Good Government Council: Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors District 17 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 17 include:
- Mary Sommerfeld
- Thomas Vue
Who can vote: The election is open to all eligible voters who reside in District 17. 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?
Mary Sommerfeld: As a retired RN I have dealt with many situations requiring negotiation, decision making and problem solving. I have sat on various committees, contributed to positive outcomes. Life experience and use of common sense is an important qualification for sitting on the county board which has such an impact on the lives of all its citizens.
Thomas Vue: I am a long time resident of Eau Claire. I have over 9 years experience of city government, was a city council for 9 years. I am a Hmong in which brings the racial and diversity aspect that is needed for the county government leadership. I am a landlord. I have the unique qualification and experience. My qualification and experience will improve the quality of life for the people of this county: Economy, Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom.
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?
Mary Sommerfeld: Lowering taxes and reducing regulations would make it easier for employers to offer higher wages and offer benefits they might not be able to offer at this time. Open the meetings to employers and the public, let them have input with their ideas. There are many things we can do, we need to get together, exchange ideas and come up with a workable common sense plan.
Thomas Vue: Maintaining a good economy is vital to our people and our county. The public and private sectors, meaning the county government and the chamber of commerce need to work together to reach out to the workforce base around the county to bring labor force to fill the jobs we have here in this county and this state. We are not doing enough to make known and attract the diverse workforce around the county. We need to go beyond our typical mainstream outreach because labor force in the mainstream domain is diminishing.
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?
Mary Sommerfeld: Here again, lowering taxes on home owners so more can purchase a home. Reduce taxes and the strict regulations on responsible landlords would give them an incentive to lower rates. Again, open the board meetings for transparency, give the citizens the opportunity to share their ideas. Work together to come up with a common sense workable plan.
Thomas Vue: We need to have a deepest and good understanding of the problem. Not only that, but we also need to support the Wisconsin timber industries that products the housing goods and materials that we need for housing. Our timber industrials have been high cost and we cannot allow this to happen when housing development is needed. I want to work on county funding and regulations that can overcome the housing material shortage.
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?
Mary Sommerfeld: The smaller communities outside of Eau Claire often get forgotten, they could put in programs for their elderly, their vets and their handicapped with some of these funds. One person in my district asked for help in recruiting volunteers to assist first responders who are stretched very thin. No matter what is done with these funds it needs to be done with fiscal responsibility and accountability and transparency.
Thomas Vue: I want to look at the remain needs of our county and allocate that remaining $15 million of funds. As mentioned here: labor shortage, housing supplies diminishing (high cost), needs of diverse racial populations are among funding needs and we need to make the best use of these dollars we have.
5.) If elected, what will be your top three priorities in your term as a County Board Member?
Mary Sommerfeld: Number one is taxes, lower taxes to give some relief for the inflation we are experiencing. Accountability and transparency with how our taxes are being spent. Accessibility: the board needs to be open to the public. Constituents should be welcome to address their concerns to the board in person and they should receive a response from their district supervisor regarding their concerns. Thank you.
Thomas Vue: Dealing with labor shortage; housing issues; support for health and mental health needs.
Posted by Danya Morman, Governmental Affairs Intern