Spring 2020 Candidate Questionnaire: Eau Claire County Board
District 6: Bert Moritz and Dane Zook
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?
My first qualification is my military service. While serving an overseas tour, I learned the value of teamwork, discipline and completing the mission. Serving with soldiers of different race, creed, ethnicity and economic background was an excellent primer for serving the public as a county supervisor. During my years of patient care at Mayo Clinic in Eau Claire I learned to be a good listener, assess the problem, take action and care about each individual patient. This has been my approach when citizens have contacted me for help. I also sat on the clinic management group for the regional health system. There, I helped facilitate wide scope changes that affected all aspects of the business. An example would be changing to a new electronic medical records system. Since the election I have worked in a leadership position as the Park and Forest Committee Vice Chair. Further, I have gained business and accounting familiarity while also serving as the County Commissioner for the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport.
I’m a local guy who has always lived in the area, the last forty plus years in Fall Creek. I started my work career with a business degree in accounting and later transferred to a sales position traveling the upper half of Wisconsin.
Living in Fall Creek, I have served on several committees over the years and was elected to serve on the village board for the last two terms. During that time I started our Economic Development committee, planned a quarterly newsletter, set up connections with realtors and developers. Helping with several local events and volunteer opportunities continued to build community connections which I was able to develop with info sharing with other villages. I was part of the development of a budget strategy with our finance committee that saved large amounts of interest cost and shorten our loan terms.
I also attended, on behalf of the village, many state and county meeting for housing, planning, ag resources and water shed items. I now chair the Inland Lake District Project for the Fall Creek pond.
I recently chose to not seek re-election to the village board but was asked to seek the county board position instead.
I would hope the county could promote itself through good communication and outreach while trying for more start-up companies, especially in environmental and technology areas to develop growth. Several things can be considered if we work with public/private partnerships, with cost sharing and good cost/benefit analysis of all issues. This is especially true in the medical field where every faction continues growing: the skills, services, technology advancements, needs and costs. Let’s create some very qualified panels of medical experts to help resolve this.
I want to help and learn. My education plus life experiences, guided by common sense, could assist the county in future success.
Q2. What is the County Board’s role in promoting economic development, business maintenance and commercial growth in the county?
The Eau Claire County Board has an important role in economic development, business maintenance and commercial growth. County government can contribute with both direct financial assistance and in a support role. An example of direct assistance would be the funds given to the Confluence Project. A good example off the support role our county plays is the ownership and its annual financial contribution to the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport. As the sole Eau Claire County Board representative serving on the Regional Airport Commission, I endeavor to help manage and expand the economic impact of this valuable service. An economic impact study reveals our airport provides 72 million dollars in economic output, supports 458 jobs and contributes 15.3 million dollars in wage income annually. Our county board needs to remain strongly engaged in economic development for the benefit of both our citizens and our expanding business community.
I believe the county board can help set the environment for growth, large industries are important but also work for start up companies that we have resources for and look for growth, some noted examples are , JAMF, RCU, and Menards.
Q3. What should the County Board do to address the current budget issues and program demands in the Human Services area?
The methamphetamine and the opioid crises are causing cost overruns in the Human Services Department. There is no value in blaming this department for the increased demand of its services. A multi pronged approach is needed if a solution is to be formulated. First, the county is already acting with programs through Human Services and the Sheriff’s department to reduce recidivism and to reduce the need for incarcerating some offenders. Next, in the short term, instituting cost saving measures including reduced replacement of non-essential personal throughout the county system, cost shifting during the budgeting process and exploring shared revenue sources must be done. In the long term, I believe it is time for the state government to act decisively with more funding to help with the drug crises.
Controlling cost comes from good input for decisions, like a good and accurate cost/benefit analysis. I like to refer to a story, if you write your opinion on a piece of paper and leave it in the rain it will be just as valuable tomorrow as it is today. Let’s get provable facts so we make good decisions.
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?
Methamphetamine and opioid use - solutions are complex. For example, combating poverty would help, some drug use is secondary to chronic pain and a lack of health care is a problem that could be addressed, creative programs to help felons to gain employment and acceptance back into society may help, we need to reduce recidivism and we may need to look beyond our nations approach to incarceration.
Seriously research environmental issues and medical situations, they are the large cost drivers off the foreseeable future.
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