When he went to Dayton’s annual caucus on Jan. 27, Tom Van Veen had no plans of running for town treasurer.
To his surprise he was nominated and will appear on the April 7 ballot.
Van Veen is challenging incumbent Brenda Hewitt who has served as town treasurer since 2007.
“My dad passed away and my mother didn’t want to live alone in the country, so my husband and I moved back to Dayton in 2006,” Hewitt said, who lives in the home where she grew up. “After Roger Green passed away, I called the town and offered to help. They needed somebody to fill in for Roger.”
Born and raised in the Waupaca area, Hewitt is a 1976 Waupaca High School graduate. She attended cosmetology school and worked as a hairdresser for about 13 years.
“When I started working in accounting, I didn’t have any official training, but it was something I always loved to do,” Hewitt said.
In the early 1990s, Hewitt began working in the payroll department of several large firms, including Krause Publications and Faulks Bros.
She is currently an accounting assistant, payroll specialist and tax preparer for Janssen Accounting and Tax Services in Waupaca. She has been there since 2003.
“I enjoy the work and I enjoy the people,” Hewitt said regarding her role as Dayton’s town treasurer. “I have a good relationship with taxpayers because I’m a good listener. People can sit down and talk with me about their taxes.”
In addition to keeping track of Dayton’s revenues and expenditures, Hewitt is responsible for paying the bills and making deposits.
She is also responsible for the Parfreyville cemetery and for licensing dogs.
She said dog licenses are among the most challenging aspects of her job.
“I don’t know why it’s so difficult to get people to license their dogs because it’s only $5,” Hewitt said.
Hewitt also noted that the current tone of town meetings makes her uncomfortable.
“I think things have gotten out of proportion,” Hewitt said. “I’m an elected official, so I get calls or comments about the board’s decision. I just say, ‘That’s what elections are for.’ It’s politics and it doesn’t matter which level – state, national or local – there’s always two sides. We’re human and we don’t always get along.”
Married with four children, Van Veen grew up in northeastern Wisconsin.
He attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and in 1988 earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management with an emphasis on accounting. He moved to Madison after college where he worked as a bank teller and church financial secretary until moving to the Waupaca area in 1995.
For nearly 20 years, Van Veen has worked in Waupaca as lead accountant for the district office of the Assemblies of God.
He is also the treasurer for Special Touch Ministries, a non-profit Christian organization that serves people with disabilities.
“I think that my diverse background gives me a unique perspective on how to communicate in ways that people understand,” Van Vee said.
I understand what is needed for financial reports, how to interpret them and how to communicate what the numbers really mean clearly and effectively.”
Van Veen said he believes proactive communication is the best way to avoid the ongoing conflict in Dayton.
“If people are aware of the reasons for your decision, they may still disagree with it, but at least they know the thought processes behind it,” Van Veen said. “They can understand the situation from your point of view.”
If elected treasurer, Van Veen hopes he can be a resource for other town board members and for the town of Dayton.
“Whether I win or lose, I’d like to help bring back some unity to the town,” Van Veen said.