Good Government Council: Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors District 12 Questionnaire
When: Tuesday, April 5th, 2022; polls open 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Find your voting location at myvote.wi. All absentee ballots must be requested by March 31st, 2022 and turned in no later than 8:00 p.m. on April 5th either by mail or dropped off in-person. In-Person absentee voting will start Tuesday, March 22nd and end Friday, April 1st. You can vote early Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you plan to vote by mail, voters are strongly encouraged to mail their ballots as soon as possible to ensure their ballot is received by the deadline.
What it's about: The County Board has 29 members, with each member representing around 3,645 people. Each member represents one of the 29 districts and serves a two year term. All 29 seats are up for election this spring. The candidates for District 12 include:
- Brett Geboy
- David Lehmkuhl
Who can vote: The election is open to all eligible voters who reside in District 12. Click here to find your district.
Where you vote and who is on your ballot:
- Go to myvote.wi.gov
- Enter your voting address to learn which races are on your ballot and where you vote.
Why this questionnaire: The Good Government Council (GGC) is a committee of the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce dedicated to encouraging voter participation and providing members of the business community with non-biased information about candidates’ positions on important issues. Although the Chamber is active in policy issues, it is non-partisan and does not endorse political candidates.
1.) What are your background and qualifications for this position, and what value will you bring to the County Board personally?
Brett Geboy: Having county supervisors with a variety of backgrounds and skill sets will help the county in making decisions that benefit ALL county residents – I believe my experiences and background will add a new voice to the county board.
I have lived in Eau Claire since 2000 with my wife and three daughters. I was a lobbyist with the American Cancer Society working on behalf of those fighting cancer and then worked as the Government Relations Director at the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce before moving to the private sector managing sales and marketing for commercial contracting company North Central Insulation. I worked with all levels of government in my previous roles and have an understanding of how government works.
I currently help area individuals struggling with addiction at Hope Gospel Mission. I enjoy working for a mission minded organization and making a positive impact in the community. I love living in Eau Claire and enjoy all the things the Chippewa Valley has to offer!
David Lehmkuhl: My background is with agriculture and economics, having a BS in Agriculture Mechanized Ag and an MS in Agriculture Economics. I have held various leadership roles in the banking industry, extension service, the US Air Force and numerous service organizations and community groups. I have served as an Eau Claire Chamber Ambassador as well as an economic support specialist with Eau Claire County. My background of working with all populations and willingness to listen to all points of view will aid me in working collaboratively with our government leaders. I have experienced times of high inflation and challenges that accompany inflation. We will need to be diligent in fiscal management to effectively distribute our limited resources.
2.) With a strong local economy and low unemployment, many employers report difficulty in filling positions. What is the role of Eau Claire County in attracting more people to the community, and ensuring that the County is an attractive place to live and work?
Brett Geboy: I believe people are already being attracted to Eau Claire County, as it is currently great place to live and work. Employers have had to offer more incentives to attract and retain employees with pay, time off, flexibility and other benefits. The number one thing the county can do is make sure broadband infrastructure and access is available throughout the county. As more employees are able to work from home broadband is a necessity. Continuing to promote this area – the beauty, quality of life and safety will help attract people. I would love (but can’t) to tweak the weather a bit in January – March!
David Lehmkuhl: We need to showcase the quality of life in Eau Claire County. I believe providing quality health care and child care are key to economic development . The pandemic had many child care providers leaving the industry, so the county needs to provide incentives for businesses to improve child care access.
I am a firm believer that education is a key to solving problems. We need to provide educational seminars in working with local unions, technical colleges and our education institutions to ensure we are training citizens to meet the needs of employers struggling to fill positions.
3.) The Chippewa Valley Housing Task Force found that the community is experiencing housing supply challenges at all income levels and housing types. What should the County’s role be in expanding housing supply within areas of its jurisdiction?
Brett Geboy: The county comprehensive plan identifies challenges related to housing shortages and a plan for development, which look reasonable. I think the most helpful thing the county can do is make it easier for developers and builders to meet this demand. If the development goes along with the comprehensive plan and the county can reduce any red tape or delays with permitting and other issues, they provide the housing needed. We are seeing a lot of development right now of single and multi-family units which will help with the supply. As the supply catches up with the demand we should see more affordable housing.
David Lehmkuhl: The County Planning and Zoning Departments need to work with landowners and developers to ensure we protect of land and water resources while expanding our housing supply.
There needs to be a balance of affordable, multi-housing units for low income and seniors, along with single family units.
Grants are needed for low-income housing. With housing costs rising, many of our most needy families and residents are being priced out of the market for buying or renting affordable housing.
4.) The County is in the process of determining how to spend over $20 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Over $4 million has already been committed to broadband and to assistance for non-profits and small businesses. What are your thoughts on the priorities for the deployment of the remaining $15 million of funds?
Brett Geboy: I would hope to allocate to 3 main areas:
- The priority should be helping entities that have been hardest hit by COVID financially. Any small businesses, non-profits, individuals that can show being negatively impacted should be helped.
- Money should also be used for improving infrastructure to better position the county for future growth and challenges. Broadband access for areas that are underserved, safe roads and drinking/wastewater infrastructure should be looked at.
- I have seen firsthand the negative effects COVID has had on all people – adults and children. Depression, suicide, substance abuse and increasing mental health issues are continuing to increase. Some funds need to be used to address these issues.
David Lehmkuhl: Many small businesses have been impacted during the past two years of dealing with the pandemic. Awarding grants to those businesses struggling to recover from the pandemic by assisting them in expansions and hiring back employees.
We should ensure that charitable organizations are included in receiving grants to help them retain their employees and provide a wage that is competitive in today’s tight labor market.
We also need to be implementing other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar into our current and future building. We need to offer grants from the American Rescue Plan to help businesses determine viability of switching to renewable energy.
5.) If elected, what will be your top three priorities in your term as a County Board Member?
Brett Geboy: Let me start by saying that if we do not get a handle on the skyrocketing inflation and energy costs we have seen this past year, we are going to have many more challenges!
- Fiscal responsibility:
- Reducing the county's high debt service.
- Ensure proper checks and balances are in place in handling taxpayer money. Unfortunately, the county has a less than stellar track record with our money starting with Larry Loken.
- Live within our means - not raising taxes. We can increase the tax base through smart development.
- Explore more shared service options with the city to reduce costs.
- Economic Development:
- Expand broadband in rural areas
- Expand highway T between North Crossing and HWY 29
- Make Eau Claire County more 'user friendly' in attracting new businesses
- Support local law enforcement and their efforts in providing a safe community
David Lehmkuhl: I am running for County Board because I have the leadership qualities and experience to collaboratively work with our current county leaders – elected and professional employees – to implement the strategic plan initiatives to:
Optimize resident’s health and safety
Protect and enhance our natural resources
Provide and improve high speed broadband services to rural parts of the County
Posted by Danya Morman, Governmental Affairs Intern