Two incumbent village board trustees and one write-in candidate are running for village president in the April 7 spring election in Hortonville.
Board trustees Al Habeck and Traci Martens are on the ballot, and write-in candidate Jake Kuhnke is also campaigning for the open position. Current village president Andrew Gitter will not seek a third term.
The three candidates responded to a brief election survey conducted by the Press-Star. Their names were drawn from a hat to determine the order of their responses in this article.
The winner of Tuesday’s election will serve a two-year term.
What are the three most important issues facing the Village of Hortonville?
Al Habeck: The three main issues facing the Village of Hortonville are, the by-pass of highway 15, the need for expanding the industrial park for the industries that are considering locating in the Village, and the most important part of these projects and others that would help the Village improve is where does the money come from to implement them. Grants help cover some of the costs for improvements, however, grants do not cover all of the cost. The Village of Hortonville still needs half or more of the cost of the grants. Raising taxes and borrowing are not the answer. We have had both industrial and commercial growth within the Village. What we have not had was residential growth. Lowering fees on new construction has not been the answer to jump start residential growth. As Village president I would sit down with the developers to come up with a compromise to get residential development started. Without residential growth, we as a village cannot afford the other needs.
Traci Martens: 1. Economic and residential growth. 2. Hwy 15 bypass and transition of Main St. from Highway to Commercial. 3. Village image.
Jack Kuhnke: The three most important issues facing the Village of Hortonville include; 1. Honesty, 2. Money, 3. Direction.
If elected, what would you do to find a solution to those issues?
Al Habeck: In my 15 years on the Hortonville Village board and 17 years on the Black Otter Lake District board I have worked with several state and local agencies to complete projects for the benefit of the Village at the lowest possible cost. After more than a year of working with Gilbert’s, the Village board came up with a plan for the business park that works for all involved. With the help of a sales agent, there have been different businesses that have shown an interest in the business park.
Traci Martens: I am very involved in several committees focused on economic development and village growth. These are both at the local level and at the county and state level. I am working hard to learn new tactics for bringing businesses into Hortonville and continuing to support those businesses already here. I have been reporting back to the local committees to see which ideas our community would like to implement. I believe our budget can be assisted by bringing in more businesses and residential growth. I also think we need to plan wisely in doing so in order to have a cohesive Main Street which is friendly to businesses and inviting to consumers.
My goal of making Hortonville a destination before the bypass is completed and impulse buyers are rerouted, involves strengthening our downtown by improving our focal point, increasing parking, accentuating amenities like the lake and creek and supporting businesses while utilizing collaborative efforts with developers and grants for infrastructure improvements.
We need to continue to improve on our communication and public image. As a Village Board Trustee, I have always been open to questions and concerns from citizens and I would continue to be so. If elected President, I am elected by the citizens and it is the citizens that I represent when I make decisions or take actions. I will continue to ask questions in return and seek input from citizens regarding the community. In addition to communication, I will continue to increase awareness of Hortonville by utilizing the newly created marketing materials and promotional video and encouraging community events, which increase consumer traffic. By putting Hortonville forward as a progressive community, we will continue to improve our Image. By supporting each other and local businesses, we will all become stronger. Hortonville is a great place, and I will continue to promote Hortonville for all the good that it offers and I will continue to work to improve the Village I love.
Jack Kuhnke: 1. Honesty—Being honest with the taxpayers not hiding anything from them, telling them the truth not what you think they want to hear. The future of the Village and Community depends on the truth. 2. Money—I need to find out where the Village is financially, and then where and how much goes into each area. Then I can address those areas individually. 3. Direction—I need to get this once great Village of Hortonville back moving forward and to keep it moving forward for years to come.
What, if any ideas do you have for managing the villages limited financial resources?
Al Habeck: Over the last several years, under Andy Gitter’s leadership, the Village board has done some good things for the Village of Hortonville. The new municipal building could be considered the top of that list. With the input of all the Village board members and the Village employees we came up with a building the whole Village can be proud of. With the help of the Village employees, we have received several grants to help cover costs of projects in the Village.
Traci Martens: There are two parts to financial resources, Income and Expenses. We need to work on both simultaneously. By bringing new businesses and homes to Hortonville, we increase the tax base which will help to cover fixed expenses. At the same time, we need to look at how we are spending our current resources and make sure we are exploring alternate funding like grants and foundation awards. In the past, Hortonville has worked hard to keep our budget as low as possible. When working with a limited budget, at times, it is important to remember that in some years one area may need to make cuts in order that another area can make necessary improvements. This give and take between departments can only happen when all the departments work together for the common good of the village. I hope to increase collaboration between departments and increase efficiencies within the overall staff. This was a goal when all the departments were brought under one roof. Now it is time to look at those collaborative opportunities more closely. We also need to look at how technology can increase our efficiencies. In some cases, we use record keeping processes that can be increased in efficiency by using technology rather than pen and paper records. This will involve some upfront costs to purchase software and enter data, but once implemented, this will increase the efficiency of the office and decrease the staff time to maintain those records and research data.
Jack Kuhnke: Again, I need to find out where the Village stands financially. Once I do that, I can look at all possible resources available, and then address the issues in each area.
Is there anything in your personal or professional background that will help you if elected to public office?
Al Habeck: I served 15 years on the Hortonville Village board and 17 years on the Black Otter Lake District board. I have worked with several state and local agencies to complete projects for the benefit of the Village, at the lowest possible cost. Having been a union member and a member of my union negotiating committee I can see both sides of the table and come up with a contract or solution that works for all parties involved.
Traci Martens: I have a degree in Economics and Finance from St Norbert College. I currently run my own Financial Planning firm, Franke Martens Group, with one other partner. This knowledge gives me a great understanding of finance, the difficulties of running a small business while wearing many hats, and the intricacies of employee benefits as they may relate to current budget constraints.
I have been a Trustee of the Village Board since May of 2011. In addition to my various committees associated with the Village Board, I also serve on the Economic Development Committee, Downtown Business Association, Urban Forestry Board, Friends of the Hortonville Library, and the Outdoor Parks and Recreation Committee. I am a member and past Vice President of the Fox West Chamber of Commerce and served 5 years as Chair of Chocolate Fest. In the past I served on the Hortonville Community Hall Options Committee, Village of Hortonville Strategic Planning Committee and on the Board of Education of Sts Peter and Paul Parish. During these terms, I have worked closely with the Village of Hortonville Department Heads, the Village Board and area business and religious leaders. This gives me a broad view of the needs of our community.
Both of these sides of my background give me a perspective that I think would be valuable to our community going into this fiscal year and beyond. I would like to utilize that knowledge as a President of the Village Board to help Hortonville grow and prosper as a community and as a strong business friendly environment.
Jack Kuhnke: I have a combination of 27 years of volunteering back to the community of Hortonville. I understand how important it is for the community to work together.
I also have been a shop manager for a local business in town for the past 20 years. They employ 50 people in their shop. I understand how important it is for everyone to be working together for a common goal. I also understand what local businesses bring and do for a small community like ours.
Why should voters elect you?
Al Habeck: The voters should elect me Village president because I will work hard to make Hortonville a place that everyone can proudly say, “I live in Hortonville”.
Traci Martens: My skills in finance and sales are a valuable resource for the Village in terms of marketing the community actively and aggressively while keeping a budget in mind. In addition, my organization skills regarding business development and community relations would enhance the long range planning needs. Lastly, my love of this community and the businesses and people in it create a drive and passion in me that would be a vital addition in our campaign to further the ambitions of Hortonville as a community and strengthen our businesses.
Jack Kuhnke: I am not a politician; I am an honest straightforward person that will do whatever it takes to get this Village moving forward. You will always get an honest and truthful answer, maybe not always the one you want to hear but it will be the truth.
Like everything else I do, you will give my very best everyday all the time with the best interests of the tax payers and the Village of Hortonville in mind. The future of this community depends on it.