Good Government Council: Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors District 20 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 20 include:
- Nathan Anderson (Incumbent)
- John Folstad
Who can vote: The election is open to all eligible voters who reside in District 1. 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?
Nathan Anderson: I have served on the county board for three years, and I really appreciate getting the chance to learn about all the amazing things the county does—from plowing rural highways to providing mental health support for residents who need it. It’s an honor to work with high-integrity colleagues to help solve problems for the community. I work as a professional artist, so I bring outside-of-the-box thinking to my board service, as well as an environmental impact lens and a belief that local government should serve the common good of all.
I have been a Registered Nurse in the area for 40 years and I was a Deputy Medical Examiner in Eau Claire County for 24 years. This experience has allowed me to witness many of the socioeconomic and health care challenges facing the citizens of Eau Claire County. I have a good understanding of local emergency services and I previously helped coordinate the expansion of the City of Eau Claire’s EMS services into several of the townships and communities surrounding the city. I have also been a member of County, Regional and State Emergency Medical Services boards.
I have extensive experience with developing and implementing budgets at a director level, executive level, and board level. I held numerous leadership positions at Sacred Heart Hospital, and I was the Vice President of Strategy when I retired in 2018. I was a member of the Life Link Medical Transportation Board of Directors for 10 years and served as the chairman of this board for three years.
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?
Nathan Anderson: The county government should continue to use its strengths in providing high quality services to keep Eau Claire County the safe and beautiful place that it is. Another strength in our community is the collaborative spirit. The County should continue to grow its partnerships with the City, the University, the Chamber, and other community organizations and businesses to ensure that Eau Claire is a magnet for workers and is a vibrant and affordable place to raise a family or start a business.
John Folstad: I believe safety is a key quality that people look for when selecting a community to live and work in. The County plays a key role in the safety of the community by having a well trained and properly funded Sheriff’s Department. Taxes are also a very important issue for people when choosing a community to live in. I believe that the County needs to decrease its level of debt, since currently about 35% of the tax levy goes to servicing the debt. Services and roads cannot be maintained at an optimal level when this amount of the tax levy is being used to service the debt.
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?
Nathan Anderson: It’s important for the County Board to listen to county staff and community members in regard to zoning and new projects. We need new construction to build homes and to balance these changes with preserving the high quality of life that attracts workers.
John Folstad: The County can help address this issue by keeping taxes at a reasonable level and making the approval of new residential and apartment housing complexes an expeditious and efficient process.
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?
Nathan Anderson: We are living through time of great change and uncertainty, so developing a responsive, efficient process for making funding allocations is key. Of course we should align our financial commitments with our values, like building a strong economy, protecting our environment, and providing high quality government services. But we need to be aware that things are changing and look for opportunities to maximize the reach of these valuable public dollars.
John Folstad: I support the use of a portion of this money to expand broadband to all areas of the County. If the $4 million is not adequate I would support committing what additional funds are needed to assure the project is completed in an optimal manner. The broadband is imperative for educational and work related activities in the future. Addressing the current mental health and drug and alcohol issues present in the County should be another priority. I support the development of transitional housing and skill training programs in the County for people dealing with these issues. Since it is my understanding that this money cannot be used for road projects, I would support using some of the money for the enhancement of County parks.
5.) If elected, what will be your top three priorities in your term as a County Board Member?
Nathan Anderson: My priorities as a board member will continue to be:
1. Learn everything that I can to help make evidence based decisions
2. Listen–Hear all sides of an issue, with the goal of finding win-win solutions when possible
3. Question my own assumptions and beliefs and work with the community, colleagues and county staff to make informed and well reasoned decisions.
John Folstad: 1. Increase transparency and accountability around the budgeting and spending practices in the County.
2. Work at decreasing the County’s debt, so less tax dollars will be required to service the debt.
3. Address the mental health and substance abuse problems in the County.
Posted by Brianna Franke, Governmental Affairs Intern