Marshfield mayoral candidates talk about their priorities and restore trust in the city’s government ahead of the February 15 primary election
MARSHFIELD — Three candidates will appear in the February 15 primary ballot in the race to become mayor of the city.
Ken Bargender, Bob McManus and Lois TeStrake will be vying for the seat of mayor of Marshfield. The first two voters will advance to the spring elections on April 5. For more information on registration and voting locations, visit the MyVote Wisconsin website.
The city announced that a mayors’ forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Second Street Community Center, 211 E. Second St. in Marshfield. According to a press release. The forum will also be rebroadcast on cable television and can be viewed on demand through the MFLD-TV media platforms.
The Marshfield News-Herald asked the candidates a series of questions about their priorities, how to restore trust in local government and how to continue to help the city through the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is what they said.
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Editor’s Note: Candidates’ responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Profession and training: A 1981 Marshfield High School graduate who works as an online retailer and owner
Relevant experience: He is a former member of city council and has served on several city boards, commissions and committees.
Profession and training: Works as commercial real estate agent and sales manager
Relevant experience: He served as mayor from 2018 until March 2021, when Marshfield City Council voted to remove him from office.
Profession and training: She is a small business owner. His salon, the Style Inn, has operated in Marshfield for over 30 years.
Why are you running for mayor?
Bartender: Because the citizens and taxpayers of the city need and deserve a 100% honest, 100% transparent and 100% trustworthy mayor, 100% of the time.
McManus: I really love the town of Marshfield and want to contribute and do my civic duty to help the town through its current predicament and help the town get back on its feet and become prosperous again.
Marshfield is an amazing town. We’re home to a world-class healthcare facility with the Marshfield Clinic Health System, and we have great employers across the city. We have amazing schools, public and private, and even a university and a technical school. We have a ton going on with the Zoo, new Aquatics Centre, a state of the art YMCA, an excellent park system and a new high school sports complex that will certainly bring more visitors to Marshfield.
Due to the great work that has been done downtown and the addition of Wenzel Family Plaza – with music, events, a water feature great for kids and ice skating available in the winter – we are never short of things to do. We have so many different resources just like big cities, and at the same time we are still a small town where people know each other and are safe. Marshfield has so much to offer.
TeStrake: I’ve been a lifelong resident of central Wisconsin. I have owned a business in Marshfield for over three decades. Those who know me know that I am a very generous person and that I continually strive to improve people’s lives.
Our community has gone through a difficult period over the past two years with different contentious situations. I want to lead our city, with your help, into a new era with a positive outlook for the future of our community.
Last year was a difficult year for the municipal government of Marshfield. How would you restore the trust that was lost with city staff and residents?
Bartender: As mayor, I intend to lead by example. I am only interested in serving citizens. I have no personal agenda or personal business interests that would conflict with being mayor of Marshfield.
McManus: Realistically, things peaked last year, but the issues have been going on for years.
We had to deal with a large tax deficit due to very bizarre accounting methods which caused a problem of approximately $1.9 million, and that had to be corrected. No one has been able to explain how this happened. However, what we do know is that after 10-12 years they died out. This led to a major tax increase and the citizens were not happy because they never got a credible answer as to how it happened or who was responsible – they just had to pay the bill.
The continued lack of oversight in one department has resulted in major issues that have resulted in a huge cost to taxpayers, and it looks like those costs will continue. And again, taxpayers have to foot the bill without explanation.
Restoring trust with city staff and the public will be a two-part process. We must have the courage to stand up, ask questions and demand answers, communicate more and listen to the public. I am up to this task.
TeStrake: By bringing trust and honesty to the office. I will be there to listen. We have excellent municipal staff and an excellent municipal council. We all deserve respect. With my integrity and character, I will do my best to keep us all together. I would love to see more residents get involved in local government like I am.
What issues do you think the city needs to focus on over the next two years?
Bartender: Restore trust in the mayor’s office, restore trust in the leadership of the police department, implement more ethics training and stricter enforcement of current codes of ethics for all city employees and elected officials , and encourage city staff and council to be more fiscally responsible to taxpayers.
McManus: Since making my decision to run, I’ve spoken with the audience to get a sense of what’s important to them. It is not good for anyone to have a pre-determined program when running for public office, but rather (he should) listen to the public about what is important to him.
Here’s what I’ve heard time and time again.
The public wants a local government that listens to them and values their input. Too many people I’ve spoken to feel like they’re not being heard – at all.
Roads and potholes. It’s something we always hear about, and it’s a public safety concern. When people hear about public safety, what usually comes to mind is fire and police services. We are fortunate here in Marshfield to have incredible police, fire, paramedics, support staff and management.
But another aspect of public safety is the roads. Dan Knoeck, the Town of Marshfield’s Director of Public Works, and Tom Turchi, the Town Engineer, have done an outstanding job of a large-scale road plan to take care of the roads. Their plan is very comprehensive. Our problem at Marshfield isn’t that we don’t know it or don’t have a plan for it. The problem is that we need more funding to finance these projects.
The balance between need and want on the streets of the city is amazing. For example, if you have $3 million in projects to complete, but only have $2 million in resources, you are going to have persistent road issues. We have to find a way to get the resources they need.
Taxes. Due to the very strange accounting methods that have been used for over a decade, the city has had to raise taxes sharply over the past two years. It would seem that things have stabilized a bit, but still need to be controlled.
TeStrake: Make residents understand that your elected bodies are there to work with and for them.
Seeing how our country is suffering from a high number of overdose deaths, I want to make sure that our law enforcement, our schools and our families have all the tools and support necessary to ensure that we, with God help us, let’s keep it from overrunning everyone. life.
I truly intend, with your help, to ensure that every tax dollar our city receives is used as efficiently as possible. Upward or downward tax revisions will be adjusted accordingly. I will not accept any tax increase or decrease without proper justification.
How would you help the city deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?
Bartender: I would ensure that our citizens and businesses have all the latest information so they can make informed decisions while dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
McManus: We are very fortunate here in Marshfield to have a world class health care facility with the Marshfield Clinic Health System and tremendous information support from the Wood County Health Department. Thus, the city receives excellent information regarding the state of COVID.
I believe that right now, because of what COVID has caused, our businesses have had a hard time. Between supply chain issues and employee issues, it’s been difficult for them.
A local business recently posted a message on Facebook saying they were ordering mugs and last year their price went up from $48.99 to $118.49 for the mugs. That’s a huge increase she has to absorb into her business, and it’s just one of the expenses she listed. She said the cost of these supplies has risen 260% in the last year alone. How is a company supposed to keep prices reasonable while it’s beset by these major increases?
Add to that a dramatic shortage of employees and it’s very stressful for business owners. I believe there are things we can do to help our businesses in the city.
TeStrake: Communicate all information that needs to be conveyed and facilitate appropriate programs at the city level. I’m sure you’ll all agree with me when I say we need to go back to the pre-pandemic times.
Contact USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin reporter Melissa Siegler at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @Marie2Melissa.
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This article originally appeared on Marshfield News-Herald: Marshfield mayoral candidates on the ballot for the February 15 primary election