Mayor Don Morgan is facing Alderman Mike Kempf in the April 2 election.
“I think the council has to continue to work together as a team,” said Morgan.
Born and raised in Poy Sippi, he and his wife, Beverly, moved to Weyauwega in 1967.
This April marks the completion of 21 years of service for Morgan.
For 15 of those 21 years, he served as alderman, including five years in the 1970s. Morgan has been Weyauwega’s mayor the last six years.
Prior to retiring in 2007, he had a Sinclair bulk petroleum route. In 1966, he bought the service station at Sunset Curve.
Morgan also serves on the Waupaca County Board, having been re-elected to his second term last April.
“I think having been on the County Board has been a really good learning experience for me,” he said.
He said it has resulted in a good relationship between the county and the city of Weyauwega.
Morgan has been involved in Leadership Waupaca County and said, “One of the things I learned from Leadership Waupaca County was conflict management.”
His business experience means he has worked with different personalities.
“We have new council members and turnover through the years. I think it helps me work effectively with council members in the best interest of the city. I understand the need for money management. I understand financial statements. I understand financing, because I did a lot of it over the years,” Morgan said. “I learned to deal with the public. You depend on their goodwill to contine on. I regularly contact my legislators on issues that affect our city. I know our local representatives personally.”
He believes the role of the mayor is to advise the Common Council and to work with citizens who have questions or need information.
When asked what the city’s budget priorities should be moving forward, Morgan said, “Obviously, we have revenue limits.”
The city needs to budget the funds which are needed to continue providing the services taxpayers expect, he said.
It is important to continue supporting public safety, public works, recreation and the library.
“We need to continue growing,” Morgan said. “There are things that keep and attract families. I don’t know of any business or community that just wants to stand still.”
He said the city does need to be conservative.
“The other challenge we face,” he said, “are the older people on fixed incomes. They can get forced out of their homes when the taxes continue to go up. I think the whole city council, including the mayor, have to be visionary and have to look forward toward making an investment in our community to promote growth.”
Morgan said all of the city’s employees are excellent and are doing a great job.
When asked how the proposed expansion of City Hall fits into future budgets, he said, “We are now bonding for the sewage plant expansion. We can’t borrow for both at the same time. There is a need. We have inadequate meeting space at City Hall and a lack of privacy.”
Morgan also said City Hall is not handicap accessible.
Council meetings should be held at City Hall, instead of at the Weyauwega Public Library, he said.
The current arrangement is inefficient and not convenient, he said, adding that voting should also take place at City Hall, instead of at a church.
Morgan said there needs to be an environment which is attractive to families and to business and industry.
“It takes this mix to have a vibrant community,” he said. “One of my goals, if elected, is the city of Weyauwega does not have a vision and mission statement. Most communities do. If re-elected, that would be a goal.”
Kempf has served on Weyauwega’s Common Council since 1994.
In addition to running for mayor, Kempf is up for re-election this spring in the city’s Ward 3 and is running for that seat.
Johanna Edwards is running against him as a write-in candidate.
Born and raised in rural Weyauwega, Kempf has lived in the city since 1980. He and his wife Nancy have three daughters and three grandchildren.
He is the Waupaca branch lead at Charter Fuels.
Kempf’s civic experience includes being a past member of the Weyauwega Jaycees, the Weyauwega Fire Department and Weyauwega Ambulance.
He is an active member of Emmaus Lutheran Church, in the town of Lind.
“I’ve been there. I grew up there. I kind of know what the people are asking for,” Kempf said when asked how his professional and civic experience would help him as mayor. “My other experience I’ve had on the council is that we just need to let our city employees do their job and monitor them so that the people in the city (know) that their tax dollars are being spent wisely.”
At Charter Fuels, Kempf has to do budgets.
If elected mayor, he would seek to help City Administrator Patrick Wetzel with the budget.
“Working with customers is the same as talking to residents,” Kempf said.
He sees the role of the mayor as to make sure the proper information is passed on to the correct committees and to oversee the committees and make sure agendas are properly posted.
If questions arise among the city administration, he sees the mayor as being someone to assist them to make sure the city runs smoothly.
“I would also state my role is not to be a micro-managing mayor. We hire people to do their jobs, and that’s their jobs. If they have a question, they can call the mayor or a council person or set up an appointment,” he said.
When Kempf was asked what he believes should be the city’s budget priorities moving forward, he said, “The priorities should be trying to really get on a schedule to maintain what we have. With being on Public Works, I can see how we have fallen behind. We have to work with what we have in the budget, but we still have to maintain what we have to the best point. We’re limited to funds. We can’t do everything, but the biggest thing is to maintain what we have.”
Kempf voted against the motion to purchase the two buildings next to City Hall.
“I think we could utilize that money in a better way for better projects, like a storm and sewer vac, so we can maintain the lines. We have some buildings which need maintenance,” he said.
He said the tennis courts and basketball courts also need maintenance.
Kempf wonders if the police department could share some space with the county.
For example, when officers need to take evidence to court, they are transporting it to the court and then back to the city.
“Could they just put it there?” Kempf asked. That is something I would want to look into.”
He does not mind using the library’s meeting room for committee and council meetings.
“As a city taxpayer, I don’t see a problem,” Kempf said. “I know sometimes we don’t have the paperwork. If we do anything, the building immediately to the west of City Hall could be remodeled for a meeting room or storage or whatever we need. As far as the building next to that, I’m not sure what we would use it for.”
Kempf said, “When we were looking at both buildings, I and another council person asked to do a survey as to if the community’s residents said they would need and use a community center. What’s their thoughts on the building?”
He said if the city had to, it could make adjustments with its current City Hall structure by using space downtstairs and looking at installing an elevator to make it accessible.
“I know elevators are costly, but it’s never been thought of,” he said.
As someone who was born and raised here, Kempf said he remembers when there were three grocery stores and two hardware stores in Weyauwega.
“I realize that’s hard to have now. I’d like to see the community get back to what it was, to see Main Street filled back up,” Kempf said. “I think there’s been a lack of communication with the taxpayers. Working with the community and having a positive environment will bring more. Try to get everybody to work as a positive group. It’s their money. It’s not that we can’t do everything a community resident wants to do, but we need to look at it and put it on the table for the future.”
He believes it is important to work together, keep the citizens informed and seek their input.
“The biggest thing communities need to look at when dealing with things are, it is going to benefit our residents, is it going to help our employees do their jobs, and are the taxpayers aware of it, and do they think we need it,” Kempf said.