Spring 2020 Candidate Questionnaire: Eau Claire County Board
District 27: Zoe Roberts and Randy Demars
Note: These questions were drafted and candidate responses requested before concerns about COVID-19 escalated to their current level.
Q1. What are your background and qualifications for this position, and why are you a candidate?
I am the current County Board Supervisor for District 27. I have created and passed ordinance updates. Started a new event in the Chippewa Valley and plan to continue working to make Eau Claire a special place to live!
Lifelong EC resident. Graduate of EC North (77) & UWEC. Past member of EC city council & plan commission 1993-95. Retired businessman (paper mill & Nestle) with over 35 years manufacturing experience managing budgets & resources. Self funded, common sense campaign with no hidden agenda. I’m running to serve the community that I’ve lived in my entire life and to keep taxes as low as possible while providing cost effective services. My district has not had responsible effective representation for the past four years and I can provide that.
Q2. What is the County Board’s role in promoting economic development, business maintenance and commercial growth in the county?
Directly we can affect changes in zoning and implement a pro economic growth atmosphere. Indirectly, we can use our voice to help create plans, such as an EDI plan with an MEI component, that can be implemented that would help make Eau Claire County more attractive to businesses for satellite offices or re-location/expansion.
The county board should be working with the city council, the chamber, and other stakeholders to create another industrial park. Gateway and Sky Park are essentially full. We do not have the opportunity to offer businesses land to develop and create jobs. Tax incremental finance districts can also be used to create economic development. We must have a competitive tax rate to attract business to our county. As a retired businessman and past city councilman, I am uniquely qualified to provide leadership in these areas.
Q3. What should the County Board do to address the current budget issues and program demands in the Human Services area?
Tough decisions will need to be made. There is currently a resolution that would provide spending oversight to the board over the department. But that's really just a start. We also have to curb any extra spending until we get our budget under control
I am deeply concerned about the human services budget overruns. Necessary services must be provided as cost effectively as possible. Human service staffing should be frozen and/or reduced through attrition until the Human services budget is under control and within the budget set by the board. Frequent updates should be provided to the board on budget overruns with explanations and corrective action recommendations. Ultimately the county must provide needed services at the cheapest cost, but increased scrutiny of human service budgetary expenditures is imperative.
Q4. What are the two biggest issues you expect Eau Claire County to face during your term, and how do you think the County Board should address them?
The two biggest issues I think Eau Claire County faces are high poverty and stagnant wages. I believe the two pieces are inter-related. We have to work to grow good paying jobs in Eau Claire. Eau Claire household median income is well below the national average. This gap should be targeted. Encouraging employers with well paying jobs to locate in Eau Claire is important as is opening the doors of opportunity for the poor through education, whether it be apprenticeships or job training programs, and transportation. If we combine these two concepts, I believe we could have a very powerful combination for the future, especially when combined with the aforementioned EDI program.
Human service spending needs to be reduced and controlled to the limits set by the board. Some of my thoughts on this were explained in the previous question. A huge issue in our county is the continued fraudulent activities in the Treasurers office. I am concerned that the existing controls, policies and procedures are not sufficient to prevent embezzlement of taxpayer money. I am tired of reading about money being embezzled through the Treasurers office. This must stop!
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.