why are you running for office? 

As a member of the community for the past 40 years I have made contributions to the area through my engineering firm; and my upbringing taught me to help make the community the best place for one to live in. It is part of my mission in life to improve the quality of life where I live and I will work to be part of the solution.

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

The village’s facilities are aging and in need of immediate attention. The municipal center is over 50 years old and is outdated. The garage is unsafe for the people working there and it is undersized, significantly, for the amount of equipment we have. We need a SMART facility to meet today’s needs.

Which of Weston’s services most needs additional resources?

All areas of services are understaffed and all need additional resources. The major services the village provides to its residents are the police, fire and ambulance service, and public works. Each of these entities are a major part of the village’s operation and has to be staffed accordingly.

Should any part of Weston’s budget be shielded from cuts, if so, which area?

The public works budget cannot be cut. The village has not done street work over the past 10 years and the past winter has greatly impacted our roads. This is an area our community uses every day. It needs to be repaired or reconstructed. Therefore, the budget must be kept intact.

What is the most promising thing happening in Weston right now?

The Camp Phillips development is the most promising at this time. The other is the development of the sport complex facility, based on the outcome of the feasibility study.

Where do the biggest threats to Weston’s financial stability lie, and what should be done about them?

Weston’s board needs to monitor continuously its debt. It needs to consult with a financial advisor to make sure the lowest possible interest rate is being used, and that the payments are made on time.

What specifically, will you do to improve the quality of life for people in Weston?

The village has agreed with TDS company to provide high speed fiber optic capability for village residents. This will help bring our area into the 21st century. We need to keep our capital assets in good condition. We need a new municipal building and our roads need improvement, so there is not a repeat of this past spring flooding. We should provide the best police, fire and ambulance services possible to the village. We as a board need to find ways to do these things: providing good services with low taxes.

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

The board will video tape its meetings and the tapes will be available to the public through the public channel. If the public is interested, they can come to a meeting and there is a part on the agenda for the public to speak their mind or question the board. I will inform the Weston residents on the app “Next Door” and Facebook. They should also communicate with me. I am available by phone, 715-574-9400, or email me via the village website:

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

Landscaping the area from Birch Street to Ryan Street. This will be Improving the appearance of Schofield Avenue similar to E. Washington in Madison, Wisconsin. Doing these things would energize the people and the business in the community. It would help the community grow in worth.

Why should voters choose you on April  2?

I want to continue to see the community of Weston grow and I have years of business experience, which I apply when doing the village business. I understand the “financial statement.” As a professional engineer, the processes of planning, zoning and public works are part of my DNA.


Jon Ziegler 

Age: 56

Occupation: Marketing manager

Prior political experience: If being a trustee counts, I have been one since November of 1999. I took one year off.

Education: Graduate of St. Scholastica in business

Community involvement:

Why are you running for office?

I feel now is a great time to keep the village moving forward.

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

How do we maintain the tax rate while we keep improving our services and maintaining our infrastructure.

Which of Weston’s services most needs additional resources?

There really is no one area that is more deserving than others, but our infrastructure and police are always in need.

Should any part of Weston’s budget be shielded from cuts? And if so, which area?

Currently, Weston runs extremely lean in comparison to other communities our size.

What is the most promising thing happening in Weston right now?

We currently have new leadership that has grown from within, which is stabilizing staff and continues to move Weston forward.

Where do the biggest threats to Weston’s financial stability lie, and what should be done about them?

Currently, the state is the biggest threat to Weston with the cuts moving on shared revenue constantly.

What, specifically, will you do to improve the quality of life for people in Weston?

I wish I could improve the quality of life of Weston residents as one member of the board. We need more than the six trustees, village president and committees to improve the quality of life. We need the partners in the community, the school boards and all who have a role in improving the villages quality of life; and involved taxpayers.

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

All of our meetings are open and they can reach any trustee if they have questions or concerns.

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

If safety and infrastructure are the two biggest challenges, then the money should go there. Or do you send a rebate to all of the property tax payers? Tough choice.

Why should voters choose you on April 2?

I will give a voice to those who ask and make decisions based on costs to the taxpayers.

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