Voters in the new village of Salem Lakes will be able to vote in a primary election for village trustee on Feb. 21.
The primary election will narrow the field of eight to six, who will appear on the ballot for the April 4 general election.
This is the first election in Salem Lakes, which was created by the merger via cooperative plan of the village of Silver Lake and the town of Salem. The merger was official Feb. 14.
Each trustee candidate was sent the same request for biographical information and a set of five questions. Following are their answers:
Dan Campion — Age: 62. Education: Warren Twp. High School, College of Lake County. Occupation: OEM Sales Manager. Previous elected/appointed public office: Current member of the Salem Town Board. I’m completing my 6th year in office.
Mike Culat — Age: 64. Education: 1 year of Trade school after High School, 200+ hours of training as a Paramedic in the State of Illinois, several hundred hours of real estate education. Occupation: Licensed real estate broker in Illinois and Wisconsin. Previous elected/appointed office: Serving my 3rd term as Supervisor in The Town of Salem.
Patrick Dunn — Age: 63. Education: Some College, College of Lake County, Law Enforcement and Gateway Tech, Fire Sciences. Occupation: Fire Investigator. Previous elected/appointed public office: Elected Village Trustee, Village of Silver Lake
Eric Ericksen — Age: 57. Education: Trade School. Occupation: Electrician. Previous elected/appointed public office: One term as trustee for the Village of Silver Lake.
Dennis Faber — Age: 71. Education: Riverview Grade, Wilmot High, KTI. Occupation: Semi-Retired, Currently Sales, Marketing Consulting. Previous elected/appointed public office: Appointed to fill a Supervisor vacancy in 2003 re-elected ever since.
Ted Kmiec — Age: 55. Education: DePaul University BA Political Science 1984, De Paul University College of Law JD 1987. Occupation: Attorney. Previous elected/appointed public office: Town of Salem Board Supervisor, 2011 to Present.
John McEntegart — Age: 65. Education: Bachelor Science Electronic Engineering. Occupation: Semi-Retired currently work part time as a Library Aide and Teachers Aide. Previous elected/appointed public office: Current Chairman Hooker Lake Management District.
Joe Wade — Age: 51. Education: Bachelors from the University of Iowa. Occupation:National Sales Manager. Previous elected/appointed public office: Although I have no political experience I bring a wealth of leadership and business knowledge. I have worked in both large and small companies making financial and operational decisions on a daily basis. I have built many highly functional teams and have I have a proven record in the business arena.
1.) Do you live in pre-merger Salem or Silver Lake?
Campion — Town of Salem.
Culat — Currently living in Salem.
Dunn — Silver Lake.
Ericksen — Silver Lake.
Faber — My family has lived in Salem and Silver Lake since the 1800’s. I was raised in Silver Lake and for the last 35 years have lived in Camp Lake, Town of Salem.
Kmiec — Live in the town of Salem.
McEntegart — Salem.
Wade — I live in Salem.
2.) What will be your top priorities if elected to the Salem Lakes Village Board?
Campion — Complete the merger between the two municipalities. Integrate the Town & Village services. Provide a calming presence to the electors in the new village.
Culat — My top priorities will be to analyze the needs of the new village as a whole and develop a comprehensive plan that will serve the needs of all of our residents. We need to look at future development opportunities and their locations, both commercial and residential. By becoming a village we will be in better control of our own destiny. I will be spending a lot of time in the existing Village to meet residents and learn their thoughts and concerns.
Dunn — To work for economic development and to reduce the tax burden on the residents.
Ericksen — To facilitate a smooth transition to a larger, more efficient village.
Faber — I am committed to rehabilitating and protecting all our lakes and see our new “Village of Salem Lakes” as the perfect “namesake” to advance this agenda. In 2003 I proposed developing a mini Rex-Plex and now by combining our communities believe this is closer to becoming a reality and want to bring this possibility to the forefront. Combining and updating Salem’s and Silver Lakes 2035 Comprehensive plans (mandated by the State) so Salem Lakes is prepared to advance development and increase our tax base so we can continue to provide top notch services, at an affordable price.
Kmiec — Ensure a smooth transition for the new Village of Salem Lakes. Continue to work with the excellent employees of both Salem and Silver Lake to ensure them a good transition and to continue excellent local services to the residents of the new Village. Continue to work to provide excellent Fire and Rescue coverage for the residents. Continue to work on infrastructure, with a priority on resurfacing and maintaining our roads; Salem has made excellent progress on our roads. I would like to see us continue to improve our Parks, including more ice rinks in the new Village. Encourage business investment/development and new home construction. Continue to keep our taxes down.
McEntegart — Most of the people I have talked that live in the current Town of Salem have expressed a concern that taxes will increase. The budgets for the current Town and Village are set for this year. However, as the budget for 2018 is established a top priority will be to see that we move forward in a fiscally responsible manner that will avoid or minimize any potential tax increase. The second priority will be to spur local business development. We need to adhere to the comprehensive plan developed in 2010 to help us keep the small businesses we have and to attract new business. The Village will have new zoning authority we need to utilize this authority to our advantage. Having a vibrant small business community helps keep money in the Village, provides jobs, and improves the overall health of the village. Another priority will be to work on keeping our natural resources healthy. The Village is populated by 9 lakes that our citizens enjoy, as well as the Fox River. The years that I have worked on the Hooker Lake Management Board have shown me how fragile our lakes are.. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources offers a large amount of educational material, and also provides grants to assist individuals and municipalities with waterways protection. The new Village needs to take advantage of these resources, and provide more opportunities for our citizens, businesses, and visitors to help protect the health of our waterways.
Wade — The number one priority of any trustee should be to make sure the transition to one consolidated government goes smoothly. We need to look at each towns operations and choose the best and most efficient way to get the job done. In addition we also need to work on improving the roadways of Salem Lakes as well as work on new ways to bring business development into Salem Lakes to keep the tax base down and move Salem lakes into the future.
3.) Why are you the best choice for Salem Lakes village trustee?
Campion — Experience: Six years as a Salem Town Board Supervisor. Organizations: Wisconsin Towns Association. Political Committees and Groups — Town Committees: Administration, Communications and Public Works; Town Liaisons: County Board and Voltz Lake District. Community groups and/or volunteer positions: Town of Salem Pumpkin Daze, Easter Spring Fling, and Santa Comes to Salem. I also strongly support the Sharing Center and Westosha Senior Citizen Center.
Culat — I feel I have the distinct ability to listen to all sides of an issue, do the necessary research, and make informed decisions. I also take the time to learn the workings of the various departments in our town and make the best decisions for our people. Over the last 5 years I have made it a point to be out in the Town listening to people and their concerns. I have brought those concerns to the whole board and where feasible we have addressed them. I have successfully mediated differences between neighbors, groups and associations over the last 5 years and I believe Salem is a better place to live than it was 5 years ago.
Dunn — Having been a trustee for nearly six years and been able to cut waste from the Village government I believe I would be best suited to continue moving the new Village forward.
Ericksen — I trust that the voters of the Village of Salem Lakes will make the best choices for the trustee positions. I can tell you that I am fiscally conservative and I will always base my voting decisions on what is best for the WHOLE community, now known as the Village of Salem Lakes.
Faber — As a testament to my commitment to serve Salem over my 14 years I have only missed 2 regular monthly meetings. Respectfully, because of this commitment and my accomplishments many old timers and new comers have shown their appreciation by supporting and encouraging me in my decision to continue this dedication as a Village Trustee. I have had the privilege of serving in harmony with Joe Meyer, Pat O’Connell, Josephine Weidman, and our current Chairman, Diann Tesar and our current board. We haven’t always agreed but Salem is significantly better and no longer headline confrontational news. I am proud to say I have played an important roll in promoting this harmony and successfully and affordably guiding Salem since I’ve been in office. What has been accomplished? Our Town tax is just $3.50 per thousand of assessed value. Our credit rating is the highest, AA. Financial institutions aggressively bid to buy Salem’s bonds which mean lower interest rates. In fact, we recently borrowed to construct the infrastructure in the Business Park we are developing in partnership with KABA at under 2% interest. We have refinanced debt, paid off loans and lower service costs. We paved many miles of roads, fixed significant storm water problems, built a ten plus million dollar highway, fire building and have not raised taxes to pay for it. We bought approximately 140 acres for parks using impact fees and DNR grants. We have bought new trucks and rescue equipment and only raised taxes by pennies to do so. I am committed to using me 14 years of proven decision and leadership skills to make “The Village of Salem Lakes” superior in services at the most affordable cost and a great place to live and raise a family just as I have done for Salem.
Kmiec — I think I’m the best choice for several reasons. I am invested in the Community as both a homeowner and business owner. I served on the Salem Town Board since 2011, and during that time period I believe that Board established an excellent reputation for cooperation and working together with the citizens of Salem and the employees of the Town in providing good stewardship and leadership. We left the Town of Salem in excellent shape and I sincerely hope the citizens residing in the new Village of Salem Lakes allow me the opportunity to see this merger through and continue to provide quality representation as one of their Trustees.
McEntegart — I have lived in the community for 25 years. Over these years I’ve enjoyed many of the benefits of life in Salem, including good schools, libraries, parks, lakes, roads, and municipal services. A primary task of the new Village Board will be to manage the transition, from the communities of the Town Salem and Village of Silver Lake into the newly unified Village of Salem Lakes. The trustees will have the responsibility maintain and improve the services we depend on while managing costs as we move forward together. My 20 plus years of experience as an executive in the information technology industry as well as the years of service on the Hooker Lake Management District have provided me a solid skill set. This skill set gives me the tools necessary to provide the sound management and leadership skills that we will need in the new Village of Salem Lakes.
Wade — I am an outsider. I came to this community 3 years ago. I have attended as many meetings as possible to understand how things are handled and the issues at hand. I feel I bring a new perspective and fresh ideas to the town of Salem Lakes. Because I am an outsider I have no agenda and I will make my decisions based on the benefits to the citizens of Salem Lakes.
4.) What is your position on Silver Lake addresses? Should they be changed to be more in step with the rest of the new village or remain as they are now and why?
Campion — I want the merger to be as non-invasive as possible to the residents, whether they are from Silver Lake or Salem. The residents of Silver Lake should have a say in this matter. Therefore, I suggest a referendum. We have already agreed every location in Silver Lake will have the Blue address number.
Culat — Silver Lake addresses should be left the way they are. They have served the village all these years and I have yet to hear of any problems with the existing system.
Dunn — Silver Lake has an address system that was set up before the grid system. We as a Board voted to retain our addresses and our uniqueness. We will retain our current addresses. There is no reason to change them.
Ericksen — The Silver Lake addresses should stay as they are. Most of the roads in Silver Lake do not run North, South, East and West, therefore the county grid does not overlay Silver Lake roads in an organized manner.
Faber — In my opinion and for the foreseeable future, there are many more important issues to resolve than changing address. I have all the confidence that our Fire and Rescue personal can provide the leadership necessary so anyone assigned to service Silver Lake can find their way. For now, unless the citizens overwhelmingly want this issue resolved I would advocate leaving them as is.
Kmiec — The residents of Silver Lake should keep their existing addresses; it would be an unnecessary burden on them to change them.
McEntegart — The Silver Lake addresses should remain as they are now. Unless there is some over riding safety concern brought to light there is no need to require the current Silver Lake residents and businesses to go through the loss of identity and all of the work needed to notify all concerned parties about their new address.
Wade — I think the addresses should remain the same. I do not think changing the addresses will make any difference. there are better ways to unify the community and other ways to spend money to bring the community together.
5.) What is your position on the proper role of a public safety department?
Campion — We still need to finalize the agreement with the County Sheriff’s Department for coverage of the new Village. Public Safety Department should concentrate on enforcing village ordinances and water patrol. Public Safety will play a major role in the new Village as we integrate and understand all ordinances of the combined municipalities. An exception would be if formally requested by the Sheriff’s Department to assist in an incident they deem as needing our presence. The County Sheriff’s Department is better equipped, trained and legally covered for instances that may occur with regard to traffic and public disturbances.
Culat — Given the fact that we will be a village, state law mandates that we have Police protection. The current plan to continue to contract with the Kenosha County Sheriff is a good workable plan. The Sheriff is responsible for all the training, equipment, personnel, and most importantly the liability. Unless we have the resources to hire, train, and retain good qualified individuals, we will always be a revolving door for new-hires looking to get experience to move on to good-paying full -time jobs. Over the last 5 years I have not heard from anyone in the Town that wished to have a full-time police department.
Dunn — The Public Safety Department should have a very limited role in the new Village. I believe they should only be maintained for patrol of the lakes and water safety.
Ericksen — I feel that the proper role of a public safety department is that of water patrol and ordinance enforcement. In my opinion all traffic ordinances and law enforcement should be handled by the Sheriff’s Department.
Faber — Salem’s Public Safety Department came about primarily to provide water patrol and ordinance enforcement. Salem Lakes will contract with the County Sheriffs Department which I am in agreement with. I have never been an advocate of establishing our own Police Department. I do believe however, that these certified officers should be allowed to react to situations as needed, but only after contacting the Sheriffs Department first and if asked by the Sheriffs Department to assist. An example may be the Sheriffs Department is dispatched and not available to respond in a timely manner or our Safety Officers could relieve a Sheriff (direct traffic) so they could respond to a greater need. I am an advocate for making sure they work in harmony but certainly not at the same level of responsibility as I do want to minimize the Village’s exposure to a potential problem.
Kmiec — Our Public Safety Department should be assigned to Water Patrol and Non-Traffic Ordinance violations. I believe contracting with the Kenosha County Sheriff to provide Police coverage is more efficient and a better use of our resources.
McEntegart — The village public safety department should try to focus on enforcing zoning and code enforcement, along with expanding water patrol duties. The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department has done an admirable job enforcing the traffic and criminal codes for many years, and I think we should continue that relationship. Our fire and rescue services are also top notch, and we should aim to keep it that way.
Wade — I think public safety should enforce ordinances and work with the community to teach and enforce safety for all Salem lake residents.
6.) What efforts do see as necessary to bring the new village together as a single unified community?
Campion — Treat all the citizens in the Village of Salem Lakes with the same matter and respect. “We are in this together.” The Village is made up of many “Hamlets”. They all have a special place in the Village and bring their own unique environment and flavor. Let’s leverage this uniqueness each offers to benefit one and all.
Culat — I think the basic ground-work has been laid by both current boards. We have already started on a plan to consolidate resources and personnel. Obviously there will be a number of issues that will arise, but I feel we have already done most of the heavy lifting. Thanks in large part to our administrator and the various department heads from both entities. What will be needed going forward is a good understanding of the needs of each department and the plan to meet those needs. We will collectively look at the new village as a whole and identify and prioritize all of the needs of the new village. I feel this is the time when experience in local government is most crucial. Recently we budgeted to hire a parttime director for our Parks department. I am excited about this as we have numerous parks in both Village and Town and it will be good to have someone co-ordinate the efforts to best utilize these facilities. I am also looking forward to the implementation of my plan for more Village-wide events like Pumpkindaze to help bring people in the new Village together.
Dunn — I believe the efforts to bring the two together have been made. Each of our small areas are neighborhoods that combined make our great community.
Ericksen — Elected officials need to understand the needs of both communities to effectively move forward into establishing a socially unified community. All the hamlets are under one umbrella of the Village of Salem Lakes and we need to establish policies and procedures to benefit all that reside in the new village. There are no barriers or borders, we are all one.
Faber — In reality, the Town of Salem has never been recognized as a single unified community and the Village of Salem Lakes will have that same characteristics. In 1842 the Town was formed six years before Wisconsin became a state. Wilmot, Trevor, Camp & Center Lake, and other neighborhoods or hamlets have grown from that foundation and have always maintain their individual identity. Another consideration is that the Village of Salem Lakes will be approximately 32 square miles and the Post Offices of Silver Lake, Camp Lake, Trevor and Salem will maintain their names, zip codes and identity. Silver Lake was part of Salem’s growth until 1926 when they became a village. In my opinion, what is unique about Salem Lakes is the fact that these communities will keep their individual identity, just as before and become part of a single unified community under the umbrella of The Village of Salem Lakes.
Kmiec — Everyone needs to be a little patient with the process, there are always bumps in the road when change happens. In all the Public Hearings and in private conversations I’ve had, only one person has indicated that they were opposed to the merger. This is clearly something the great majority of citizens of both places wanted, and I’m proud to have been a part of making it a reality. It’s also something that will benefit both Communities in many ways. The new Village leadership needs to listen to input from everyone involved before decisions are made. I don’t foresee many difficulties and I believe the Village of Salem Lakes has a bright future as a unified community.
McEntegart –– The Town of Salem has been a single unified community for many years, providing the same services to everyone within the town limits. The merger of the Town of Salem with The Village of Silver Lake is expanding this community under a new name. We will still refer to our residences as being in local areas or neighborhoods such as Trevor, Silver Lake or Camp Lake etc., however I think we recognize that we are all part of a larger community. The new Village Board will need to provide sound leadership that will utilize the new rights and authorities granted to the Village to ensure we are all pulling in the same direction for the benefit of our friends and neighbors.
Wade — There are many efforts needed to bring the new village together. They include how to combine finances, services and boards. How to use existing facilities and how to address the questions and concerns of the village residents.