Spring 2020 Candidate Questionnaire: Eau Claire County Board
District 17: Martha Nieman and Cyndi Burton
Q1. What are your background and qualifications for this position, and why are you a candidate?
I am running for re-election because I care about Eau Claire. I believe that in order to address the challenges affecting our nation, one must work at the local level. The polarization that has occurred among our people has paralyzed us at a time when action is most needed. I am willing to listen to all perspectives, identify common ground, so we can work together to do what needs to be done for all beings to thrive. My first 2 years on the County Board, its Human Services Committee, the City-County Board of Health, and my background in the health care field make me especially aware, concerned and able to promote health for individuals and the whole community. I am dedicated to putting my effort to whatever I say I will do.
- 31 years (and counting) at UWEC
- Learning & Technology Services-Enterprise Software Systems
- UWEC student org advisor
- Served on UWEC Children's Center Advisory Committee
- Degrees in accounting and information technology
- Eau Claire homeowner
- I am a candidate because I see a great need for discipline with respect to spending and setting priorities. I think it is wrong to always be looking for new ways to take more money from our hard-working taxpayers and fixed-income residents. Revenue growth should come from the organic growth of the County.
Q2. What is the County Board’s role in promoting economic development, business maintenance and commercial growth in the county?
Business in Eau Claire County will not thrive without a stable, well-educated work force. Employers are having a hard time finding enough capable workers. Affordable housing, illegal drug use, and underfunded mandates imposed on us by state and federal government present obstacles to workforce development. I will continue to fight for adequate support of county administered services that enable our citizens to be productive workers. The COVID 19 pandemic is going to have devastating economic impact. I will join forces with out colleagues in other Wisconsin counties to put pressure on state and federal government to provide sufficient help to survive and recover. The Senate is dragging their feet and must be held to account.
The County Board should foster an environment for organic growth. Disciplined spending and prioritizing safety and road maintenance would be a good start. There is no need to meddle with private businesses or try to pick winners and losers.
Q3. What should the County Board do to address the current budget issues and program demands in the Human Services area?
Continued support of the work currently being done by the Human Services Department to proactively address substance abuse, mental illness, and poverty, which create the need to remove children and adults from their homes and community and place them in high-cost agencies for care, is necessary to maintain and increase the budget relief that is already in evidence. Allowing time is necessary for this important work to demonstrate its benefits. Failure to do this will only hamper the gains made and will end up costing more in the long run, as alternative care costs continue to rise and the consequences of these problems show up in the law enforcement and criminal justice departments. We need to continue to pressure the state and federal government to fully fund mandated services.
The County Board should address the root causes of the problems and deal with them head on.
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?
Poverty, its relationship to homelessness, substance abuse, disintegration of the family and the related opiod and methamphetamine epidemic have devastating consequences on children, adults, families, and city and county resources. Climate change will impact water safety, food production, the economy, and crisis management. I believe the well-being of the planet is intertwined with the maintenance of livelihood, the health of its people, and social justice. We are all connected and benefit to any of these areas will benefit the others. These are community, not just County Board, problems. The County needs to partner with its citizens and other community organizations to get at the root causes and effective solutions for these problems. This includes continuing to work for state and federal support for its mandated programs.
I believe Eau Claire County's biggest issues are learning to live within its means and doing the hard work of setting priorities that our residents and businesses have to do all the time. The first step is to acknowledge the problem.