Good Government Council: Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors District 14 Questioinnaire
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 14 include:
- Judy Gatlin (Incumbent)
- Wayne Peters
Who can vote: The election is open to all eligible voters who reside in District 14. 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?
Judy Gatlin: As the incumbent for District 14, I feel my experience and comprehension of EC county government structures and operations and budgets qualify me to serve. I do my homework so I can offer informed participation at committee and board meetings. I feel I offer respect and understanding of varying positions and viewpoints while engaging in governance.
Wayne Peters: I've been a county resident since1968. I started as North & Memorial Tech-Ed teacher. The last 48 yrs I've worked in real estate and several businesses and served in many Realtor, church and community organization positions. I'm a Founder member and past Director of the Eau Claire Community Foundation. I chaired the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority board for 8 yrs during which we bonded for housing loans.
I'm a successful businessman with wide variety of experience in real estate, housing, finance, industrial development, construction, zoning, etc. I have "skin in the game", and a strong desire to see our county well managed, fiscally responsible and transparent with our tax dollars.
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?
Judy Gatlin: The role of EC County is to first recover economically and socially from the pandemic. Keeping quality in the services EC county offers and continue to support and maintain the structures that make EC an attractive place to live and work. EC county should continue collaborating with other community agencies and organizations to not duplicate but to enhance the goals of recruiting and retaining a workforce. Ensuring quality public schools, friendly to businesses, and a commitment to healthy and safe neighborhoods.
Wayne Peters: We must maintain a good level of essential services, particularly law enforcement and roads, but also have reasonable and predictable taxes and transparent spending of all tax dollars. The County needs to reduce deficit spending! The County should be encouraging new businesses and growth, specifically Day Care, that we are short of, which would free up parents for employment. Explore expanding Huber work programs. County agencies should do more to move residents away from enablement and dependency, toward individual responsibility and independence, encouraging productive work.
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?
Judy Gatlin: Smart, safe, and healthy rezoning for development would be a County role and this could bring in high income level housing developments. Another role for the county is to work with the various agencies that seek landlords willing to rent at affordable prices for low income residents. The County should also continue it's role in recognizing the increasing number of persons with no home or shelter and what services and opportunities can reach those people.
Wayne Peters: County services required to develop, create and maintain housing need to be transparent, responsive and efficient, without unnecessary delays or requirements. County (and City) code requirements should be reviewed and modified as needed to provide more flexibility in creating and preserving housing and to lower costs required to maintain existing housing. The cost to pump septic systems has recently doubled, as an example, due to regulations. Fees for permits, etc, need to be reasonable.
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?
Judy Gatlin: Priority would be funding a day center with learning and training and shelter for homeless people who are able to improve their condition with shelter and then work. Priority would be a system of applications to grant funding to the many and diversified groups and structures that need funding that can be maintained to recovery from the devastation of the pandemic. An investment and collaboration with the City and the University and the Board of Education into a child care center for employees.
Wayne Peters: 1. I'd like the moneys allocated, as much as creatively possible, to cover expenses or improvements which county taxpayers would otherwise need to fund - either presently or in the future. The present $106,161,103. in present bond debt and deficit spending (accumulated by the present board majority) will require higher taxes. We should apply as much ARPA funds as possible to lessen that impact, and thus equitably distribute the benefit while at the same time, helping keep the County desirable and affordable
2. To the extent it can be used to reduce or eliminate future county operating expenses, it should be used for those purposes.
3.To the extent it cannot be used as noted above, use it to assist starting or restart day care centers so more parents can get back to work.
5.) If elected, what will be your top three priorities in your term as a County Board Member?
Judy Gatlin: First, remain on the HR committee and find ways to raise real wages for all county employees and find lower cost benefits.
Second, find ways to reach out to the community and lead them to the information the reveals the accountability and transparency of County operations so many are saying they are looking for. Encourage the public to engage with county operations and make suggestions.
Last, support holistic and inclusive operations, civility and support among departments.
Wayne Peters: 1. Reduce deficit spending and bonding (borrowing)! The 2022 budget has $14,656,311. being funded by bond debt. This level of borrowing needs to stop. We must do better to live within our means.
2. Reduce long term debt! The County owes over 106 million in long term bond debt which has been increasing annually. That's about $1,000. per county resident, and in excess of the County's own debt limit. In 2022 we will pay 15.37million in principal and interest payments. This trend needs to stop and we need to be working our debt down.
3, Require financial transparency and accountability in all departments. The lack of this allowed the Lokken embezzlement. There's no good reason County employees and agencies can't be financially open and transparent as to how taxpayer's money is being spent.
Posted by Danya Morman, Governmental Affairs Intern