Two candidates are in the race for Dayton town clerk
Sue Popham is challenging incumbent Judy Suhs in the April 7 election.
Dayton’s town clerk since 1993, Suhs said there is more to the position than taking minutes at the meetings.
“The job of a clerk is governed by state statutes,” Suhs said. “It has taken me a long time to learn how to do the job.”
She noted that town clerks are responsible for overseeing elections, training poll workers, posting public notices, filing financial statements and other documents with the state, being certified for the Board of Review and keeping up on state laws pertaining to townships.
Suhs grew up in a small Wisconsin town called Boyd, located near Chippewa Falls. Her parents moved here while she was a teen, and she graduated from Waupaca High School.
Suhs’ professional career began at Aid Association for Lutherans. She then worked as an administrative assistant for the vice president of Arctic Enterprises in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, then for the president of Borg Textiles in Jefferson, Wisconsin.
“My husband was a soil scientist for the federal government,” Suhs said. “When they finished the soil surveys in one county, we would be relocated to another.”
Suhs moved to Dayton in 1976 and worked from 1976 to 1982 for Jim Larson, who was then the vice president of human resources for Waupaca Foundry.
“I took 10 years off to be a stay-at-home mom,” Suhs said.
“When I decided to come back to the workforce, I wanted to work for a company that realizes that family comes first,” Suhs said. “The hospital was exactly that place. It has a great work environment with great people.”
Suhs has been working with the CEO at Riverside Medical Center since 1993.
Suhs said one of the hardest parts of being town clerk over the past two years has been conflict at the meetings and a lack of respect.
“We aren’t all going to agree on everything and that’s OK,” Suhs said. “I think it’s important that people realize that I have no vote and no voice on the board except as a citizen of the town of Dayton.”
Suhs believes better communication between citizens and town officials would help resolve some of the town’s problems.
“I’ve tried to encourage people to come into the town hall and ask for information,” Suhs said.
Suhs is in the town hall from 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays. She may also be reached by phone.
“Our phone system is set up so that if someone leaves me a message, it is forwarded to my cellphone. I try to call them back as soon as possible,” Suhs said. “Even if I’m not at the office, I’m still available to the town’s people pretty much seven days a week.”
Popham said she is ready for the challenge of learning how to do the job of town clerk.
“I would strive to continue the great service that Judy can be applauded for,” Popham said. “With a little bit of training, I know that I can do the job.”
Popham grew up in the Waupaca area and graduated from Waupaca High School.
She attended Madison Business College, became involved in a work co-op program and spent the next 12 years working in insurance.
In 1999, Popham and her family moved back to the area. That year, she and her husband started Up Town Pizza in downtown Waupaca. The restaurant closed in January 2009.
At the beginning of this year, the Pophams purchased Team Outfitters, a trophy and clothing shop in Waupaca.
For more than seven years, Popham has worked as a payroll specialist for Janssen Accounting and Tax Service in Waupaca.
“Four years ago, I was thinking about running for the town treasurer’s position, but I didn’t want to run against a co-worker,” Popham said.
Brenda Hewitt, Dayton’s current town treasurer, also works at Janssen Accounting.
“I’ve been interested in government since I was in high school when I attended Badger Girls State,” Popham said.
Organized by the American Legion Auxiliary, Badger Girls State is a one-week summer program that provides hands-on training in how state and local governments work.
“Now that my kids are older, I feel I have more time to pursue my interest in government,” Popham said.
Popham said she preferred a position such as clerk or treasurer rather than as supervisor or chairman due to her background working in offices.
Popham said she hopes Dayton’s officials and citizens can develop a better communications during meetings in the future.
“I would hope that the people in the audience would have more respect for those on the town board than they do now,” Popham said.
Popham said she has not yet decided when she would have office hours at the town hall, if elected.
“I have the flexibility to work nights or weekends,” Popham said.
She noted that residents could call or email her at any time and she would get back to them as soon as possible.