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.
District 5 Candidates
Andrew Werthmann is the incumbent council member for District 5 and is running against challenger Gabriel Schlieve.
Only Andrew Werthmann responded to the questionnaire.
Q1. What are your background and qualifications for this position, and what value will you bring to the City Council personally?
Andrew Werthmann: I’m the longest-serving Council member, now serving in my 12th year. I represent the downtown district, but have also been Vice President of the Council and served as Acting President.
Professionally, I work as a federal policy consultant to The Pew Charitable Trusts. My work is around federal policy related to flooding - how can we ensure that we are investing in flood resilience that both saves taxpayer money and keeps communities safe. I travel the Midwest to meet with local leaders and visit Washington, DC quarterly.
I see my biggest qualifications to be my record and results. I was a big supporter of our Confluence Project, I helped create the Sustainability Commission focused on protecting our environment, and I have recently championed a number of issues related to affordable housing. I take the same approach as the Chamber when it comes to business - that is that business thrives when we invest in the kind of community that people want to visit and make their home.
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?
Andrew Werthmann: The Chamber has gotten this right - recognizing we won't have strong business until COVID-19 is under control. This has also been the message from our doctors, nurses, health professionals, and our Health Department. What we can do, and where we need to push the envelope, is support businesses who are being safe, requiring masks, distancing etc, but want to get creative to still bring in customers. Outdoors, using more ventilation, trying to keep people spaced out. I think about the Eau Claire Marathon - they still want to run it and they have a plan in place on how to do it safely. Eau Claire business has this ingenuity and until COVID is under control, and fingers crossed that is nearby, our city needs to be supportive of businesses as they approach things in a unique and creative way.
Q3. What is the role of the City Council in addressing the housing shortage in Eau Claire?
Andrew Werthmann: Affordable Housing is one of the largest challenges our community faces. Right now, 46% of our friends and neighbors are just one accident or medical bill away from not making rent. We have 300 Eau Claire school children who are homeless. Public safety is one of the primary roles of our City, and we know no one can truly feel safe without a stable and affordable place to live.
I’m proud of the leadership our community is taking on this issue. We have an Affordable Housing Task Force, and that lead to the creation of our Housing Opportunities Commission. Chamber Vice President Scott Rogers is one of many community leaders who are taking action to make sure we lead on this issue. They are considering policy changes, competitive grant programs to leverage private investment, rehabbing older homes, and much more.
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?
Andrew Werthmann: I’m proud the City of Eau Claire is a member of the Chamber and to be your partner in advocating for our community. In particular, I want to thank the Chamber for all the hard work in putting on the Chippewa Valley Rally, bringing business leaders, elected officials, and community nonprofits together to directly lobby in Madison on issues vital to our region’s growth and prosperity. I also want to be sure to thank you for your leadership on COVID-19 safety.
Whether it’s the Confluence Project, the new science building at UWEC, legislation to allow growth through TIF projects, work to connect Eau Claire & the Twin Cities through high-speed rail, or the new Transit Building downtown - the Chamber has been our partner advocating in Madison and Washington when state and federal policies or inaction would stifle our economic and cultural success.
Just as it’s the Chamber’s role to advocate for member businesses, it must be the Council’s role to advocate for the needs of all our residents.
Q5. What will be your top three priorities in your term as a City Council Member?
Andrew Werthmann: We need to beat COVID-19: That’s why I have and will continue to support the recommendations of our doctors, nurses, Chamber of Commerce, and Health Department.
We need to build back better and support business. As we rebuild from COVID-19, our community will need to lean into supporting our small businesses. Making sure there are financial resources where needed, a safe and innovative return of our arts, music and special events, investing in our transportation and access, and making sure we have quality of life amenities that bring people to our community.
We need to be a more inclusive community: As a City Councilmember, I am committed to anti-racist policies, because Eau Claire must be equitable and just for our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. I'm proud that our Council stood with our Hmong community when they were targeted for deportations, that our Police Department is responsive to reforms and community relationships, and that we funded a new EDI position.
Good Government Council (GGC) City Council Questionnaire
GGC District 1 Responses
GGC District 2 Responses
GGC District 3 Responses
GGC District 4 Responses
Posted by Grace Hanson, Governmental Affairs Intern
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.