Spring Election 2017: Salem Lakes village president candidate questionnaire answers

Voters in village of Salem Lakes will have the opportunity to vote in a contested village president election on Tuesday, April 4.

There are two candidates for one seat. Voters will be able to vote for one individual. The candidates with the highest vote total will win the seat.

Each candidate was sent the same request for biographical information and a set of questions. Following are their answers:

Bruce Nopenz — Age: 53. Education: BA University of Wisconsin, CSS Business Harvard University. Occupation: Sales. Previous elected/appointed public office: Village of Silver Lake President. Do you live in pre-merger Salem or Silver Lake? Silver Lake.

Diann D. Tesar — Age :58. Education: Masters Degree in Education from National Louis University, Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work from University of Milwaukee, Medical Assistant Degree from Gateway Technical College. Occupation: Westosha Central High School. Previous elected/appointed public office: Town Chairman 2011-2017, 2006-2009; Salem Town Supervisor 1991-2005, 2010-2011. Do you live in pre-merger Salem or Silver Lake? Salem.

1.) What will be your top priorities if elected Salem Lakes village president?

Nopenz — My top priorities will be working with the fire department to develop a recruitment and retainment program to ensure our community is efficiently protected at all times. I’d also like to initiate a feasibility study about building a sports complex. Other important items are; down town Salem and Lake St in Silver Lake. Both areas will need to be looked at for development. Now is an opportune time for Salem development on Hwy 83, with the cooperative agreement with Paddock Lake coming up in 2026. I also feel the 10 Lakes in our community need to be protected. They are central to what makes our community special.

Tesar — One of my top priorities, if elected, is to work with the new board and discuss priorities. I want to know what our resident’s long term vision of the community is. The new board needs to be on the same page so I propose some round table discussions. We need to focus on moving progressively. We’ve had a road paving program up and running for years now and we need to continue with that including Silver Lake now. I believe the Village of Salem Lakes has a great reputation and is known as a community that gets things accomplished.  This is the result of a lot of hard work by many people and we need to continue that.  The Village needs to focus on a long term plan, a strategic plan, which outlines development, housing, and recreational needs.   Another priority will be to guide the village through the next budget process.  The Village Board will have to carefully look at a new budget for the combined community and decide how to fund services that address all of the community equally while maintaining an efficient and cost effective government.    Another priority and this would also be ongoing, will be to continue to collaborate with Kenosha Area Business Alliance to further expand and develop our industrial park. So far, we have one tenant with a few perspectives in sight.

2.) Why are you the best choice for Salem Lakes village president?

Nopenz — I’m the best choice because I have a strong business background, which has served me well in improving Silver Lake. I’ve made difficult decisions and worked through difficult problems, all in the effort to serve the public. I bring fresh ideas and a tireless effort to serve the community.

Tesar — I have the knowledge and a unique perspective and commitment to the well-being of the village. I am genuinely interested in listening to the various viewpoints of the community, and work to preserve the character and attributes that make Salem Lakes so unique. The new village has property values exceeding one billion and I have the experience of balancing budgets, keeping taxes affordable and maintaining a well developed, well balanced village.  I offer my constituents a “real voice” and I have shown that I can identify and outline procedures to implement “best practices” into the Village.  I will openly listen to the voices of all constituents and vote accordingly, fostering a culture of transparency and accountability, and putting the interests of the public first. No self-interest and no rubber-stamp.

3.) 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?

Nopenz — This topic has been batted around enough. When this was initially brought up, I was told that one of the options was to keep Silver Lake street names but we would have to add the emergency numbers. If this option has changed I have not been told.

Tesar — “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. I am truly happy that the addresses of all our residents will remain the same for now. This was a big issue for most, but in my opinion, only when it involves safety should it be changed. As it is now, Salem uses the numbered grid system. Silver Lake uses names and independent numbering. If we deem it necessary to change, the Silver Lake Names would remain the same but adopting numbers that coordinate with the county grid system would be implemented so both entities will be corresponding with one another.

4.) What is your position on the proper role of a public safety department?

Nopenz — Police work should be conducted by trained police personnel. The public safety group, which exists in other communities, can serve the community in ways that doesn’t interfere with actual police work. Public safety can work on ordinances that need enforcing and with 10 lakes in the community, water patrol is important to all lakes that allow motorized watercraft.

Tesar — I am pleased with the state of our public safety dept.  Twenty years ago when we started the public safety dept., it was created to “clean up the town”. The board’s intention was to remove junk cars from yards, clean up yards, and basically enforce the ordinances of the town. It evolved over the years to where we were a year ago. I am in full agreement to allow the Kenosha County Sheriff’s to handle any civil or law enforcement issues while allowing Salem Lakes to remain in ordinance enforcing and water patrol.

5.) What efforts do see as necessary to bring the new village together as a single unified community?

Nopenz — Time is the biggest thing that will bring the communities together. Public events and festivals are important as well. One thing I’d like to see is wards established in the new community so equal representation can happen which will bring balance to future boards.

Tesar — A lot of unification has been going on for some time already ie: fire and rescue, highway maintenance. Once the newly formed board is in place, there needs to be some open discussion as to what everyone sees as priorities in the village. The Village Board needs to develop trust in its new constituents, follow through, and be upfront and honest. I have a lot of faith that this merger is going to be a great experience and have positive outcomes for all concerned.



  1. Bruce Francart says:

    Win or lose, I hope all contestants stay involved in the village politics. Working together as one village, is what is best for all. Good luck all! Next Wednesday all new ones should be sworn in!

  2. Mike Ullstrup says:

    Let’s take a look at this “wards” idea…

    First, and I know this is a nit, but we already have wards…13 of them! The fact that, once again, Mr. Nopenz says something and means another is either purposeful or shows lack of knowledge about how things work. And yes, Silver Lake had wards, too…three of them so the idea of wards should not be new to him.

    Central High School sort of/kind of has this. Each board member must come from a certain municipality. (The entire district votes for everyone regardless of where the candidates come from). This limits candidates because for instance one member must come from Paris and one from Salem even though Salem should have a larger pool of people to draw from. I would much rather have the five best candidates coming from wherever rather than forcing someone to come from a certain area. This also limits competition as you can see with the lack of turnover on the Central board.

    On a practical level, adding another level of voting districts would only add to the number of ballots that have to be managed across the village. With this election, there are something like 8 different ballots to manage due to the overlapping districts for four grade schools, two high schools, and keeping the Silver Lake polling place. (There is nothing different on the Silver Lake ballot from one of the Wilmot Firestation ballots except for ward numbers.) This ballot number goes up next spring when we add three county supervisor districts to the mix. If we have voting wards — which, oh, by the way, have to be equal in size and therefore may not line up exactly with the other districts — means another level of districts to overlay on this mess.

    But…hmmm….maybe this voting wards idea isn’t so bad after all. Let’s see, 14,000 people divided by 6 trustees is about 2,300 people in each of these “Nopenz” wards. That means Silver Lake (about 2,200 people) gets ONE — count it, ONE — representative on the board. In fact, maybe we should implement Mr. Nopenz’ plan right after this election when the three Silver Lake candidates will have lost their seats. We can then get rid of two more Silver Lake people off the board right away! Won’t matter if the two we lose are great trustees…they just won’t live in the “right” place.

    Once again, another poorly thought-through idea.

  3. Bruce or Diane? Their answers make it Clear! says:

    Top Priorities?

    Bruce; Develop the Fire Department, Build a Sports Complex, Downtown x 2 Development and Lake Protection.

    Diane; “to work with the new board and discuss priorities. I want to know what our resident’s long term vision of the community is”
    “round table discussions” “focus on moving progressively” “focus on a long term plan” “decide how to fund services”

    Why ‘Best Choice for President?’

    Bruce; “I bring fresh ideas and a tireless effort to serve the community.”

    Diane; ” I have shown that I can identify and outline procedures to implement “best practices” into the Village.”

    Public Safety Department?

    Bruce; ” Police work should be conducted by trained police personnel.”

    Diane; ” I am pleased with the state of our public safety dept.”

    What is ‘ necessary to bring the new village together as a single unified community?’

    Bruce; ” One thing I’d like to see is wards established in the new community so equal representation can happen which will bring balance to future boards.”

    Diane; ” The Village Board needs to develop trust in its new constituents, follow through, and be upfront and honest.”


    Bruce wants a professional police department. Diane wasn’t even aware of what her ‘Safety Department’ was doing. And we all know how that turned out.

    Bruce Nopenz gives clear and decisive answers. He has a plan and has already shown the fortitude to lead.
    Diane Tesar is always looking for which way the wind blows. On her watch the department heads didn’t even tell her what they were doing. Worse, she didn’t ask!

    The choice is Clear. Please vote and make your voice heard!!

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