Three candidates challenge incumbency as county board shrinksAs the Douglas County Board reduces its ranks, seven county board members are stepping down.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
As the Douglas County Board reduces its ranks, seven county board members are stepping down.
In mid-April, Supervisors Jeff Isaakson, Joel Certa-Werner, Lew Martin, Bean Prettie, Rich Thompson, Don Gerhardt and Tom Stewart are ending their respective runs on the board.
But even as they leave the seats they’ve held, four political hopefuls are stepping forward for a chance to serve on the Douglas County Board.
Robert Mock of Gun Club Lane in Hawthorne is running unopposed in the 19th District.
Three are challenging seated members of the board for an opportunity to serve the next two years.
Ed Gallagher is challenging Supervisor Nick Baker for the 5th District seat and Phil Baker is challenging Lawrence Quam for the 10th District in Superior. In the only race in rural Douglas County, Supervisor Pat Ryan is facing a challenge from political newcomer Jay Kinney for the 14th District, which includes the villages of Superior and Oliver, and part of the town of Superior.
Two retired teachers are facing one another with the goal of representing the 5th District on the Douglas County Board.
“I personally feel we fail to plan projects out before implementing the project, i.e. the county complex,” Gallagher said. “We should be proactive in our decision making process and handle our liabilities of the county more aggressively. Paying 7.2 percent to the state in interest expense on our retirement account and allowing them to increase verses decrease is just an example of this.”
Gallagher said taxes and jobs are other issues he plans to address as a member of the board.
“I believe my education in building and financial matters will be an asset for addressing these issues today and in the future,” Gallagher said.
“I will continue to support new development as I did in making the motion to approve the half a million dollar loan for Kestrel Aircraft Company from the Douglas County Revolving Loan Fund, which passed unanimously,” Baker said. “I hope that we may aid Magnetation and Exodus Machine Inc. with expansions and development.
We need to continue to support this new era of cooperation between the city and county due to the great efforts of Mayor Bruce Hagen and County Chairman Douglas Finn along with city and county employees.”
In addition to continuing work to bring more business development in the community, Baker said he plans to continue to serve on the Jail Task Force to address operational issues.
Another Baker is hoping to bring his business talents to work for the county board.
“I believe that one of my strongest assets is that I have owned and/or managed 10 different businesses (my management side), and yet I have also been a union steward (my labor side), said Phil Baker, a resident. “Having worn both labor and management hats, I know very well how the system works. I also live geographically just about in the center of the County District 10, so I could represent my district’s people just by virtue of daily travel in and out of the whole district.”
Baker said he is running for county board because he has worked with budgets. Not only would he not support tax increases, he said he would work to reduce taxes.
“Our most pressing county issue in my mind is that we will be even more challenged in the future to be having to learn how to live within our means,” Baker said.
Quam said his goal is keep growing the county’s economy, building on the existing tax base, and making sure there are good jobs available for people.
Cooperation among the state, county and city, the Development Association, the Chamber and Business Improvement District has made a significant impact on the region this year, Quam said.
“I am a taxpayer and I try to do legislation in that thought,” Quam said. “I feel that I am open to any suggestions and if they have any questions they can call my home phone number. I’d be willing to talk to them.”
Quam said people are losing their homes because of the lack of jobs.
“Hopefully, working together with the city, the City Council and all the others ones that we’re able to get more jobs … and more affordable housing.”
Quam said he plans to continue to foster cooperation that is working for economic development, and he’s grateful the state’s investment in the region, which helped bring Kestrel Aircraft to the city.
Kinney said he would use his leadership and communication skills to listen to people, their issues and ideas. His goal in running for the board is to bring a new board member with new ideas to the county board.
“This county has been pretty stagnant in job growth for many years,” Kinney said. “We have a county built for industry growth, with the shipping, railroad and trucking industry. We need to get companies to want to build here, if we can do that then the future for our children will be better. This is a new time were new ideas need to be heard, I am energetic and motivated.”
And that motivation comes from family.
“I have good leadership skills and want to grow this community so my children and grandchildren can find good paying jobs so they can stay and enjoy this area,” Kinney said.
Ryan has a reputation for being responsive to the needs of her constituents. From being there for the public when a train derailed in 1992, sending a cloud of gas over the Twin Ports to helping a couple who watched their retirement dream home sliding down the Oliver hillside during a subsequent stint on the county board to working with care providers gain adequate rates to keep their doors open.
Ryan has long organized RV and Ham Radio conventions in Douglas County, bringing visitors to the region.
“I have been working to bring another new business to Superior and have worked with a business that will be bringing a new radio station that will be operating in Douglas County,” Ryan said. The station planned for the village of Superior, will operate as WIVS (Wisconsin Village of Superior), she said.
She said her goal is to keep young people in the community, which is why her uppermost priority is bringing jobs to the area — jobs like the proposed jobs at Kestrel Aircraft and potential Magnetation jobs she supported as a member of the county board.