Good Government Council: Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors District 3 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 3 include:
- Joe Knight (Incumbent)
- Gary Mizer
Who can vote: The election is open to all eligible voters who reside in District 3. 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.
Unfortunately, we received no response from Gary Mizer.
1.) What are your background and qualifications for this position, and what value will you bring to the County Board personally?
Joe Knight: I used to be a reporter covering environmental issues and was familiar with the Parks and Forest Committee and Planning and Development Committee. I have since served on both committees. Towards the end of my newspaper career, as the staff shrank, I became the reporter covering the full board, which provided a broader perspective. That said, the county board is involved in so many different things it would be difficult to find someone with a background in everything. But I try to keep an open mind, read the background material in the agenda packet and listen to arguments from all sides, then cast a vote for what I think is best, long-term, for the county and my district.
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?
Joe Knight: The county board does contribute to the EDC, perhaps not as much as they would like. We have a good airport for a community this size. The county has ski trails, snowmobile trails, bike routes, canoeing, boating, parks, and 52,000 acre county forest where you can be on a bow stand 40 minutes after leaving work, Places like Boise and Bozeman have attracted people because of outdoor opportunities. The county’s job is to manage its natural assets well. Did I mention that the county forest generates about $1 million in timber revenues annually and provides jobs in the eastern end of the county. The cities of Eau Claire have a bustling arts and restaurant scene, without New York Prices. One thing that employers could do to help recruit workers is to pay the help a little more.
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?
Joe Knight: One thing the county board can do is to follow our own comprehensive plan, which allows more rural homes in the transition zone where city meets the country. We haven’t always done that. I was in the minority who voted to rezone land in what was called the Orchard Hill (Ridge?) development. I thought it was good from an environmental standpoint — have homes closer together, serviced by a communal sewage treatment unit, while maintaining some larger green spaces, and have everyone live closer to the city where they work and play.
Staff recommended rezoning.
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?
Joe Knight: I would hope that most of it would go to small businesses that were blind-sided by Covid, particularly restaurants, music and arts venues — places that had to close their doors during the peak of the pandemic.
Some should go to parks and lake districts. Parks and beaches saw record use during the pandemic as people looked for outdoor activities that were close to home and not too expensive.
5.) If elected, what will be your top three priorities in your term as a County Board Member?
Joe Knight: Develop a routine dredging program for Lake Altoona, and reduce numbers days beaches are closed due to high bacteria counts and the numbers of blue-green algae blooms on Lake Altoona. (The northern side of Lake Altoona is in my district).
Have the landfill expansion equitably resolved. (The landfill is also in my district).
Posted by Danya Morman, Governmental Affairs Intern