Spring 2020 Candidate Questionnaire: Eau Claire County Board
District 4: Stella Pagonis
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 have been on county board for about ten or twelve years. I am a JD and practice in Eau Claire and surrounding counties. My area of practice is the children's code. I am self employed.
Q2. What is the County Board’s role in promoting economic development, business maintenance and commercial growth in the county?
For close to 20 years, ECC had an economic development fund balance that was allocated every year to EDC, Momentum West, and the incubation program. The fund balance is depleted, so the grants have ended. However, ECC attempts to promote the county as a positive place to reside and to work. Over the past years, several businesses have started up or opened divisions, and the Chippewa valley is promoted as a good place to live and raise children. The current push is to keep UWEC grads to supplement the workforce.
Q3. What should the County Board do to address the current budget issues and program demands in the Human Services area?
Just about everything the county does is mandated. Law enforcement and jail, highway, Vet services, Aging and Disability, courts, child support, and so on. So using the "excuse" that Human Services is a mandated program is not good enough. There is a new layer of management, there are contracts of questionable effectiveness, and ECC human services is more than 120 days longer than the state average from removal of a child to termination of parental rights. Eau Claire is notorious for being quick to remove children from parents and slow to return. Human Services needs to examine the current programs for effectiveness (we have not gotten any of the data requested regarding this) and to become more realistic in its approach
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 most obvious is not enough money to cover all the needs. Increased number of inmates in the jail, additional elderly needing delivered meals, mental illness exacerbated by homelessness, increased Veterans mental health needs, as well as the explosion of drug use, all put additional pressure on the county. Of course, smart management of resources and most importantly collaborations with other entities, such as the schools, cities, medical centers, and other private entities to increase effectiveness to jointly deliver services needed in the community.
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.