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Voters will decide council races

When voters in the city head to the polls next week, they won't just be deciding who the city's next mayor will be.

Voters in the 2nd, 6th and 8th districts decide who will represent them for the next two years on the Superior City Council.

In the 2nd District, two candidates stepped forward to fill the seat soon to be vacated by Councilor Tom Fennessey. Bryce Harp, 25, an agent for Aflac Insurance in Superior and Jennifer "Jenny" Van Sickle, 34, a transportation programs manager, are hoping for a chance to serve the community and district as a member of the City Council.

In the 6th and 8th districts, incumbents are facing a challenge from local businessmen.

Councilor Graham Garfield, 26, a local postal carrier, is facing a challenge from Tylor Elm, 31, who co-owns discoverpc.NET with his brother, Travus.

Councilor Mike Herrick, 58, works at Super One and is facing a challenge from Craig Sutherland, 32, owner of Great Lakes Bounce Houses and a laborer with Local 1091.

2nd District

The 2nd District includes Itasca, Allouez and a portion of the East End neighborhoods. Voters will cast their ballots for Harp or Van Sickle at Zion Lutheran Church on April 4.

Van Sickle, a married mother of two, is a 2016 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Superior with a degree in social work.

"I've dedicated my personal and professional life to making government transparent and accessible," Van Sickle said. "Every day I work with people to speak up for what matters to them and equally for elected officials to experience accountability to the people they represent."

Harp moved to Superior from Cromwell, Minn., about seven years ago and attended UWS.

"Coming from a small town — a town of 200 to a city of 27,000 is kind of a big jump for me — but I really do love this city," Harp said. "As a self-employed Aflac agent, I can set my own hours. That means if I have to schedule a forum for people to come meet with me and talk about ... a big issue in the district."

Each of the candidates have been involved in the Superior Days lobbying effort, but have somewhat different priorities.

Harp said his priorities are promoting small business, investing in infrastructure — roads, sidewalks and sewers — and ensuring police and fire have adequate resources to protect public safety.

"With that being said, those are my big three issues — elected officials are elected to represent ... should it be that I am elected and I have a bunch of people come to me and say 'hey, this is what we need to focus on,'" He said as an elected official, his personal priorities would be set aside to focus on his constituents, "because you're there to represent the people who elected you."

Van Sickle said her priorities will be to continue investing in Superior for a strong economic base, improving housing and working to create a more inclusive community.

"We need to do a better job hearing from our most vulnerable citizens: children of color/Indigenous families, and people of varying abilities, among others, need to be at decision-making tables, their voices/perspective are valuable and important in policy-making at every level and we cannot build a city for everyone without everyone at the table," Van Sickle said.

6th District

The 6th District includes neighborhoods adjacent to the downtown and Belknap business districts. Voters cast their ballots April 4 at the Salvation Army.

Garfield, who is engaged to be married in the fall, is a 2014 graduate of UWS who is working on a master's degree online in sustainable management.

"My experience as a laborer and my childhood growing up in a working-class family means I fully understand the needs of all individuals and families living in my district," Garfield said. "I am proud to be a full-time hourly wage earner and to work for a living."

Elm was home-schooled, learns hands-on and is co-owner of a local business, founded in 2004. He knows the sacrifice it takes to make a business great.

"Being business oriented, I'm excited to see this area revitalized," Elm said. "We've seen new businesses pop-up since the Tower Avenue project and I'm excited to see that continue on Belknap, once completed."

Elm said his top priorities are development and growth, housing and public safety.

"From an industry standpoint Superior is strong in this area, but I still believe we can use more," Elm said. "They bring good paying jobs to the area to support living wages. We need to take advantage of the natural resources we have. We live in a cooler climate and I would like to see development of data centers in the area. Servers generate a lot of heat and having naturally cool climate to keep these data centers running would be a shoo-in for the city."

Garfield said safe and affordable housing is his top priority, but attracting living wage jobs and managing city finances are also priorities.

"I continue to put access to safe and affordable housing as our top priority," Garfield said. "New residential developments and remodeling of existing structures will be crucial to providing residents the quality residence options they deserve."

8th District

The 8th District includes portions of eastern Billings Park, and the Banks, Oakes and Butler neighborhoods that cast their ballots at the Billings Park Civic Center.

Herrick, a married father of four and grandfather of five, has served the district for eight years as its city councilor.

"My assets include integrity, trust, leadership, being a lifelong resident, and the experience that I have acquired while serving eight years on the City Council and serving on various committees," Herrick said.

Sutherland, a father of one and small business owner, has gained his experience by being out in the district helping. After a seven-year absence, he said he was drawn back to the city where he grew up.

"I think we need a fresh perspective," Sutherland said. "I love this city; I am proud of it ... I want to try to make it better for my daughter, our next generation, our future. I don't want to leave them with some big problems. We've got to start fixing some things now. And in recent elections, our city has proven they want something different."

Sutherland said the city's priorities should be responsible and more transparent spending, promoting tourism, and attracting small business to the community, which will enhance tourism.

"I hate to say it but when you look across the bridge to Duluth, and I hate saying it, every year they release a statement that millions of people came and did that," Sutherland said. "What can we do here to bring tourism here?"

Growth, affordable housing and safe neighborhoods are Herrick's priorities.

"I believe the city's top three priorities are economic growth, which would create jobs, hopefully with good living wages, affordable housing and safer neighborhoods with focusing on the current drug problems," Herrick said. "To help to achieve these priorities, I would like to continue to serve on those committees that work on this issues.