Spring Election 2021: Wilmot Union High School Board primary candidates Q&A

Voters in the Wilmot Union High School District will be able to vote on Feb. 16 in a contested election to narrow the filed for the School Board in the April election.

Incumbents Travis Wetzel and Deb Rudolph did not run for re-election.

The candidates for two seats are: Nate Colborn, Michael Faber, Philip Johnson, Melissa Samborski and Steve Turner. Four candidates will advance from the primary to the April ballot.

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

Here is their biographical information followed by their question responses, presented in alphabetical order:

Nate Colborn — Age: 41. Village, town, city where you reside: Twin Lakes
Education: 2003 Associate Degree in Construction Technology, 2013; Bachelor of Science, Business Administration and Management, 2015 Professional Management Certification, 2016 Master of Business Administration. Occupation: Facilities Management and Sustainment Superintendent for the Public Works Department at Naval Station Great Lakes. Previous elected/appointed public office: None.

Michael Faber — Age: 60. Village, town, city where you reside: Silver Lake in the Village of Salem Lakes. Education: Wilmot Union High School. Occupation:WE Energies Gas Inspector Semi Retired from 25 yrs.with local Telephone Company, (GTE/Verizon/Frontier). Previous elected/appointed public office: Silver Lake Village Trustee 1991-1995, 2 terms; Silver Lake Village President, 1995-1999, 2 terms; Wilmot Union High School Board, 2001-2004, 1 term; Wilmot Union High School Board, Appointed 2012-2014.

Philip A. Johnson — Age: 63. Village, town, city where you reside:  Twin Lakes. Education: Associate Degree from Pikes Peak Community College, Bachelor of Science Degree from Southern Illinois University. Occupation:  Retired Division Chief of Training, Kenosha Fire Department. Previous elected/appointed public office: Town of Randall Supervisor.

Melissa Samborski — Age: 49. Village, town, city where you reside: Village of Salem. Education: Master plus 24. Occupation: Kindergarten Teacher at Randall Consolidated School since 2000. Previous elected/appointed public office: None.

Steve Turner — Age: 51. Village, town, city where you reside: Twin Lakes. Education: Bachelors degree in: Psychology Human Resource Management Business Administration Minor: Biblical Literature Simpson University. Occupation: Executive, TransUnion. Previous elected/appointed public office: Currently serving on the Lakewood School Board since 2018; Served on the board of education at Wilmot Union High School from October of 2015 to April 2020. 

1.)  Why are you the best choice for School Board? 

Colburn — I have a diverse background comprised of private sector, civil service and over 20 years of military experience as an Air Force Civil Engineer, including 5 deployments with numerous awards and decorations. I have a proven track record for improving organizations, building team-centered coalitions and remaining resilient in the most challenging circumstances. I’m passionate about engaging the community, advocating for our students and strengthening our educational environment. Most importantly, I care about EVERYONE in the community. Find out more at NateColborn.com

Faber —  I feel with my past experience I would be an asset to the school during these troubling times, helping with the transition of a new administrator if and when that occurs, fiscal responsibility, building use, and most of all I have the time to make sure of a job  hopefully done with all view points taken into consideration. Thank you.

Johnson — Wilmot High School has been a part of my life since I entered as a freshman in 1971. My father is also a graduate of Wilmot. With these shared experiences, I felt confident sending my two children to Wilmot to receive the same quality education. Both have been able to continue their education and training to successfully achieve their career goals because of the strong educational base provided them. For the past 18 years, I served as a substitute teacher at Wilmot High School. Each day I saw firsthand how high-quality teachers interact with students. This firsthand knowledge will help me make the responsible decisions that are needed to maintain the quality of education at the school.

Samborski — I will be a great Wilmot School Board member because I have two sons currently attending Wilmot High School, and I am very vested in education being an informed educator. I know how important education is, and I want education to be accessible to all students attending Wilmot to achieve their life ambitions and become successful citizens making contributions for the betterment of our society.

Turner — I have a passion for the school and the overall scholastic experience at WHS.  I have had two kids graduate from WHS, a current Junior and a Freshman enrolled for next year which is to say I’m vested in the education provided.  Additionally, my background has equipped me to contribute at a unique level.  I have deep experience in  policy making, financial planning, team leadership and performance management all of which lend themselves to effective board governance. Additionally, I bring in excess of 6 years of board experience from two schools to the position.  Further, I have served on the WHS board for 4 years which gives me a strong historical context and good working knowledge of the administration and staff.

2.) What do you see as the most significant challenge facing the district and how should it be addressed?

Colburn — There are two significant challenges facing the district. First, finding the next district administrator who will collaborate with the school board to instill public confidence that we can do better than 325 out of 419 school districts. I believe the school board should start with utilizing resources that have shown to be effective for other districts in the same position, such as the Wisconsin Association of School Boards Search Services and/or a proven consulting firm to recommend a data driven approach.Second, developing a current strategic plan and district goals that ensure our students are college, career, and civic ready to succeed in life. This starts with an honest assessment of where the district is now, determine where we, as a community, want to be and putting a clear plan of action and milestones in place to close the gap.

Faber — I feel that there will be challenges throughout the years and all are significant, I plan on taking in all the facts and making an informed decision that is best for the students, sometimes that won’t be most popular decision, but it will be the correct decision for the students. Thank you.

Johnson —  It is important for us to secure a highly qualified District Administrator with a solid reputation for fair and honest leadership and vision to meet the challenges and demand of a current educational system. Through the application process, the most qualified candidate will prevail.

Samborski — Wilmot High School is developing a new strategic plan and having goals with the current school board, and I would like to be a part of the positive movement and be involved in that important work for our students’ successes. Wilmot High School has a new leader, and my experience as a mother and an educator will help support our new leadership for a successful transition into her new role. I also firmly believe in having open communication with my families and my students. Families need to be aware of what is going on at school with their students, and I feel that is a component I can work on at Wilmot High School to help improve communication between Wilmot and their families.

Turner — Wilmot is currently in the midst of one of the most challenging stretches in history and is battling these challenges without a formal DA.  Undoubtedly the Wilmot team is stretched and in need of support in these difficult times and my hope is to contribute to that support.  Additionally, we need to continue to find safe and effective strategies that keep our kids engaged, enthused and participating actively in both their education and extracurricular activities at Wilmot.  Virtual learning is a struggle and our kids (and parents) want to be engaged and involved.  Given we just don’t know how long our current Covid based environment will last, we need to continue to find solutions to enhance the high school experience safely but effectively for the kids, the teachers and the parents. My focus, if elected, will be to bring needed resources to the ardent team at Wilmot to ensure there is complete staffing as well as provide leadership and support to find progressive alternatives to safely enhance our kids learning and the overall high school experience for the kids, staff and parents. 

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