Primary set for Feb. 20
By Robert Cloud
Three candidates for Waupaca County Board will face off in a primary election.
Pete Bosquez and Vance Knuth are challenging incumbent Supervisor Carl Kietzmann to represent District 21, which encompasses the town of Caledonia and part of rural Fremont.
The candidate with the least primary votes on Tuesday, Feb. 20, will not appear on the general election ballot on April 3.
Bosquez worked for the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office for 23 years before retiring in May 2017.
Currently employed as a substitute educational assistant for the New London School District, Bosquez is licensed to work with special needs students.
He can be seen at Sugar Bush and Readfield elementary schools.
“I will walk around with students to calm them down and get them refocused, while the teacher continues working with the rest of the students,” Bosquez said, describing one of his responsibilities.
Bosquez said he is running for county supervisor because he wants to encourage more efficient use of tax dollars.
“I was interested in running for sheriff, but when I researched it, I realized that any money I saved would be pushed to a different department where it could be spent inappropriately,” Bosquez said.
He believes the county’s budget problems are “not so much wasteful spending as poor planning.”
Bosquez noted the county spent $170,000 on computer equipment for the Crimes Against Children program.
“It took four years to get that program up and running,” Bosquez said, adding that the state Department of Public Instruction already had a program that did the same thing.
“It’s an awesome program, but there are other people doing it,” Bosquez said. “I think there are more efficient ways it could have been done.”
When asked about Waupaca County closing two facilities last year, Lakeview Manor and Waupaca County Industries, Bosquez criticized the planning for both closures.
“I took them years and years (to close Lakeview Manor),” Bosquez said. “They were throwing $1 million a year at it.”
Bosquez said Lakeview Manor offered no direct benefit for county residents because it served so few of them.
On the other hand, he said WCI directly benefitted county residents.
“Special needs people had jobs. They loved it and they loved going to work,” Bosquez said.
As with Lakeview Manor, Bosquez said WCI’s closure seemed to need better planning and better communication with the families served by the program.
“It seemed like the decision was made so quickly that there was no safety net, that they were scrambling to replace it,” Bosquez said. “If there were legitimate reasons to close it, they weren’t communicated with county residents.”
Bosquez was born in New London and graduated from New London High School in 1980.
A member of the county board for 24 years, Kietzmann also served as the Caledonia town clerk from 1983 to 1993.
Among his accomplishments for Caledonia, Kietzmann helped organize fire protection for the town by working with the Dale and New London fire departments.
Currently retired, Kietzmann became involved in the dairy industry after he left the Army in 1960.
Initially, he owned and operated his own trucks for 20 years, then worked for Land O’ Lakes Dairy until he retired in 1999.
From 1999 to 2012, he also worked for Gannett.
For about 40 years, Kietzmann said he worked part time as a bus driver for the New London, Clintonville and Waupaca school districts.
As a county board member, Kietzmann chairs the Agriculture, Extension and Education Committee, which oversees UW-Extension, and the Nutrition Advisory Council, which oversees the county’s eight senior nutrition sites.
He is also a member of the Health and Human Services Board and the Solid Waste Management Board.
“I like to keep up with everything that’s going on,” Kietzmann said. “It’s a good thing to watch where the money is getting spent.”
He believes the county board made the right decision when it closed Lakeview Manor and WCI.
“I wanted to close that facility in Weyauwega when they got rid of the farm 20 years ago,” Kietzmann said. “It cost taxpayers $1 million a year. We were competing with old folks homes thoughout the county.”
Kietzmann noted the county was also losing money on the operations of Waupaca County Industries.
“There were four buses transporting people all over the county,” Kietzmann said. “Some of them would be on the bus for more than an hour.”
He also pointed to changes in state funding that encourages the county to help the disabled find jobs within the community rather than work in a shelter.
“Closing those two facilities was a real accomplishment,” Kietzmann said.
“I’ve been on the Caledonia Town Board for going on 10 to 11 years,” Knuth said. “I think we do a good job here in the town.”
Knuth said he is running for county supervisor in part because he is frustrated with the county’s lack of support for small towns.
“We pay a lot of money into the county, but if we want ordinance enforcement we have to pay them overtime and have a letter of understanding,” Knuth said.
He said he is frustrated that Caledonia is “down on the bottom” of the county’s priorities for law enforcement.
Knuth said more patrols are needed because Rawhide Boys Ranch is located in the area.
“It’s a good program but sometimes residents walk away and break into people’s homes,” Knuth said.
He noted that most towns in Waupaca County do not have a police force, and must rely on the sheriff’s deputies.
“The county spends more money on parks than on the protection of residents,” Knuth said. “There are other things than recreation in Waupaca County.”
Knuth expressed the same level of frustration with other county committees.
“I went to a Zoning and Planning meeting and all they talked about was tweaking their ordinances for the town of Dayton,” Knuth said.
He also questioned the county’s half-cent sales tax, which was originally enacted in 1989 to pay for the construction of the courthouse.
“I have no problem with the sales tax, but it should be dedicated to a specific project,” Knuth said.
He noted Brown County’s half-cent sales tax for renovating Lambeau Field came to an end.
That county’s special sales tax began in 2003 and ended in 2015.
When asked about Lakeview Manor, Knuth said, “I think government should look out for people who can’t look out for themselves.”
He questioned the county’s management of the facility and suggested the county should have increased wages for the nursing staff rather than offer bonuses.
He also pointed to the 2018 county budget that provided money for leasing 13 squad cars and hiring two new officers for drug enforcement.
Knuth said closing WCI in Manwa “was a crying shame.”
“I think they did wrong by shutting it down,” Knuth said. “There are some programs the government should keep in place.”
Knuth said WCI gave the people it served the dignity of work.
Knuth grew up in the Fox Valley and built a home in the Readfield area 26 years ago.
He was an industrial electrician and worked for a flexible packaging company in the Fox Valley until he retired in 2013.
In addition to his service on the town board, Knuth was president of a community club that raised money for playground equipment, restrooms and benches for a park in Readfield.
“Everything was donated,” Knuth said. “A lot of times, you can get things done at no cost to taxpayers.”