Maggie Hintz-Polzin and Brad Rokus will face each other on the election ballot Tuesday, April 7, to represent District 5 on Clintonville’s city council.
To help inform voters where the candidates stand on the issues concerning Clintonville, the Clintonville Tribune-Gazette asked Bressette a series of questions. The questions and her responses are listed below.
What are the three most important issues facing the city of Clintonville?
Hintz-Polzin: 1. The recipe for poverty in Clintonville. I am concerned about the level of taxes that residents pay compared to the level of income for residents in Clintonville. The median income for Clintonville is $34,340 with state median of $51,059, yet our taxes are the second highest in Waupaca County and at the top 3 percent of all Wisconsin cities. I am concerned about people being able to afford to live here, as well as what our community offers them.
I want to focus on what is coming in and what is going out and be realistic with the budget in terms of looking into cleaner and more cost-effective energy, as I have experience with this in my employment role. We should go through the budget with a fine tooth comb and reevaluate and simplify wherever possible, looking for the “sweet spot,” which exists where there are financial savings, yet promote relationships with each other and with nature when we look into increasing the city revenue.
2. Energy-saving projects. I would like to focus on green energy projects, which not only decreases our carbon footprint, but also provide long-term financial benefits. As sustainability coordinator at ThedaCare, my job is to identify areas that include all three components of the triple bottom line: financial, social, and environmental benefits and focus on improving those.
I propose that we should look into LED lighting for example, which decreases energy use and saves on maintenance costs and use these savings from energy to lighten our tax burden and utility expenses. I also believe we should look into hydroelectricity at our dam or other projects that could increase our revenue with clean energy, make us more self-sufficient, and decrease our dependence on fossil fuels which we now know are limited.
3. Economic development. I would like to see and help organize more citizen-focus groups to find out what people are interested in and move forward from there. I think such community cohesiveness such as our local farmers’ market and community garden are awesome. We should be expanding these venues so more of our residents participate and look forward to them. We need to focus on practicing new skills, education, and futuring for resiliency in our rapidly changing world.
I want to promote a sense of value for our local employees and collaborate with our businesses to promote the wellbeing and value of their employees. We have businesses here that we want to stay here. These are long standing businesses that are engrained in our culture. Perhaps we could consider a Labor Day parade and fair which highlights the relationship between our businesses and their workers. We want to partner with them to build a new Clintonville economy with new ideas that are based upon our strong heritage. We want a city that people can afford to live in. We need to focus on affordable food, utilities, taxes, and things to do.
Rokus: The three most important issues facing Clintonville at this time are:
1. The dysfunctional government that we currently have. We have a lot of tough issues ahead. Unless we can start to work together, we will never be able to start work on them, much less bring a positive resolution to them.
2. The dysfunction has not allowed us to tackle the budget issues we face. This issue alone will greatly affect the future for all the citizens of Clintonville. This is by far the most important issue we face, but because of the dysfunction, we are not even able to have a serious conversation about it. The conversation at some point always seems to devolve into a side-bar discussion that does nothing to help come to a decision about the bigger issue.
3. Maintaining and improving our current infrastructure. This is a huge issue. Clintonville is aging at a rapid rate. This is because we have not done enough to take care of the investments that we have made in this city.
I understand that we only have so much money to be able to accomplish what needs to be done. Because of that, we need to have serious discussions on the current and future budgets for the city, but we can’t do that because of the dysfunction that we face at the council. You see, all of these issues are related, and the solutions may boil down to the simple fact that if we can work together and listen to one another we can overcome any obstacle.
If elected, what would you do to find solutions to those issues?
Hintz-Polzin: I believe in transparency in our local government. I am not sure that this has happened in the past.
I would like to dig into conflict of interest possibilities.
I also believe in change. We cannot simply continue business as usual. We need to harness innovation and focus on health and relationships. I want to see our people living more simply and realize how much consumption drives our daily lives, be it working slavish hours, taking out mortgages we cannot afford, and running up credit cards and debt.
The way we live now with our focus on more “stuff” has led to emptiness and loss of relationships, not only between ourselves and our families, but also our relationship with nature. These are values that resonate strongly with me and all of our citizens.
Rokus: 1. The best way to improve the dysfunctional council is to be able to work with both sides of an issue. There has been a lack of effective cooperation on both sides. If elected, I will judge an issue based on the facts, and not the emotion, and not based solely on whose idea it was. I will listen to both sides, and make the decision based on how it will best serve the people of Clintonville.
The first step to solving the budget crisis is to get the council back to work. We need to be able to effectively work together, and cooperate on this. No one person or one group is going to get everything they want. It’s a balancing act that we must seriously undertake to insure that the final product is the best product that will benefit the city in the most positive way. Without cooperation from all, there is no hope on getting our fine city back on track.
Having worked in municipal government for the past fifteen years, the majority of my time spent managing water and wastewater utilities; I have a strong background in maintaining, improving, and finding the funds necessary to be able to pay for the improvements with the smallest impact possible on the rate payers.
When it comes to infrastructure maintenance, if you are not looking ahead, constantly improving, you are moving backwards. It is impossible to stand still. The infrastructure is always aging, always deteriorating. If you are doing nothing, you are losing ground.
What are your ideas to fix Clintonville’s budget problem?
Hintz-Polzin: See above and below.
Rokus: The budget as a whole needs to be looked at. Some tough decisions need to be made. There are areas where we can possibly utilize our current staff in different functions than what we do now.
We need to explore different ways of operating our city to maintain or even improve the current levels of service. There are some things that a government can do well, and some it can’t. We need to improve our efficiencies in the areas that we perform well in, and rethink our involvement in areas that we perform poorly in.
We can’t keep doing the same things over and over again, without changes, and expect better results. We need to effect change, not be satisfied with underperforming. We all can effect change. In order to do that, our government needs to be willing to listen. I will listen. I, with your help, will effect change.
What do you think the city should do with the outdoor swimming pool?
Hintz-Polzin: The finances of the pool need to be analyzed seriously. Several city focus groups need to come together to decide whether an indoor and outdoor pool are appropriate for the community.
There are destination water park options which could make Clintonville a tourist attraction that is affordable and accessible to communities in Waupaca and surrounding counties. The data to analyze this is very available.
Continuing at its current state is probably not a viably long-term solution. But I think people like an outdoor venue in the summer if we can have it make financial sense. We have the second highest property taxes in Waupaca county so we need some amenities to justify that cost.
Rokus: The pool, in my mind, should not be looked at as a revenue source. It is a service that the city provides to its resident’s. Just like all services, we need to find a way to provide the best product for the smallest fiscal impact on the taxpayers.
In order to do that in this case, we first must find out what level of service the taxpayers want. We must ask them what they want, when they want it, and at what level of cost are they willing to pay. After those questions are answered, we must then try to find the best, most economical way to provide that for the taxpayer.
The pool belongs to all of us, therefore, we all need our voices to be heard, and we all will be responsible for the associated costs.
What do you think the city should do with the Rec. Center building?
Hintz-Polzin: The building is historic and is in need of restorative efforts. We need to seriously look into continuing our utilization of this building or moving its amenities elsewhere in the community.
I think the services offered there are really conducive to our relationship building, such as the food pantry, sports availability, and now movie night. I would like to see these events and services continue or even expand.
Rokus: The Rec building also provides a level of service that many in the community find important. We need to find a way to maintain the current level of service in the most economical way possible.
At this time, I don’t think we can provide that level without the Rec building. Because of that, we need to find a way to maintain and improve access to it. Clintonville has always had a high level of community involvement. We need to ask for the community’s input, and help to make this building a sustainable place to provide the necessary services to this city.
What is it going to take to create harmony between both the council and the citizens of Clintonville?
Hintz-Polzin: Transparency is an absolute necessity. I am not sure that we have had the transparency in the past that a small but vital community like ours needs to have. We need to aspire to much greater understanding about conflict of interest and really realize that we are in this together to project a legacy for our children and grandchildren that we can be proud of.
Rokus: Open communication. The Council needs to do a better job of listening to all of the citizens and do a better job of listening to each other. In some cases, egos have gotten in the way of getting things done that would improve our city. That is the goal after all, improving our city.
To do that, we need to get better at communicating with the people on both sides of an issue, and with the citizens and neighbors in our community. One of the best ways to improve communication is to set ones ego aside, do less telling, and more listening. When one understands both sides of an issue, it is much easier to make objective decisions based off the facts of an issue, and not the emotion.
We need to listen to our fellow citizens, look at the facts, and make the decisions that are in the best interests of our residents.
Why should voters elect you?
Hintz-Polzin: Clintonville is a community that I am proud of and I’d like to see that continue. I am not a politician; rather, I am a mother, wife, and nurse looking to improve the health and happiness of our community members. Through my combined experience as a nurse, my undergraduate degree/education in both Human Biology and Human Development, and now as a graduate student in sustainable management, I know the importance of health and wellness in our communities.
I am an 11 year resident of Clintonville. I was born in Clintonville Community Hospital and grew up south of Marion on a family dairy farm. My children go to the schools and daycare here and participate in sports.
I not only have an investment in this community, but I’d like to bring my expertise to the city I love. I plan to put it to use with a focus on relationship building and resilience in a time where change is occurring at greater rates than ever. I’d like to focus on our stories and do futuring to ensure our writing a good story for the next generation. I plan on asking the right questions and not to continue business as usual.
Rokus: The voters should elect me because not only do I want to see Clintonville succeed and move forward, I have the tools and experience to help make that happen.
I understand what makes government work well, I know where it struggles. I know how to listen to the voices of the voters, and I know how to let those voices be heard. It is far less important what I want, and far more important what the people want and envision. This community belongs to all of us. We all need a voice on how it is to be shaped.