Voters trim council racesWhen voters head to the polls next week, they’ll narrow the field in a variety of nonpartisan races from State Superintendent of Public Instruction and justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, to local races.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
When voters head to the polls next week, they’ll narrow the field in a variety of nonpartisan races from State Superintendent of Public Instruction and justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, to local races.
In Superior, voters in the 4th and 6th districts narrow the field from three to two heading into the April election.
Three candidates have stepped forward in each race for a chance to serve districts in which incumbents have decided against running for re-election.
Larry Johnson, Mark Johnson and Jack Sweeney of have all stepped forward to serve residents of the district and the city.
Larry Johnson said watching council meetings on television helped to pique his interest in what is happening in city government. He received encouragement to run for city council in conversations with a councilor, past councilor and county board supervisor.
He said he believes folks want city government to spend as efficiently as possible to hold down taxes, while providing for excellent police and fire protection, and top-notch public works, as well as other city services.
In addition to efficiency, he is a strong supporter of the economic development efforts of Mayor Bruce Hagen and Port and Planning Director Jason Serck.
“We’re in a great location because of many factors,” Larry Johnson said.
He said Superior has a convergence of energy with oil and natural gas pipelines; is a shipping center with railroad, trucking, Great Lakes waterway and worldwide shipping. Superior has a lot of ability to attract business that can really help our economy, he said.
“By expanding our economy, our goals can be to lower taxes, while at the same time, providing strong city services for all our citizens, so we can have the best community possible here.”
Larry Johnson said his goal is to represent the district on all issues facing the city by studying these issues and bringing well-informed common sense to the table. In fact, he set up an email address where residents of the district can contact him. Email email@example.com.
Mark Johnson got a taste of politics when he served as a driver in Vice President Joe Biden’s motorcade last November. His task was ushering the media from location to location during the vice president’s campaign stops at Superior Middle School and Red Mug Bakery and Coffeehouse. After that, he did some stumping for President Obama’s re-election bid.
“I was kind of inspired by the presidential election … seeing what goes on behind the scenes,” Mark Johnson said of his decision to seek office to serve the 4th District. That experience prompted him to realize the city needs young professionals to lead, and he wants to take on that role.
“I think I have a very good understanding of the city, and I know a lot of people,” the life-long resident said. He said his experience as an intervention coordinator at Superior High School has given him the mediation skills necessary to serve the people of the 4th District, and the city with nonpartisan political views.
“I think I can come up with something that would benefit everyone,” Mark Johnson said.
While the city council sometimes faces tough decisions, Mark Johnson said his experience as an intervention coordinator has taught him how to bring people together by listening to both sides of an issue and effectively solving problems.
And he has ideas of where to start when it comes to helping the East End district he’ll be serving. He sees great opportunity for the East End business district with Miner’s Inc. planning to build a new Super One store with higher visibility adjacent to the East Second Street corridor. He said there is great opportunity to improve the East End business district and develop a downtown-like hub in the neighborhood.
“As a lifelong resident, I am committed to be a voice for the community, listen to everyone and make decisions based on the facts,” Mark Johnson said. “I’m a young person committed to the community.”
Jack Sweeney comes to the race with a wealth of local government experience in addition to administration and accounting experience in the private and nonprofit sectors.
He served on the Douglas County of Board of Supervisors from 2005 to 2012, when redistricting pitted one incumbent against another. Despite losing his seat in a race separated by 10 votes, Sweeney continued to serve on the county’s jail task force and continues to represent Douglas County on the NorthernBridges board of directors.
“I would not have run against Jackie Stenberg,” Sweeney said of the councilor stepping down this year. However, with her decision to step down, he said he was encourage by a few to run for the seat.
“I have the time. I have the energy. I have a variety of experiences so I accepted the challenge and decided to run,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney said he’s a financial conservative who draws from a vast amount of experience, working in the for-profit and nonprofit world, in addition to his experience serving on various board.
“We have to solve problems,” Sweeney said. “I’m a problem solver. I’m not concerned with what happened in the past. I can’t change it.”
Sweeney said he met with Stenberg and Council President Mike Herrick to get a sense of the problems facing the city.
“They seemed to think things were going well,” Sweeney said. “… But if we have problems, we’ve got to solve them; I’m a problem solver.”
He also hopes to help make the East End business district more viable.
He said citywide, two priorities on his agenda are good-paying jobs and infrastructure improvements.
“When I sign on for something I go 100 percent,” Sweeney said. “I’m always prepared and always ready to ask questions and always ready to solve problems.”
In Superior’s 6th District, which includes downtown and the neighborhoods adjacent to the Belknap Street business corridor, voters have a choice among three newcomers.
Terry Massoglia, Kimberly Collins and Peter Moeri all stepped forward to make a bid for the council seat vacated by Councilor Len Joyal in December.
“I’ve got more time now that I’m retired,” Massoglia said. “I’ve lived in the 6th District for at least 35 years.”
In that time, he has seen a lot of change. He said it was a good neighborhood to raise a family, but today it’s a neighborhood getting older and more run down in some places.
With some of the oldest housing in the city in his district, he would like to see funding found to improve some of the homes, such as weatherization and rehabilitation programs with low interest loans.
Massoglia said his ability to reason will help him serve the community as a whole in addition to serving the district.
“I can just look at a problem and figure out how to solve it without being politically motivated,” Massoglia said. He said his goal is to improve the area.
Massoglia said he would join the council with the experience of having lived in the district 35 years and a host of life experience.
“The council seems to be well run … and I think I could fit right in,” Massoglia said.
Collins moved to Superior about four years ago after spending a lot of her life in Texas, and living in many communities around the United States and Canada.
Since moving to Superior, she said, she has wanted to get more involved. While she has never held a government position, she has served on committees in business and as a college professor, and has done a lot of administrative work.
“I believe more and more now that it’s important to make a difference locally,” Collins said. While she sought appointment to the district seat when Joyal left, she had already decided to run, irrespective of the outcome.
“I feel like I have a strong passion to do public service,” Collins said. “At this point in my life, now, I also have the ability to do it. I bring life experience to the position that I think will really help me understand the different circumstances constituents would face.”
Collins also sees an opportunity for Superior to use its assets to draw the kinds of businesses to make the city more vibrant and prosperous.
She said with the number of places she’s lived and the broad experience, she has the ability to understand the issues and what constituents want.
“I’m a big believer in representative government,” Collins said. She said she would listen to people in the district and work toward their goals.
“I have every intention of bringing common sense and honesty to the position so I can represent the people of the district very well,” Collins said.
Moeri said he decided to run for 6th District council seat because I wants to be more active in the community.
“I have a perspective that is most likely different from any current councilors,” Moeri. “I am 25, not from here, single and broke.”
However, he still has big aspirations for his new community.
“For my district and my city, I hope to help create a better sense of community within the residents.”