Spring Election 2016: Silver Lake village trustee Q&A

Silver Lake voters will be able to cast a ballot in a contested village trustee race on April 5.

Voters will be able to vote for three at-large candidates out of a field of six.

The same questionnaire was submitted by westofthei.com to each candidate, by email or by mail.

Here is their biographical information, followed by their question responses:

Laura Francart — Age: 34. Education: BS UW Milwaukee – Education MA Alverno – Education. Occupation: Teacher RUSD. Previous elected or governmental experience: None.

Kimberly Gerber — Age: 30. Education: Wilmot High School 2003. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee BA 2007, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Post Baccalaureate Teaching Certificate Program 2009 and 2013. Occupation: High School teacher for Kenosha Unified School District. Previous elected or governmental experience: While I have never held a political office, I have been interested in local, state and national politics and have exercised my rights to vote, call and email politicians and spread community awareness of issues.

Roger Johnson — Age: 63. Education: Tremper High School. Occupation: Palmen Buick GMC Cadillac sales. Previous elected or governmental experience: County Board 2001-2010, village president 2007-2011, village trustee 2014-present.

Eldon Johnston — Age: 68. Education: High School, Gateway Technical College. Occupation:Retired. Previous elected or governmental experience:
Silver Lake Village Board 1988-1994.

Bob Raymond — Age: 56. Education: BA Business Administration, BA Psychology. Columbia College. Occupation: Retired 32 years CIty of Lake Forest; Sales Associate Gander Mountain present. Previous elected or governmental experience: None.

Daniel Withers — Age: 36. Education: Undergraduate in Aviation and Business Administration; currently in MBA program with a focus on organizational leadership in process. Occupation: Product Support and Application Specialist for an Industry leading industrial supply company. Previous elected or governmental experience: Silver Lake Village Board member for the past six months.

1.) Why are you running for Silver Lake trustee?

Francart — I am running to be a part of the change that is taking place in our community. It is my wish to see more small business develop within our village, to help keep our taxes low and figure out effective ways to work with neighboring communities to do just that. I believe that Silver Lake is a great place to live and I am happy to be a part of it.

Gerber — I would like to offer a different perspective to the citizens of Silver Lake. I have seen how polarizing the current board has been and I would like to try and bring a balance back to our community. I would like to see Silver Lake retain its autonomy within the surrounding community.

Johnson — To keep Silver Lake a village. It is a beautiful place.

Johnston — I believe the board is moving the village in the wrong direction and we need to have a balance of power on the board. Most of the board has less that one year of experience. I am the only one running for the village board that is retired and has the time to dedicate to the village residents and I have 8 years experience on the village board.

Raymond — I am running for Silver Lake trustee to help keep the progress we’ve seen in the past year moving forward. After years of questionable leadership, the village has turned a huge corner. We are rising above all of the turmoil and strife. I would like to help see it through.

Withers — The areas in which I am most qualified to serve the residents of Silver Lake are those of driving organizational effectiveness as well as fiscal efficiency. In addition to three earned degrees, I am pursuing a fourth, through a Master’s in Business Administration focusing on Organizational Leadership. The reason I chose to run for Village Trustee was to invest the talents and skills with which I have been blessed to benefit all of our local residents.

2.) What will be your top priorities if elected?

Francart — My main priorities will be developing business opportunities in Silver Lake and working with the surrounding communities to help improve our own services within the village.

Gerber — I would like to see Silver Lake come together again as a community. I would like to see community events, such as Music in the Park and the Easter Egg hunt grow. I would like to see Silver Lake retain its autonomy within the community and continue to maintain, if not grow, its own services again. And I would also like to see Silver Lake working with the businesses and schools in town to create a community atmosphere.

Johnson — To stop giving away the village. Too many people have lived here their whole life. And it is bothering them what is going on.

Johnston —  First we should have a balance of power on the board so all residents are represented in making these very important decisions that effect our future in the village. There are property owners outside of the village that would like to be annexed into Silver Lake and we should be working to annex and bring services to them. For our village to survive we need to grow our tax base. Highway 50 is the next area where the major growth will be and we as a village should manage that growth. We should be working on ways to bring businesses and light industrial to our area. Businesses pay taxes and need a minimal amount of services and does not put children in the schools.

Raymond —  Priorities: A) See the transition in the Public Works be smooth and productive. B) Implement cost cutting efficiencies without reducing services. C) Spend the residents tax dollars wisely. And if possible, not spend them at all. D) Continue the great progress the current board has achieved.

Withers — To continue the hard work of rooting out the wasteful and inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. The continuation of this necessary work will allow the operating cost of the Village to continue to decrease while simultaneously allowing the financial health of the village to improve.

3.) Do you agree or disagree with the direction the current board majority has taken on issues such as police and fire protection, emergency medical services etc? Will you work to reverse any of these decisions?

Francart — The decisions that have been made in regards to the police and fire protection, I believe, have been for the best of this community. Our police coverage is still well and it reduced our village budget greatly. In my opinion, the merger of the Silver Lake Fire department and Salem Fire & Rescue was done for the betterment of all involved. We now have a fully staffed fire department within our village.

Gerber — No, I do not agree with the current direction the board is taking. I feel that Silver Lake has lost a tremendous amount of independent services: Police Department, Water Patrol, Fire Department, Public Library have all been lost. While I do understand the benefits of “shared” services, I do not like the way it was handled or presented to the community. I would like the board to spend more time looking at ALL options that surrounding communities have to offer, NOT ONLY SALEM.

Johnson — I am very happy unhappy with what is going on. There are a lot of people in Silver Lake that want to know about the library. The police dept was a good idea to save money. But the fire department I think could of worked. If I could do anything to reverse some of this stuff I would. But for now I am out numbered.

Johnston — The current board has given away our police and fire services and the rescue squad would have been gone if not for the contract with Salem Fire department. There is no money budgeted for water patrol even though the DNR reimburses about 65% of the cost of water patrol. This was done with no bids. All the police equipment has been sold so it would be harder to restart our own police services. I would work to end the contract for fire because it is too costly for the village, and either restart our fire department or put out bids with all the fire departments in Westosha area. I don’t believe we need, nor can we afford, the time and cost of having to wait for a paramedic on every rescue call.

Raymond —  I whole heartedly agree with those decisions. In today’s economic environment, combining and/or sharing services is becoming more common. Municipalities, big or small, find themselves with rising costs and budget restraints, having to meet the demands of residents, with less resources. We have saved with the Sheriff’s protection and have seen no rise in crime or fear of response. We have better medical services finally after decades of a corrupt and mismanaged monopoly. Our Fire protection now has full-time staff in station with immediate paramedic services. These are great accomplishments by this board. My hope is to help solidify and move these efforts forward.

Withers — Within the last three years, local residents have witnessed their Village transition from being on the brink bankruptcy to having a bright future with lower taxes. It has been my honor to both witness as well as participate in the reorganization of the Village in such a way that the core services which the Village provides have all been improved while simultaneously reducing their total cost.



  1. Sl Goverment says:

    The choice is very clear. Vote Raymond, Francart and Withers.

  2. more nonsense says:

    How strong can a candidate be if they have to run with two other people in hopes of winning? Village board members should be independent and do what’s best for residents and not just voting with your friends you ran with. Sad times indeed.

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