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Good Government Council: Eau Claire City Council Questionnaire District 5

When: Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024; 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 28th, 2024 and turned in no later than 8:00 p.m. on April 4th either by mail or dropped off in-person. In-Person absentee voting will start Tuesday, March 19th and end Friday, March 29th. This will take place at City Hall. You can vote Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you plan to vote by mail, voters are strongly encourage to mail their ballots as soon as possible to ensure their ballot is received by the deadline.

What it’s about:  There are 7 candidates running for the 5 district seats this April. The Eau Claire City Council includes 11 members who each serve a three-year term. The candidates include:

District 5: Andrew Werthmann (Incumbent), Mary Partlow

Who can vote: The election is open to all eligible voters in the Eau Claire Area School District.

Where you vote and who is on your ballot:

Go to
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.

Candidate Responses:

1. What are your background and qualifications for this position, and if elected, what will be your top three priorities in your term as a City Council Member?

Andrew Werthmann

I feel proud to have served our community on the Eau Claire City Council for the past 15 years – and share thanks with voters who have given me the opportunity. In my day job I work for a national non-profit on federal policy – focused on conservation.

On the issues: First, I want to make sure that we help people transition through this difficult time with the closing of Sacred Heart and Prevea. Second, those living without a roof over their head is something we have to focus on, and especially a Day Resource Center that would provide services, access to housing providers, and jobs for those who have the least in our community. Last, is that even though we are one of the fastest growing communities in Wisconsin, we need to keep our environment front and center. It’s one of the things that draws people here. I’m talking about our parks, our trees, our trails, our water, our clean air…. All of this matters and it improves the quality of life for our residents.

Mary Partlow

My Back ground is I have been a Advocate for 30 years , Was the Parent President of Head Start for the State of Wisconsin, Student Council -CVTC, Graduated from UW Stout in 2000 with a BA in HDFS My Top 3 Priorities will be Making Eau Claire fiscally healthy, Homeless/affordable housing and addiction/mental health. Life Experience.

2. What should the City’s role be in responding to the healthcare crisis created by the HSHS and Prevea closings?

Andrew Werthmann

While our City does not have the power to keep this tragedy from happening, that’s up to Sacred Heart and Prevea, what we can do is make sure they abide by the local laws in terms of notice to employees. And, I think importantly, is come together with the Chamber, Economic Development, County, health providers and others to work through a strategy on attracting new providers, helping people with training, landing new jobs, helping new startups, and more. The Chamber of Commerce has taken a strong leadership role on this and our City will step up to support that transition effort in whatever we can.

This tragedy points to a much more dire situation though – and long term I believe we need to re-think our healthcare system and what regulations are needed to keep this from happening again.

Mary Partlow

This is a hard question to answer for me only due to not knowing what we can and not do.. I would have to bring the people that are effected by this on all sides and see what can be done. This situation is bringing me back to the time Uniroyal closed, and I watch a city die. My hope is that this situation is not treated the same as that.

3. What specific actions, including, but not limited to, changes in the zoning code, should be taken by the City take to address the housing supply challenges facing Eau Claire?  

Andrew Werthmann

Our zoning overhaul, the Century Code Update, will go a long way to making it easier for developers to build more homes across our city. That’s a good thing. I would also like to see our incentives for affordable housing and for renovating older homes increased. Right now the $275,000 that we set in our yearly Affordable Housing Fund gets fully used, and 100% of the time is helping with gap funding for projects. But it’s not nearly enough. Our recent Housing Needs Study said that $1 million in the fund would make a dent. Of course to do that we need to make really hard choices. Last year, we ended up allocating money away from a brand new pavilion that was planned in 5 years in Fairfax Park, and putting it instead toward affordable housing. But even that choice was met with dismay but those who enjoy our parks. Lastly, many communities have had non-profit developers build affordable housing projects. We are sparse on that and I’d like to see how we can welcome that investment

Mary Partlow

Allowing different types of housing, Examples, Tiny home and Container homes.

4. What should be the City’s approach to addressing downtown issues such as parking and the unhoused population?

Andrew Werthmann

An active approach. Right now the City is not the lead, but we are a convener to help a few key things happen when it comes to helping those without a home. 1) is trying to get a Day Resource Center up and running. 2) is helping with some financial commitment and possible housing, a new Downtown Ambassador program to provide trained support, safety and intervention when it is needed. 3) is transit, because when you have strong transit, it helps people get to jobs, medical appointments, groceries, and see family and friends.

Mary Partlow

Working with the community on finding solutions being all that are effected to the table when it comes to the unhoused , The parking issue is stop building more apartments in the the downtown area.. It is a mess. The City Council at this time is trying to urbanize Eau Claire and I am not for that. Off of the top of my head I would think that parking ramps are going to have be built,

5. How and on which issues and services should the City work more collaboratively with Eau Claire County?

Andrew Werthmann

Beyond a shared Health Department and co-location of Police and Sheriff, I think our County and City are starting to work together a lot more on things. Things like helping the unhoused. I see collaboration on water quality issues like PFAS and testing. When it comes to welcoming new neighbors, especially refugees fleeing their homes from war, our County and City are collaborating. This hasn’t always been the case and its refreshing. I think that partnership will continue to grow as we understand that political boundaries are not what people care about – they just want local government to work together and work for them.

Mary Partlow

All, and also working with the community ,, The more Minds the better the solution

6. What is the City Council’s role in promoting economic development, business maintenance and commercial growth in the county?

Andrew Werthmann

Our Economic Development team is strong at the City, but that work is not done in a vacuum. The Chamber, DECI, Eau Claire County Economic Development and others work together to make sure Eau Claire is attracting high paying jobs in all sectors. One thing that I have always believed, is that if you focus on quality of life amenities, if you help create a community where people want to be, that will help lay the framework for business and business leaders who want to set up shop in your city. Eau Claire is all about that.

Mary Partlow

Everything. Like a puzzle each piece has its purpose . Affordable housing. links to jobs due to being able to live where you work.. Having people housed increases the labor pool, Being fiscal responsible opens more doors to giving new business tax breaks to let the business get a stronger start. Creating a stable and healthy environment brings growth. The biggest part is including the community. We as a city need to put needs above wants.

Posted by Mallory Williams Governmental Affairs Intern

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