Weston voters in April will choose three trustees from a slate of five candidates to serve two-year terms on the Village of Weston Board. Incumbents Barb Ermeling, Nate Fiene and Jon Ziegler are each seeking another term. Challengers Steve Cronin and Hooshang Zeyghami are also on the ballot. Mark Maloney is unopposed as he seeks another term as village president. We asked each candidate for contested seats to answer a set of identical questions and submit a photo for publication in advance of the April 6 election. Here are their answers, in alphabetical order.
Occupation: Local small business owner
Prior political experience and/or community involvement: I am a citizen member of the village of Weston plan commission. Is prior political experience a requirement to run for a local office? I think it’s more important to be engaged and educated on local issues instead of partisan politics.
Education: Degree in emergency medical services through Northcentral Technical College. Graduate of D.C. Everest High School class of ’09.
Why are you running for office? I am running for office because I disagree with the current proposed municipal center project. While there is a need for this project, the current proposal is excessive and overbuilt. The village needs to get the cost down to a manageable level for our taxpayers (our bosses), especially on the heels of a pandemic. As a father of two little girls, I also want to see the village continue to be a great place to raise a family.
What is the biggest challenge facing Weston in the next five years? How would you address that? The biggest challenge will be the new municipal center project. This project will raise taxes for the next five years and beyond. There is a major disconnect between residents, village staff and some of the board members in regards to why this project is needed. The village has to be transparent and include the public on these discussions.
If elected, I will work to resolve this disconnect by helping the public understand the need for this project and working with other board members, as well as staff, to come up with a solution that serves the villages needs for a price we can all afford.
Do you see Weston’s business community as a healthy one? If not, what would you do to change that? Yes and no. While we have seen a number of new developments come into the village in recent years, there is a perception in the business community that Weston is difficult to work with when it comes to new developments. I have witnessed this firsthand on the Plan commission because of our ordinances and building code. This needs to change, and while I have worked to make a few of these changes over the past 10 months on the plan commission, there is more work that needs to be done.
If someone came to you with a proposal to build a new piece of public infrastructure in Weston (road, bridge, etc.), how would you evaluate whether that project was worth implementing? I would argue there are four criteria that need to be evaluated when considering a project like this.
1. Is there a need for the project?
2. Can the village afford the project without a substantial tax increase?
3. Do the residents understand the need for the project and approve of moving the project forward? Ultimately they will pay for it.
4. Are residents OK with the projected tax increase (if needed) to pay for the project?
If elected, what three steps would you take to put Weston on a firmer financial footing?
1. Work toward ensuring the villages two TID districts expire as planned. Doing so will allow a portion of tax dollars from properties currently in these districts to flow into the village’s general fund, increasing funds available to provide services to our residents without raising taxes.
2. Work with other neighboring municipalities to share services and equipment.
3. Curb wasteful spending. Do we need a Cadillac or a Chevy to accomplish the same goal?
One of the most important characteristics of a leader is the ability to see both sides of an issue and work to compromise. Give an example of when you did that. The village has a sidewalk ordinance that mandates any reconstructed streets or undeveloped properties must have sidewalks on both sides of the street. This has been a discussion point for numerous recent developments. I have always been in favor of this ordinance as Weston is a growing community and sidewalks help keep our community safer for families and children. During a summer 2020 plan commission meeting a property owner came in and was requesting that he not be required to install sidewalks. I was initially opposed especially given the fact that this development was along Schofield Avenue. Upon learning that the property owner would not meet proper setbacks if the sidewalks were installed and the right of way didn’t provide adequate space for this, we compromised by granting the property owner this request and only requiring that sidewalks be installed on the east side of the road.
What else would you like voters to know about you? Of the four opponents running against me, three currently serve on the Board of Trustees, the fourth has previously served on the Board of Trustees, one of them is a former village employee, and another has a long history of doing business with the village. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I would like to see different results for the future of this community, don’t you? You can decide to change the trajectory of this village. I would appreciate your vote on April 6.
Prior political experience and/or community involvement: I have served the village of Weston as their clerk/treasurer, trustee and village president. I currently serve on the board as a trustee.
Education: I graduated from Wausau High School, took some business courses at NTC and the Green Bay Institute where I earned my certifications for municipal clerk and municipal treasurer.
Why are you running for office? I am running for office because I like serving the people of Weston. I think it is important we continue to move forward as a village. Providing the needed infrastructure. We need to continue working with other municipalities in hopes of combining services to use the taxpayers money in the most efficient manner.
What is the biggest challenge facing Weston in the next five years? How would you address that? The biggest challenge for all municipalities is to continue to provide services to residence under the state’s regulations. The state of Wisconsin continues to lower shared revenue and highway aids. We need the state to increase shared revenue and highway aids. Weston receives less shared revenue and highway aids then what we (have) in the past years. We also need to continue to look at ways to improve how we provide service to lower the costs.
Do you see Weston’s business community as a healthy one? If not, what would you do to change that? COVID has put a strain on all communities. Some businesses continue to grow, while others are still struggling. In some business areas we need to find ways to promote development. The Village of Weston’s Planning Commission has been working with planning and design consultants MD Roffers Consultants on a Schofield Avenue Corridor Plan.
If someone came to you with a proposal to build a new piece of public infrastructure in Weston (road, bridge, etc.), how would you evaluate whether that project was worth implementing? First I would ask the zoning department to review the proposal to see if it would fit into our comprehensive plan. The Planning Commission would have to review the proposal also, and give their recommendation to the Village Board. I would also want to know what the maintenance cost would be. Sometimes the maintenance costs exceed the benefits.
If elected, what three steps would you take to put Weston on a firmer financial footing? I would continue to review the budget as proposed. Question increases with staff. Talk to state representatives about bills that will impact the village. Explore with the board possible municipalities agreements.
One of the most important characteristics of a leader is the ability to see both sides of an issue and work to compromise. Give an example of when you did that. A board that works together is far more effective at solving problems. Recently, we discussed the opening of the pool this summer. I had concerns over the cost. After a good discussion, where my issues were addressed, I voted to open the pool with the majority of the board. There have been times I did not agree with a proposal, I gave my reasons why, however if the majority of the board voted for the proposal, I respected that decision.
What else would you like voters to know about you? Representing the village has been a privilege. I have always tried to make myself available to answer any questions. If you call and I am not available, leave a message, I will return your call. I will give you an honest response. You may or may not like my answer, but it will be an honest answer.
I would appreciate being allowed to continue to serve the village of Weston.
Occupation: Medical bill review office assistant at Liberty Mutual
Prior political experience and/or community involvement: Board member of the Wausau Hmong-American Center, first term on Weston Village Board
Education: Bachelor’s (degree) majoring in political science from UW-Green Bay, 2016, Master’s of Public Administration with an emphasis in local government from St. Cloud State University in 2018
Why are you running for office? I’m running for office because Weston is my home and I want to see it reach even greater heights. I want to rebuild our roads, improve water and sewer quality, strengthen our police department while being a bridge to our Hmong community, and continue to be a friend to local business.
What is the biggest challenge facing Weston in the next five years? How would you address that? The two biggest challenges are interrelated: increasing demand for services and state-imposed fiscal hardships. In order to meet those challenges head on, I would push the state Legislature to send more financial aid to Weston and relieve the burden on taxpayers, seek a merger of SAFER and Riverside Fire departments, as well as combining Everest Metro PD with Rothschild PD, continue to work to attract businesses to the area, and utilize public-private partnerships if the appropriate situation arises.
Do you see Weston’s business community as a healthy one? If not, what would you do to change that? I believe it to be a healthy community. I consider myself a friend to business and will work with the business community to find a solution on issues great and small.
If someone came to you with a proposal to build a new piece of public infrastructure in Weston (road, bridge, etc.), how would you evaluate whether that project was worth implementing? The first issue would be one of legitimate need: if there’s no need for it, then there’s no reason to build it. The second issue is one of cost: if it is prohibitively expensive, then the public’s money is better spent elsewhere. The final evaluation is aiding the village’s services: if the new infrastructure makes businesses more accessible, enhances public transportation, and/or aids public safety, then that requirement is met. In order for me to be in favor of that piece of infrastructure, it must pass each of those tests.
If elected, what three steps would you take to put Weston on a firmer financial footing? The first thing I would do is work with our neighboring municipalities as equals to combine or consolidate services to the greatest extent possible. I think that Riverside and SAFER combining, along with Everest Metro PD and Rothschild PD, will decrease response time, save taxpayer money and maintain efficient services. The second thing I would do is continue to market Weston to businesses looking to expand. The third thing I would do is lobby our state and federal representatives for more aid. The state of Wisconsin isn’t balancing its books on Wisconsin municipalities-it is breaking our backs.
One of the most important characteristics of a leader is the ability to see both sides of an issue and work to compromise. Give an example of when you did that. I believe the best examples of my working to compromise come from the Weston Aquatic Center. I voted to open the WAC last year and this year after making sure that it was possible to do so safely. That was my first concern. I then spoke with Steve Cronin, who runs the concession stand, to ensure that he would not take a catastrophic loss because that is not fair to him. Lastly, with those two flanks covered, I asked staff to report any issues or concerns that might crop up. By working with village staff, local business and the health department, I voted to open up the Weston Aquatic Center twice during a pandemic.
What else would you like voters to know about you? I am a son of Weston and have grown up here, graduating from DCE in 2012. I would like voters to know that I believe that their vote and trust is indescribably important to me. I work hard for each and every person day in and day out, doing the best I can to make Weston an even better place to live and work. I meet our neighboring municipal leaders in good faith and as equals to ensure that our partnerships work efficiently and fairly. Those leaders have taken note and support my re-election. I have endorsements from the following elected officials:
Marathon County Sheriff Scott Parks, County Board Vice Chairman Craig McEwen, County Supervisor Tom Rosenberg, County Supervisor Will Harris, County Supervisor Bill Conway, County Supervisor Jonathan Fischer, County Supervisor Jeff Johnson, County Supervisor and DCE School Board Member Yee Leng Xiong, Schofield Alderwoman Kristin Conway, Schofield Alderman Dennis Richmond, Schofield Alderwoman Kari Carroll, Judge Dan Cveykus, John Robinson
Occupation: Retired civil/environmental engineer
Prior political experience and/or community involvement:
Former trustee for the village of Weston
Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission
Planning Board Member
Public Works Board Member
Past President and Foundation Board Member of UWSP at Wausau
President of Monk Botanical Gardens
Education: Bachelor of Science, UW- Platteville – Civil Engineering
Master of Science, Oklahoma State University – Civil Engineering
Post Graduate Studies UW-Madison- Environmental Studies
Why are you running for office? Living in the village of Weston for 40 years and having a home, family and running a business in the village, I have been involved in many of the village projects. As an engineer I have a good understanding of the village’s needs and requirements. I feel that as a resident of the village; one should find time to serve the community and I would like to use my experiences to serve the village and its residents.
What is the biggest challenge facing Weston in the next five years? How would you address that? Improving our water quality in the village of Weston. This can be accomplished by providing a water treatment plant at each of the wells. The project can be accomplished without affecting our tax base.
A second project is the need for the village of Weston to make a new municipal center. The existing facility is 75 years old, and the public work facility is outdated and under design. At the moment it is too small for the work that the personnel has to do on a daily basis. The municipal building should be bid out with several alternatives. We can select the alternatives, which would make the project more feasible and economical.
We don’t want to build a Taj Mahal, however, we want to build a building that is pleasing to the eye and (economical).
Improvements to be made to Weston Avenue and Schofield Avenue; both of these streets are in the TIF district and this project could be accomplished without affecting the tax base.
Do you see Weston’s business community as a healthy one? If not, what would you do to change that? Weston’s business community was healthy before COVID-19. COVID-19 affected all of the business community. By promoting the people in the community to receive the vaccination, we can get the people back to work, and improve the economy in the area.
If someone came to you with a proposal to build a new piece of public infrastructure in Weston (road, bridge, etc.), how would you evaluate whether that project was worth implementing? If someone came to me and asked about an infrastructure improvement for the village, I would suggest the following should be done:
A feasibility study on the project
- Will the project help the economical development of the area?
- Does the community have a need for the project?
- What is the affect on the village’s tax base?
- How will the community use it?
If elected, what three steps would you take to put Weston on a firmer financial footing? The three steps to take to put the Village of Weston on a firmer financial footing are to:
1. Review financial statements
2. Cut all unnecessary expenditures be accomplished in the next five years
3. Do the projects which must be done in the next five years
One of the most important characteristics of a leader is the ability to see both sides of an issue and work to compromise. Give an example of when you did that. When you compromise nobody goes home happy, however, everyone goes home with something.
An example would be the Business Highway 51 project done last year. It was a compromise with our state representative and the Department of Transportation. Everyone agreed to overlay the roads as soon as possible; and then to complete reconstruction in 2024.
Occupation: Target store manager
Prior political experience and/or community involvement: I have been on the Village Board since 1999. I was asked to fill a vacancy by Villas Machmueller. I have been elected since 2000. I took one year off to handle extra work as a Target store manager. I have been on multiple boards and assisted the village in getting multiple grants.
Education: I graduated from St. Scholastica College in Duluth Minnesota
Why are you running for office: I am running for office to serve the taxpayers and continue to guide fiscal responsibility in the village budget.
What is the biggest challenge facing Weston in the next five years? How would you address that? Our greatest challenge will be to assure we maintain our services without burdening our taxpayers.
Do you see Weston’s business community as a healthy one? If not, what would you do to change that? Weston’s business climate is healthy and we need to advocate for its continued growth by making sure Weston gives the appropriate resources to allow expansion without unneeded policies.
If someone came to you with a proposal to build a new piece of public infrastructure in Weston (road, bridge, etc.), how would you evaluate whether that project was worth implementing? Determine if there is need for public infrastructure and, if so, make certain the project will add value to the tax base.
If elected, what three steps would you take to put Weston on a firmer financial footing? Currently Weston is on firm financial ground. By making sure our TIFs are producing properly our strategies to fund are appropriate in relation to the services we need. Finally, we are fair and consistent when we work with local businesses.
One of the most important characteristics of a leader is the ability to see both sides of an issue and work to compromise. Give an example of when you did that. On the compromise side, I have been married to a wonderful woman for 32 years.
What else would you like voters to know about you? My wife works for the school district. My daughters both graduated from DCE and college while both going on to successful careers in Milwaukee and Chicago. Weston is home for us.