Four after available seats on village board
Voters in the Village of Ellsworth will get a ballot showing four candidates -- one for village president and the others for three available trustee seats -- when going to the polls for next Tuesday's election.
The candidates are Gerald DeWolfe for village president, and Neil Gulbranson, Kenny Manfred and Curt Wandmacher for village trustees. They are all incumbents.
They were sent questionnaires by the Herald. Following are the questions and the candidates' written responses.
Please give a brief description of yourself. Include information such as age, family, where you live and for how long, and list any educational, life or public service experiences which you believe will assist you in the position you're seeking.
DEWOLFE: Jerry DeWolfe. I have been living in the Village of Ellsworth for 44 years. Retired from Pierce Pepin Cooperative Service after working 41 years for the cooperative. Also was a member of the 652nd Army Reserves in Ellsworth from 1966 to 1988. Current member of the Ellsworth Fire Department, serving as Second Assistant Chief.
GULBRANSON: Neil Gulbranson, age 55, 600 Crest Lane, Ellsworth. I have lived in Ellsworth my entire life. My wife, Sue, works as a home mortgage officer for Bank Mutual in Ellsworth. We have three grown daughters and one granddaughter. I have worked for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department for 36 years, 26 years as the Chief Deputy. I have a degree in Police Science and have also attended numerous management courses and related updates in police management. I feel my experience with planning and preparing budgets, working and negotiating with unions, purchasing equipment and serving the public in my full time position helps me serve in public office. I am a member of English Lutheran Church, Ellsworth Rod and Gun Club, Hancock Lodge and various law enforcement organizations.
MANFRED: I am married to my wife, Carolyn. My family consists of one daughter, Missy, son-in-law Aaron, granddaughter, Emily Harris of rural Ellsworth, and one son, Steve Manfred of River Falls. I'm a life long resident of the Ellsworth area. I have lived at 113 Halls Hill St. for 38 years. I served on the village board for 20 years and am a retired firefighter (24 years). I am a member of English Lutheran Church (former council member) and a member of Post 204 American Legion.
WANDMACHER: My name is Curt Wandmacher. I am 57-years-old. I grew up in Hager City. I graduated from Ellsworth High School. I received a BS degree in Administration from UW-La Crosse. I have been employed by Smead Manufacturing in Hastings, Minn., for 35 years. While there, I have worked in Inventory Control, Cost Accounting, Production Control, as a Product Engineer and am currently a Specials Analysts. I have lived in Ellsworth for 33 years with my wife Vickie (Bjork). We have been married for 37 years. We have two sons. Ben, his wife Aira, son Audie and daughter Greta live in St. Michael, Minn. Our other son, Chris, lives in Ellsworth. I was a member of the Ellsworth Funsters for 17 years. I assisted with Hunters' Education for seven years. I was a Cub Scout Den Leader for five years and the Pack Leader for four years, and an assistant Boy Scout Leader for three years. I coached T-Ball, youth basketball and wrestling. I am a member of the Ellsworth Rod and Gun and a member of St. Francis Catholic Church.
If you are a challenger, explain how and why you chose to seek the position and what areas particularly interest you; if you are an incumbent, discuss the committees on which you have served, review any accomplishments to which you feel you have made a particular contribution and share your intentions for involvement during a new term.
DEWOLFE: As incumbent, I oversee and appoint village board members to the committees. Board members do an excellent job of serving the community. Committee members do not get enough credit for the service they do on behalf of the village.
GULBRANSON: I am presently finishing my fourth term as village trustee. I am chair of the Street and Sidewalk committee, chair of the Salary and Labor committee and the village representative on the Ellsworth Fire Department Association Board.
MANFRED: Through my experience, I've served on all the village committees, most notable, the Plan Commission for 22 years. The ETZ
Committee was formed with the surrounding townships to plan future growth of the village in a systematic manner. Presently, the Plan
Commission is involved in a comprehensive plan mandated by the State of Wisconsin to be completed by year end. It is a visionary plan and identifies where and how citizens would like to see the physical development of the community take place.
WANDMACHER: I presently serve as the chairperson for the Finance, Purchasing and Building Committee, and the Housing Authority. I am a member of the Health, License and Welfare Committee, Solid Waste, Cable TV, Public Safety and Special Committee, and the Cemetery Committee. I am the village representative on the Library Board and the Planning Commission. During these tough economic times, it is a challenge for the Finance Committee to see that spending of tax dollars is on useful village services.
What is your position on allowing a business in the village to host an event like Ultimate Fighting?
DEWOLFE: The village has ordinances that address events that are held on public property.
GULBRANSON: I voted in favor of the ordinance banning Ultimate Fighting on any village owned property or street. At the time this ordinance came before the board, we chose not to prohibit private business from holding events if they have the room and cause no problems. If Ultimate Fight events are held in the future on private property which creates problems or generates complaints, I would support a future ordinance for a complete ban.
MANFRED: I feel if a business in the village wants to host an Ultimate Fighting event, that is its prerogative so long as it stays on private property (not on public streets or sidewalks).
WANDMACHER: If a village business wants to host an event like Ultimate Fighting, they should be allowed to do so as long as the village has no liability. This means the event needs to be held on private property with no additional requirements or cost to the village.
What type of development should be promoted for the midway district site in the village being vacated by the Army Reserve Center?
DEWOLFE: I feel the village board will work with the Legion in the sale and development of midway property. The development should be something that will benefit the community with business and jobs.
GULBRANSON: This property is owned by the Kinne Engelhart American Legion in Ellsworth and not the Village of Ellsworth. Even with the present economic situation, the property still could sell with aggressive pricing and marketing. The Legion has the property listed with a broker and village personnel have already promoted this site along with other available sites in Ellsworth to potential developers and will continue to do so. This is an excellent site with high traffic volume and great visibility for any number of businesses. Two members of the village board are members of the Legion and hopefully both groups can all work together to come up with a potential buyer.
MANFRED: With the vacating of the Army Reserve Center, the local Legion post has the property listed for sale. The village may be of some assistance in the future development of this property by creating a T.I.D. District (blighted area, etc.).
WANDMACHER: The Army Reserve Center site is owned by the American Legion. Any final sale of the property is up to them. The site is zoned for commercial development. It would be nice to see a business in there that would provide good paying jobs.
What amount of authority should the village board have over the local cable TV system and how should it be exercised?
DEWOLFE: The village board does not have authority over the cable TV system. The board can recommend changes and improvements to programming.
GULBRANSON: The village has very little authority over the cable TV system except to approve the franchise when it originally came to town. We have absolutely no say on price or channel selection. I personally discovered when they removed WEAU-TV 13 from the system the village had no say in the matter. The Ellsworth market is too small for another cable company to come into town. The only avenue a subscriber has is to complain to the company or cancel the service. If many people did cancel, we could lose the system completely and that would be bad for Ellsworth. I hope in the future U.S. Cable is more responsive to the subscribers and listens to their concerns instead of just raising fees every year.
MANFRED: The village presently has a contract with the current cable TV carrier. The village has no authority as to programming or channel selection provided to the cable company.
WANDMACHER: The local cable TV system is a privately owned business; therefore, the village board should have very little control. The subscribers have the power to direct how the cable system is run. They need to contact the cable company and let them know what they like and what they do not like.
Identify and elaborate on any other issues facing the board which you feel to be important.
DEWOLFE: The issues facing the board are to provide services to the community at a high level and to keep tax as low as possible.
GULBRANSON: The economic downturn has and is affecting everybody. I think the village board and its employees try very hard at efficiently spending village tax dollars. Examples are financially fair union contract settlements, village receiving grant awards, employees accepting Health Savings Account insurance and a very small tax increase last year with no increase the previous two years because of cuts the board made at budget time, but still maintaining services. I will work hard to continue to make Ellsworth a place we are all proud to call home. Thank you.
MANFRED: I feel the main issue the village deals with is the decrease in state revenue sharing. In recent years, we have seen this decline, which means the services the village provides must be paid for by increases in the local levy. I feel this is not a good situation, but we need to deal with it as best we can.
WANDMACHER: How the tax dollars are being spent is a major issue for the local board. The state revenue sharing is being cut back. Other revenues coming into the village treasury are coming at a slow rate. It is important that the village board spends that money wisely. The board needs to see that the services that the village has to provide are being met.