Over the past two weeks, we’ve explored the Clintonville city administrator from the perspectives of local business and local government. These are two areas where Clintonville City Administrator Lisa Kuss has been effective during her tenure. However, Kuss has also proven herself truly valuable beyond the scope of her position through her dedication to the community as a whole.
Many of those most strongly opposed to the city administrator position have feelings rooted in personal bias. Three alderpersons-Gloria Dunlavy, Jeannie Schley, and John Wilson-signed the petition to remove the position, with two of them-Dunlavy and Schley-admitting at Wednesday’s meeting that they are more interested in getting rid of Kuss than eliminating her position.
Kuss’ assertive character was cited by many who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting. While her supporters praised her for this trait, the opposition views her assertiveness as abrasive. What the opposition doesn’t realize is that assertiveness is the very characteristic that makes Kuss so effective in her role as city administrator.
“The move isn’t personal? Who are we kidding? It’s very personal,” said former Alderman Gary Hagberg, regarding the petition to remove the city administrator position. “It’s personal because people are jealous. People think if someone gets paid more than them, then that person is undoubtedly overpaid. John Moericke (who circulated the petition) is a good man-I just wish he’d find a new hobby.”
Clintonville resident and former alderman Phil Rath pointed out that the negativity of a few often reaches past the administrator’s office and into their home and family.
“My dad was the city manager in Two Rivers while I was growing up,” said Rath. “The job is 24/7. We used to get phone calls at our house at all hours of the day and night. People always had something to complain about. Other kids would talk about my dad at school, saying that their parents felt he wasn’t doing a good job or thought he made too much money. It was difficult for my dad, but it was also difficult for the whole family at times. It’s not an easy job to have.”
While some choose to be negative towards Kuss, there are many who support her because they recognize her personal investments in the community.
“Lisa’s been fun, forthright, and forward,” said Mike Tadych of Tadych’s EconoFoods. “There are times she has let me know about minor situations involving our business that needed to be corrected. She didn’t have to do it, but she knew it was important for our business. She continually goes above and beyond to keep the community working well.”
Kuss has also helped many community events grow and flourish. One of them is the annual Pigeon River Classic 5k/10k, which benefits everyone from business owners to fitness enthusiasts to high school athletes.
“Lisa helped grow this event by 40 percent over three years,” said Jeff Crumbaugh, who organizes the race through his company, Great Lakes Endurance. “This event brings business to Clintonville and helps raise funds for middle school and high school runners.”
It’s important to remember that Kuss’ perspective as a citizen and parent are just as important as those of any other resident. She takes an active role in improving the community not just for business and government, but for the families, students and residents who live in Clintonville.
Kuss regularly shares her knowledge with local students, giving them insight on how local government works and what her duties are as city administrator. She also does her best to support local sports teams and can use her position to help bring the community together to rally around their accomplishments.
“The city administrator position does impact Clintonville students,” said Elisha Wagenson, a third grade teacher at Rexford-Longfellow Elementary. “She partners with educators and helps teach students what taxes pay for. She believes in young people and has helped with many successful projects that have allowed our youth to grow and become strong citizens. She always volunteers to help with the Junior Achievement program and is a great help with service learning projects.”
Many residents recognize and applaud Kuss’ efforts on the CARE committee, which worked to make the new high school a reality.
“Lisa has done and incredible job for the community, especially giving so much of her own time to the CARE committee,” said resident Carol Metzger. “She worked very hard on that committee to help get us a new high school.”
“I coach the Diamond Cats (American Legion Post 63 baseball team),” said resident Bill VanDaalwyk. “Lisa has worked hard to support our team in fundraising efforts for our trips to the state and national tournament. I thank local businesses for their support, and I know Lisa has a big impact on that.”
At the end of the day, Kuss is a friend and neighbor to many in Clintonville.
“My family and I have lived in Clintonville for 12 years. We love this community. My husband and I are proud to be raising four kids here,” said resident Joanne Doornink. “We have many personal, close friends here-they’re like family to us. I served for five years as director of the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce, and I know that Lisa does a great job. There are so many things we love about this community, but it would be nothing that it is today without a city administrator.”
Whether you look at it from a business, government, or personal standpoint, Kuss is very much a part of the fabric of life in Clintonville. She works hard on every front to make Clintonville the best it can be.
“It’s an exciting time to be in Clintonville,” said resident Amy Goerlinger. “There is a lot to celebrate. We need to work together to continue to grow.”