Incumbent John Lockwood faces Lori Chesnut in the April 2 election for the District 4 seat on the Waupaca Common Council.
Born in Waupaca, Lockwood was raised here and is a graduate of Waupaca High School and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
He returned to the area in 2000 and moved into the city in 2003.
Lockwood is a relationship manager/business banking officer at First State Bank in Waupaca.
He was appointed to the Common Council on Oct. 21, 2008 to fill a vacant District 4 seat and was elected to his first, two-year term in April 2009.
Lockwood was re-elected in April 2011 and is seeking his third full term on the council.
In addition to being an alderman, he is a member of the Waupaca Jaycees, Waupaca Rotary Club, the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce’s LEADs group and is a member of the advisory leadership group for the Waupaca County Rural Health Initiative.
As a member of the council, Lockwood also sits on the WAYHA Board.
“When people approach me about joining a group, I want to be involved,” he said.
Lockwood said his civic duties and professional life keep him connected to the community.
He sees the needs of the community and what direction it is headed, which then overlaps with his work on the Common Council.
“My door is always open here,” Lockwood said from his office at First State Bank. “People will come in who are not from my ward. It’s people that know me, and they say, ‘Hey, can I come in and talk to you about something?'”
Other city residents email him or call him.
Lockwood said his work in banking gives him a better understanding of the city’s finances, especially when the council is dealing with the city’s budget.
“I’ve always made it a point that if I don’t know something I go out and search,” he said.
In regard to his civic experience, Lockwood said many members of the Waupaca Jaycees are city residents.
When the fluoridation of the city’s water was a topic, he talked to a member who is a dentist.
“At almost every Jaycees’ meeting, people will ask, ‘What’s going on, on the city council?'” Lockwood said.
In regard to the recent discussion about the fluoridation of city water, which was brought up by a city resident, Lockwood said it is the council’s duty to seek solutions when citizens approach a member of the council.
Whether it is a question about a resident not shoveling snow or one about water fluoridation, he said it must go through the proper channels.
Lockwood said that was the case with the fluoridation issue.
“I think the outcome was appropriate. We heard the evidence. Everyone got to voice their opinion. I thought it was resolved in a timely manner,” he said. “At every committee meeting and every council meeting, there is the opportunity for people to talk about a topic. It may not get discussed or resolved that night, but we can take the steps.”
Lockwood said people may also call and email members of the council.
“To my constituents, I’m open any time they have a topic they want to discuss. All of us, being a public servant, have accepted that duty,” he said.
Lockwood further said that as a homeowner himself, he is paying taxes just like his constituents are and watches how those tax dollars are being spent.
While the council voted to continue the fluoridation of the city’s water, Lockwood said it is appropriate and the responsibility of the council to educate the public about the topic.
“Personally, I’d like to have some type of warming regarding infants and formula. There will be discussion at the Board of Public Works,” he said.
When asked what he believes should be the city’s budget priorities moving forward as city debt is paid down, Lockwood said, “I think, with the budget restraints we’ve seen in the past, the city had to borrow for capital or put it off.”
He said there should be budgeted funds on an annual basis for capital items.
Larger projects, such as a street reconstruction, are good candidates for borrowing, he said.
“With debt falling off, we should put capital into the budget,” Lockwood said. “Through the recession, we have not raised taxes.”
He said city services were maintained.
“The city has a plan, and we need to make sure we stick to it to see that our city grows into the future. I would look long and hard before I would approve a decision to increase taxes,” he said.
A public works facility and the reconstruction of North Main Street have been discussed as future projects in the city.
Lockwood said downtown business owners need to be vocal and honest about how a Main Street project would affect them.
Suggestions would be needed as to how they could continue to get their customers through the doors, he said.
“There will be a lot of discussion,” he said.
This campaign season, Lockwood has signs up in his district and is planning a mailing to his constituents.
“If anyone has questions, contact me at home at 715-258-6589 or by email at email@example.com,” he said.
Chesnut is a native of Rhinelander and graduate of Rhinelander High School.
She moved to Waupaca in 1973 and works in the Waupaca County Department of Health and Human Services’ Youth and Family Unit as a parent aide and juvenile tracker.
Chesnut previously served on the Common Council.
She was appointed to a District 4 seat on Jan. 21, 1997, following the resignation of a council member.
Chesnut represented the district through March 1999, when she resigned from the council after moving outside of the city.
She moved back into District 4 last September.
In addition to her previous tenure on the council, Chesnut’s prior civic service includes the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors.
She chaired many Chamber festivals and was one of the co-founders of Strawberry Fest.
In the past, she helped with Meals on Wheels.
Chesnut has also been an active member of Crystal Lake United Methodist Church, where she served on the church council and helped with youth activities when her children were young.
“I wanted my children to know it’s important to be a part of your community,” Chesnut said.
She is also a graduate of Leadership Waupaca County, a program that gave her much insight, she said.
When asked how her professional and civic experience would help her do a better job as a member of the Common Council, Chesnut said, “I am in every community every day with numerous types of people. I have learned as much from them as I hope they have learned from me. We often just see one portion of our society. I see another part. Working with people you realize your point of view is not the only one and that every family is unique.”
She said, “A lot of it goes back to faith. I’m not there to judge but to help. It has opened my eyes to all these different views, to listen. If elected, I will serve the constituents, not me. You have to represent their view.”
Chesnut said her civic involvement means she has worked with diverse groups.
It resulted in her own growth.
“Sense of community is huge. Sense of being is huge. It’s putting that together to represent the people,” she said.
When Chesnut was asked if she believes the council responded to the fluoride issue in the correct manner, she said, “I think it went through the proper channels. I think, at times, the atmosphere could be more accommodating to John Q. Public. I hate to hear, ‘You have this much time to do this.’ It is the City Council representing the people. The council can call the question.”
Chesnut believes the issue went through the correct steps but said, “I really think we need to be a friendlier government.”
When further asked if she believes the issue has been resolved, she said, “I think we need a lot more education to the moms that are pregnant. Now that it’s open, I don’t think it will ever be done. There is definitely a certain population who have very young children who are very much in need of this (fluoride).”
In regard to what she believes the city’s budget priorities should be as city debt is paid down, Chesnut said, “The focus is not the need to feel to spend it right this minute.”
She said having reserve funds would be a good thing, and getting out of the mode of thinking everything “needs to be this instant” would also be a good idea.
Chesnut said, “Set everything on the table and prioritize.”
She remembers being taught that the main priorities of the city are safety and protection.
“We need to have a good, clear vision,” Chesnut said.
The city should show it knows how to keep taxes stable and move forward cautiously, she said.
“As any household, if you want to purchase something, you need to study it and do your research,” Chesnut said.
Chesnut said she has worried about the city’s infrastructure since the last time she served on the council.
“North Main should be one of our concerns,” she said. “So much relies on that infrastructure.”
Chesnut said business owners need to be involved.
“We will have to accommodate them. We are a tourist community,” she said. “I’d like to see it dealt with in a structured form, have a plan in place rather than an emergency situation.”
A new public works facility is secondary, she said.
Chesnut also plans to place campaign signs in the district and do a mailing to her constitutents.
If elected, she said fairness, integrity, honesty, trust, care and her love for the city would guide her.