Bagstad seeks to unseat Krause in Clintonville
By Bert Lehman
Lance Bagstad, Clintonville High School principal, is seeking to unseat incumbent Jim Krause for a District 1 seat on the Clintonville City Council in the election Tuesday, April 5.
To help inform voters where the candidates stand on the issues concerning Clintonville, the Tribune-Gazette asked the candidates several questions. The questions and their responses are listed below.
What qualifications do you have that would help you when serving on the council?
Bagstad: I have served in an elected role on the village council in my former community and not only enjoyed the experience, but worked with members of the community and the surrounding area to bring residential growth to that community. In my time serving on the council in my former community, I was able to develop a solid working relationship with other council members, the village president, businesses, the school, and the community. I believe my ability to develop these relationships is vital for being an effective elected official.
Additionally, in December of 2015 I was appointed, and subsequently was approved by the Clintonville City Council, to serve on four committees/commissions. I currently hold a seat on the Badger Power Marketing Authority Board, was appointed to the Transit Commission, hold a seat on the Housing Special Committee, and was approved as a member of the Board of Review.
Lastly, I feel that my seven years as a high school principal (and ten plus years in school administration) have given me the opportunity to work with a variety of stakeholders in the community. I am charged with ensuring the smooth operation of the high school and serving both the staff and the students on a daily basis. Also in my role as the high school principal, I am charged with developing and maintaining the budget for the building. Further, I have developed, changed, and modified policies that impact the day-to-day operations in the high school and, to some extent, the district. I believe that working with large numbers of people, managing a budget, and understanding the impact of policy are extremely important components to being an effective elected city council member.
Krause: I am a veteran and chairman of the Veterans Memorial Committee. I have been a resident of Clintonville since 1970. I served 28 years on the Clintonville Police Department. I’ve been involved in most every aspect of our city government. I’ve known and talked to every mayor and alderman since 1970. I know how the city works.
What are the two most important issues facing the city of Clintonville?
Bagstad: There are a number of issues that are facing the city right now, but I feel there are two major issues that need to be addressed.
1. We are a community that has experienced limited business or residential population growth over the last several years. We have seen some new business and some expansion of existing businesses, but more needs to be done.
2. The division and lack of connectedness among elected and city officials and among residents in our community.
Krause: The two most important issues facing the city of Clintonville are the funding for the Hemlock Street project, downtown redevelopment, and retaining Chuck Kell as city administrator as long as possible. He’s saved hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars since taking over as administrator. His knowledge is unquestionable. I only wish we had had him many years ago.
If elected, what would you do to find solutions to those issues?
Bagstad: There is not a simple answer to the questions of how we promote business and residential/population growth for our city. We need to continue to work with our current businesses, big and small, to find ways that we can support their needs. We also need to have city officials seek out possible new businesses who might be looking at expanding to our community and find out what we can do as a city to attract these new business. We also need to look at ways to promote the city of Clintonville to make it attractive to families. Finding ways to attract new residents to our city is vital to the success of our current businesses, can help attract new businesses, and is good for our schools. I believe we need to find ways to promote partnerships between city government, the Clintonville Public School District, and the business and industrial community.
Along with these three entities, we need to have a cooperative working relationship with our Chamber of Commerce. Through cooperative efforts between these entities, we can promote all of the positive aspects of our city and surrounding community to encourage more business growth and entice residents to our community. None of these entities — city government, business, the school system, or the Chamber of Commerce — can do it alone, but together we can support each other to encourage progressive growth in our city. I firmly believe that in a small community, all members of the community must work cooperatively to promote the positive in our community. By working together to promote all of the positives in our community, all entities, and ultimately the citizens, will benefit.
Over the course of the past couple of years our city has become very divided based on decisions that have been made at the city government level. Whether you supported or disagreed with some of the decisions that were made, the division has had a lasting impact that is not beneficial for moving the city forward. The divisiveness has created a fracture in the community that does not foster the needed connections necessary for success in a small community. This is a continuing issue that is even becoming a part of the current election cycle.
I was asked by a potential voter which side I was on. I responded by asking the person what was meant by that. The response was, “Well, you know there is a division on the current city council and among the residents.” I responded by saying that there is only one side that matters when you are an elected official and that is to be on the side of the residents of the city of Clintonville. If a decision is simply being made because of “whose side” one is on or whose idea it was, that decision is shortsighted and selfish. Decisions, regardless of where the idea originated, must be made with two things in mind — the best interest of the citizens and fiscal responsibility.
Krause: I don’t believe there are any issues that can’t be worked out with the city administrator and cooperation of the council.
The city of Clintonville has used undesignated fund balance funds to balance the last two budgets, what does the city have to do in order to stop tapping into this fund?
Bagstad: Using an undesignated fund balance to balance an annual budget is a very shortsighted solution that can lead to some very long term problems. The use of the fund balance should be reserved for one time projects, not to offset ongoing expenses. To use the fund balance for ongoing projects becomes a very slippery slope and is not fiscally responsible.
Balancing a budget is a process that takes careful planning and is necessary for the long term financial health of the city. During the process we need to be looking at the budget as a whole. We need to be sure our expenditures are balanced with our revenue. One of the things that I would like to do as a member of the city council is to sit down with department heads and representatives from each of their departments to discuss creative ideas that they might have for working through difficult economic situations. Often, we forget to include these people in the conversation and we can miss important perspectives for solving problems. The best problem solvers are often those living the situation each and every day. With their input, I can better serve the needs of each department, while at the same time serving the needs of the city’s residents.
Additionally when balancing the budget there may be cuts which need to be made. Those cuts have to be looked at both in the short term and in the long term. If a budget cut or change is made for the short term, but may have negative long term consequences, the proposed cut or change must be looked at more closely before simply making a cut. Simply making a cut just to say a cut was made is irresponsible. The full impact of a budget cut must be researched thoroughly before a final decision is made.
Lastly, we need to develop a comprehensive fiscal plan and vision. We need to continually look at what the needs are for the city and the residents and project what those costs might be as we look forward. We need to look for ways to plan for the needed expenditures with the vision in mind and determine the most fiscally responsible way to see our vision through.
Krause: These issues were brought on by the previous administrator and administration. They can and will be corrected.
The city of Clintonville spent more than $100,000 on the investigation of and settlement with former city administrator Lisa Kotter, but no official report was released to the public. In an effort to promote open government, should a report of the findings of the investigation be released to the public? If yes, why should it be released? If no, why should it not be released?
Bagstad: This question has multiple layers to it that make it more than a simple yes or no answer. With that said, I do believe that some report should be released so that the taxpayers of the city know exactly what transpired during the course of this investigation. Whenever that kind of money is spent on and investigation and settlement and no report of findings is released, it creates suspicion. Government needs to be transparent in order to be trusted. As author Stephen M.R. Covey notes in his book, The Speed of Trust, openness can inspire trust and credibility and to be closed creates mistrust and suspicion. This is true of people, organizations and government.
Certainly, there are aspects of the investigation and settlement that would be considered personnel matters and should not be released to the public. In addition, there are aspects of the investigation which, by agreement between the parties, could not be released. Beyond the aforementioned stipulations, a summary of findings that led to the decision and settlement should be released. The residents of the city of Clintonville have a right to know how and why nearly $110,000 ($18,729 from the contingency fund for the cost of the investigation) of taxpayer money was spent. For elected officials to keep that information from the residents, in my opinion, is unethical.
Krause: What was done with the Lisa Kotter case was in the best interests of the taxpayers and the city of Clintonville. We were going in the wrong direction and with our new city administrator, I feel the ship will be righted.
The city’s outdoor swimming pool has been an item of discussion for more than a year, but no solutions have been presented. What process does the city need to follow in order to make a decision about what to do with the outdoor swimming pool?
Bagstad: The swimming pool is, and can be, a great gathering place for families in our community. I know some on the current council are in favor of closing the swimming pool. Granted, there may be some costs associated with the updates and repairs needed. Unfortunately we do not know these costs, because no study has been authorized. The operation of the swimming pool is a service for the residents of the city. I understand that some may say that the city should close the pool because there is a pool at the REC Center attached to the high school. However, an outdoor pool is a great, inexpensive place for families to gather in the summer.
There needs to be a process developed to move this project forward. The first step needs to be to discuss and authorize a study of the pool, the pool building, and the mechanical components of the pool to determine what work needs to be done. The second step is to charge the current Ad Hoc Pool Committee to brainstorm ideas and to develop a survey. This survey would allow input from the citizens to determine what action they would like to see taken for the pool. In addition, the survey would help determine what residents would be willing to support for pool repairs, upgrades or replacement.
Once it is determined what the residents would be willing to support, the Ad Hoc Pool Committee and the City Council need to work together to determine how to fund what the residents would be willing to support. Although this would be a process that might take up to a year to complete, it is the right way to go about making a decision. Ultimately the City Council would have to make the decision, but that decision needs to be based on the feedback from the residents.
Krause: The outdoor pool issue is very hard to address at this time. We don’t know the insurance payoff and don’t have any estimates to repair or replace. We’re looking at $4.5 to $5 million to replace.
I will not vote for that. We already have an indoor pool that we could invest our tax dollars in. Every outdoor pool in our area including Shawano and New London have closed. That’s why the Rec Center was created.