District 3 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.
Jeremy Gragert is the incumbent council member for District 3 and is running against Josh Stanley. Both candidates completed the questionnaire.
Q1. What are your background and qualifications for this position, and what value will you bring to the City Council personally?
Jeremy Gragert: I have served on the city council since 2018, and have shown my dedication to my district by never missing a meeting or a vote. Since joining the council, I have served on the Plan Commission and the Transit Commission. During my 15 years living in the City of Eau Claire prior to being elected, I was a UW-Eau Claire graduate and Blugold athlete, served as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in the UWEC Center for Service-Learning, created the Chippewa Valley Bike Map, and helped create the city’s Sustainability Advisory Committee. My past board experience includes Downtown Eau Claire Inc. and Chippewa Valley Montessori Charter School. In my day job I am a clean energy policy consultant on both the state and national level, and previously worked for UW-La Crosse, UW-Stout, Wisconsin Bike Fed, and the Chippewa Valley Museum. I bring a variety of community development experience, focused on enhancing quality of life in Eau Claire, which increases opportunities for families and businesses alike.
Josh Stanley: For the past 10 years I was a firefighter who was dedicated to serving my community. I was able to work with some amazing mentors. My Fire Chief, City Manager, and members City Council allowed us to be involved in the budgeting process. I learned how things work behind the scenes and I was able to view things from a citizen's stand point. My mentors taught me always to put the citizens first. We also treated our citizens with respect because they were the ones we served. Prior to my fire service career I have owned businesses and have been involved in other businesses on different levels which taught me about working with people and problem solving. For the past 2 1/2 years I was president of my homeowners association where I was leader of the organization and responsible for the day to day operations which included meeting with different vendors to make sure we maintained our community at the highest level.
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?
Jeremy Gragert: I commend the work of our Eau Claire City-County Health Dept and city staff for their leadership and care for our community, and thank the health professionals and frontline workers who have been instrumental in responding to the pandemic. We have lost over 100 lives in the county, and the pain is not over, but thankfully we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I supported keeping our city buses running (and fare free during most of the pandemic), because it is an essential service for workers and businesses alike. Just like our business community, the city has needed to be flexible and creative, by doing things like drive-thru voting or remote access to city services. The Chamber has been a partner through the Chippewa Valley COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, and the Communicable Disease Task Force, where open dialogue and communication has helped us come together. The Chamber’s support for masks has helped keep businesses not only open, but safe for workers and customers.
Josh Stanley: I trust and support the people of Eau Claire to do what's best for their businesses when it comes to COVID-19 and economic growth. It is up to the local government to establish an environment that allows the businesses to survive and thrive while protecting public health. Again I'd like to state I trust and support our great citizens making their own decisions when it comes to this, we at the local government level should give them the tools they need to make their own decisions.
Q3. What is the role of the City Council in addressing the housing shortage in Eau Claire?
Jeremy Gragert: My personal housing experience helps me see the issue from different angles. I have been a renter in four different neighborhoods of the city and three different cities in Wisconsin over 20 years, and now I am a homeowner. We need to provide as many opportunities as possible for the community to come together and find solutions to our housing crisis. That is why I participate in the JONAH Affordable Housing Task Force, the Chippewa Valley Housing Task Force, and voted to create the city’s Housing Opportunities Commission. The Chamber has been involved every step of the way. As a member of the Plan Commission, I know we need a Comprehensive Plan and zoning laws that both allow for growth of new housing and for revitalization of existing housing within the changing needs of our community. Within my first term I supported the creation of the Affordable Housing Fund in our capital budget, the Landlord Support Program, and the hiring of an additional planner to focus on housing issues.
Josh Stanley: The city council has to allow for the development of new housing to meet the demand. Policies and ordinances will need to be reviewed and revised to make this possible.
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?
Jeremy Gragert: The council should to be responsive to the needs of the community, whether that be stepping in to fight a global pandemic on the local level, or lobbying our legislators for state funds to build a performing arts center or a Science & Health Sciences Building at UWEC. Small communities like Eau Claire could be left behind if we don’t stand up for our citizens on important issues like transportation. We rely on state and federal funds to keep our roads and bridges in good repair, run our city buses, and seek out opportunities like passenger rail service. We do have the power to determine our own destiny, and it means standing up for ourselves on issues like local control and building partnerships with the state and federal government to secure grants. That is why I have joined the Chamber in Madison for the Chippewa Valley Rally, have spoken in front of the Joint Finance Committee, and meet with state and federal legislators. It is both responsible citizenship and basic stewardship.
Josh Stanley: We work for the citizens of Eau Claire so our only priority is to deal with issues which affect our citizens first and foremost. The purpose of local government is to govern at the level closes to the people, and take care of matters within the city. The city council should only be discussing things within their governing authority.
Q5. What will be your top three priorities in your term as a City Council Member?
Jeremy Gragert: My top three priorities are 1) making sure more people have a voice, 2) improving mass transit, and 3) making progress on our 100% renewable energy goal.
1) I helped create a public comment period so that citizens can address the city council and each of our boards, committees and commissions on any issue they please. This makes the city more accountable to the issues our community faces. Some of our next steps are to kick off our Participatory Budgeting program and hire an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Coordinator.
2) Eau Claire Transit hasn’t expanded bus service in over 20 years. My top priorities for improvement are adding Sunday bus service and expanding to neighboring communities.
3) While our city has partnered with Xcel Energy on a path toward 100% renewable electricity, the buildings and transportation sectors are a bigger challenge. We need to lead by example through a green library expansion, and by electrifying the city bus fleet.
Josh Stanley: My first priority is fiscal responsibility. We should be good stewards of the citizens tax dollars. My second priority is the business community. We must do everything we can to help and attract businesses to our city. This includes not infringing on their ability to operate at a level that makes them successful for the owners and employees. If a city does not allow the the tax base to grow and thrive the city will have failed in its mission to assure a sustainable community. My third priority is to review and revise policies and ordinances that affect our citizens and businesses. We should be listening to the citizen's voices and make Eau Claire a thriving community.
Good Government Council (GGC) City Council Questionnaire
GGC District 1 Responses
GGC District 2 Responses
GGC District 4 Responses
GGC District 5 Responses
Posted by Grace Hanson, Governmental Affairs Intern
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.