District 1 Candidates
The Good Government Council sent out a questionnaire to all candidates running for the five Eau Claire City Council district seats up for election this spring. You may read their responses below.
Emily Berge is the Incumbent council member for District 1. Although she is running unopposed, she still completed the candidate questionnaire so voters can see her comments on these issues.
Q1. What are your background and qualifications for this position, and what value will you bring to the City Council personally?
Emily Berge: I have lived in Eau Claire since 2002. I have a degree in Human Development and Family Studies from UW-Stout. After serving in Americorps, I went back to UW-Stout for my master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. I am currently a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice where I see individuals, couples, and families for outpatient counseling. I have lived in Eau Claire as a commuting university student, young professional, business owner, and parent. My husband and I find Eau Claire to be the perfect place to raise our family.
I have two college degrees based in understanding people and building relationships. I work everyday at listening to understand, building relationships and helping people reach their goals. I have served on City Council since 2018 and have learned a great deal about local government and I look forward to building upon this knowledge and experience for my next term on City Council.
Q2. In dealing with health issues like COVID-19, how should the City Council balance the health needs of the community with the economic needs of businesses?
Emily Berge: We address the physical and economic health of our community by following science, engaging with different sectors of our community and listening to healthcare leaders. The City Council passed a resolution to form a task force to do just this.
A healthy community begets economic prosperity for all. Employees can't work if they are sick or taking care of sick family members. People with healthcare costs will have less to spend in our community. It is all interconnected.
I know it has been a tough year for our businesses. I have seen local businesses pivot and get creative. I have seen partnerships and collaboration between local government, business organizations, and businesses themselves. I am really proud of how the Eau Claire business community has responded to this tough year. In fact, I have heard from several people who will drive several miles to shop in Eau Claire because they feel like businesses care about their wellbeing and are taking the proper precautions.
Q3. What is the role of the City Council in addressing the housing shortage in Eau Claire?
Emily Berge: The role of the City Council is to pass policies to ensure housing for all levels of socioeconomic status. A few possible policies include: have new developments be composed of a compact mix of housing types and sizes, adopt a TIF policy that utilizes the affordable housing extension provision, and utilize existing TIF resources to strategically advance housing priorities wherever available. There are many possible solutions in zoning policies as well: transition to more "form-based" standards, "upzoning" in appropriate areas, and look at parking requirements.
The City Council has made affordable and attainable housing a priority over the last 2 - 3 years. While state law disallows the city to require developers to create affordable housing there are robust housing task force recommendations which the newly created Housing Committee will manage and expand on. Currently the HOC and council are working together on how public money can be used to reach these goals.
Q4. Some issues that the City Council has debated in the past have been criticized as topics more appropriate to be dealt with on a state or national level. Others agree that Council members should spend time on any issue they believe is important to the community. What is your view on determining which issues are appropriate for the Council's time and attention?
Emily Berge: I think the city’s strategic plan is the ideal method to determine what is appropriate for the Council’s time and attention. These are: support economic prosperity for all which includes inclusive housing options; provide safe, functional and sustainable infrastructure; optimize the city’s organizational potential; develop healthy and connected neighborhoods, facilitate an engaged community; nurture community wide learning opportunities; and make Eau Claire livable, loveable and fun. My personal vision is for Eau Claire to be welcoming for all and that no matter where you come from, Eau Claire is a great place to work, live, and play.
Also, it should be noted that any two council members can put something on the agenda to be discussed and voted on, and council members may have differing opinions on what is worthy of council’s time and attention.
Q5. What will be your top three priorities in your term as a City Council Member?
Emily Berge: Something I have worked hard at in the last three years and will continue to focus on is building bridges. This bridge building has been with neighborhoods, community organizations, businesses, and local government entities plus many more. I am also doing what I can to make sure Eau Claire is welcoming to all; a lot of this work is building trust based relationships and ensuring representation at decision making tables. And lastly, as the vaccine rollout continues and we get covid-19 under control, we have an unique opportunity as we re-energize our businesses, social lives, work and education goals. We need to make sure no one is left behind as we head into this post pandemic rebuilding. Local governments, businesses, education centers have all shown creativity and resilience. We have discovered new ways to do things, we have learned how tough we are as a community, and we have leaned into partnerships. Let's keep it going.
Good Government Council (GGC) City Council Questionnaire
GGC District 2 Responses
GGC District 3 Responses
GGC District 4 Responses
GGC District 5 Responses
Posted by Grace Hanson, Governmental Affairs Intern
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