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Primary for Shullsburg Mayor

Primary for Shullsburg Mayor

Three running for Shullsburg Mayor - must be pared down to two for General Election. (L to R): Gloria Swenson, Emmett Reilly and Duane Wedige.

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POSTED February 15, 2018 1:47 p.m.

There will only be two names on the ballot on April 3 for the mayoral seat for the City of Shullsburg, but who it will be is unknown since there are currently three people running for the mayoral seat: Emmett Reilly, Gloria Swenson and Duane Wedige.  A primary on Feb. 20 will determine who will be on the ballot come April.
In order to let voters know a little more about each candidate, the Republican Journal sent them a questionnaire. Their answers follow below.

Gloria K. Swenson

Occupation: 

I am retired from teaching and I am the current Mayor of the City of Shullsburg.   I have the time to do the job.

Family Background:

I am the mother of 2 wonderful sons, who were born and raised in Shullsburg and attended school here.  My granddaughter lives in Shullsburg and is a junior in the Shullsburg School District.  I taught in the public school system for over 34 years, including 18 years in Shullsburg as a high school English and Spanish teacher.  I received a Master’s Degree in Education Administration in 2001 and a Doctor of Education Degree in Administration in 2008.

What previous political experience have you had?

Since April 2014, I have held the position of Mayor for the City of Shullsburg.  While a teacher in the Shullsburg School District, I was the President of the Shullsburg Education Association.  I have also been the President of the Badger Historical Society in Shullsburg.  I have been an active member of the Shullsburg Community Development Corporation for over 25 years.  I help with all activities for that organization including Cheesefest, the annual Tour of Homes, the Christmas Parade, the Dickens Carolers and Music in the Park.  I directed and wrote music and additional scenes for the Shullsburg Historical Pageant, “Diamond Rings and Other Things.”  I attend the Lafayette Development Corporation meetings, to stay in touch with county issues.

What qualifications do you have for the position sought and what do you feel you have to offer? 

I have worked on budgets as a teacher, an administrator, as a former business owner, and as the mayor for the City of Shullsburg.  As the president of the Shullsburg Education Association, I worked on negotiations with staff.  As the mayor, I help negotiate the contract for workers in the city of Shullsburg.  I was the curator of the Badger Mine and Museum when it was taken over by the Badger Historical Society.  This involved preparing a budget, hiring and supervising staff, giving tours, keeping records, overseeing finances, and maintenance of the facilities.  This experience is especially helpful because the Badger Mine and Museum is now managed by the City of Shullsburg.

Why are you running for mayor?

I am running for mayor because I truly care about Shullsburg and the people who live here.   My only agenda is to research issues and look at both sides.  Councilmen vote on the issues.  But we have a member of the council, who is running for mayor, who has spread misleading information.   I must be honest.  I am tired of being lied to and having members of my council threatened and bullied.  I am disgusted with the behavior of this councilman who leaves the table during a meeting in order to manipulate a quorum.  You, the people of Shullsburg, voted for the mayor and city council with the expectation that they sit at the table, discuss issues and do what they believe to be the best for the city.  The behavior I have seen is reprehensible.   I am running because I will not be bullied, I will not be threatened, and I am sick of being lied to.  There is a lot at stake here.  It is not easy being the mayor.  I do not go on vacation.   I do not see my family as much as I would like to.  It is difficult to go to a house at 5:30 in the morning knowing that 2 people have died.   And I am reminded of how grateful I am for the police and firefighters who put their lives on the line everyday for Shullsburg.  I am grateful for the workers who are there when there is an electrical problem, or a water, sewer, or street problem.  I am grateful that the roads get plowed.  I am grateful for an office staff and clerk who get things done and makes sure the bills are paid. I am grateful for all the businesses and their cooperation with the city. I am grateful for all the churches, congregations, library, committees and organizations that donate time and effort for the good of the city.  And I am grateful for the lady who called a few weeks ago and left a message to thank me for resolving an issue. (That does not happen very often.)  I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of Shullsburg, who make this city the wonderful place it is.  This is why I am running for mayor.  

What are the most important issues facing the city right now?                                                                   

The Parkview development is the most important issue facing the city right now.  There have been many misconceptions being spread about this. I have heard that people are being told that their property taxes are going to go up $300.  I do not anticipate any increases in taxes based on cost estimates prepared by an engineering firm.  The cost of financing the project, given the present market, will be generated by tax revenue from TID 7.  The financing costs have been reviewed by the auditors.   Positive tax revenue generated by a TIF district can be used to promote economic development in both residential and commercial property.   Growth helps the community.  It encourages more children in our schools, more people available to donate time for organization and more tax revenue.  This also helps economic growth for our businesses. 

The land in the development is going to be donated to the city.  The lots are going to be sold for $1.00.  In my work with Lafayette County, I have learned that there is a need for housing in the county.  There are few places to build.  There are few places to rent.  When a house is built, it helps generate the sale of another house that is affordable for someone to buy.  The Lafayette Development Corporation is hoping to have a housing study to research housing in the county.  I would like to see Shullsburg participate in this study.  It is important for Shullsburg to move forward.   

Another issue we are working on is the speed limit issue in regard to Highway 11.  The state recently passed a law permitting municipalities to allow recreational vehicles to use roads in the municipality.  However, the speed limit on the roads must be 35 MPH or lower.   We have been battling with the DOT to get the speed limit lowered to 35 MPH on Highway 11 through Shullsburg.  This is a safety issue as well.   

As mayor, what are steps would you take now and in the future for the benefit of the City of Shullsburg and its citizens?

I will continue to do my best to fulfill the responsibilities of being the Mayor of the City of Shullsburg.  I will continue to study the housing issues and work with the county.  I will continue to research issues.  In the future, I would like to see green space, a place for people and especially seniors to walk.  Data suggests that a community with green space and walking paths will attract visitors and stimulate economic growth.

Additional comments/ideas                                                                                                                                              

In Shullsburg, you can spend a few hours, a weekend, or a lifetime.  Shullsburg is a wonderful place to live.

 

Emmett Reilly

Occupation: I’m in insurance sales.

Family Background: Married to Jeanne with 5 children and 3 grandchildren. Grew up in Shullsburg, but went to school in Fennimore. Moved back in 1983 and have lived here ever since.

What previous political experience have you had?

I was elected three times to the Shullsburg School Board. This will be my third year on the Shullsburg City Council.

I have also been the past president of the Lion’s Club, past Worshipful Master of the Masonic Lodge Amicitia #25, and am current Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus.

What qualifications do you have for the position sought and what do you feel you have to offer?

What I have to offer is consistency. My background in insurance and working with insurance companies showed me that one of the greatest things is finding what needs to be done, listening to the people, getting the facts and following the procedure. I know procedure quite well and I know things can get done until you do the paperwork.

I am very consistent and persistent in getting things done. I love working with people. I look at people’s concerns as opportunities to help them because there are so much you can learn when you are listening. You find what they want to do, the procedure that should be followed and then help them get there. You want to be positive and make things happen. That is a huge difference from how the city is run now.

Why are you running for Mayor of Shullsburg?

Because I like it and I like being a part of the city council. I enjoy helping people and listening. When I am out listening to people, I want to give them the opportunity for them to be heard and I don’t see that now. I hear so many people say that when they get to meetings, they get shouted down, yelled at or talked over. That has to stop. As a public official, when that happens to me, that is part of the business but when citizens come in and don’t get a chance to express their opinions, that is not good business. I want to give people the chance to get their ideas out.

We need to be more inclusive and more positive moving forward. We need new people. We need to put some new people into committees with some of the original people but we do need new people to generate some new ideas.

What are the most important issues facing the city of Shullsburg right now?

To keep the city affordable to our residents, which means keeping taxes and utility rates lower. Our city has a lot of senior citizens that are fixed incomes. We have a lot of young people who are starting jobs. The most important thing for our city is to keep it affordable. From reading the Main Street report, affordable housing for low and moderate income and people retirement age is a huge concern.

Another huge concern is the storm sewer. I have become very well aware of the fact that our infrastructure and storm sewer is very lacking. We need to proceed at a pace of upgrading our storm sewers. We have issues that aren’t going to go away and it needs to be addressed.

As mayor, what are steps you would take now and in the future for the benefit of the City of Shullsburg and it's citizens?

Listening. Listening to the people of Shullsburg, offering the respect of their opinions and having listening sessions once a week on Saturdays or in the evenings because many people can’t make it to the meetings. People have so many other things going on. They have families, commitments and things to go to so there needs to be time where people can come to the mayor on a regular basis and give their concerns. Anytime anyone wants to call me, they can call my cell phone or stop by my house.

I look at questions as opportunities to help and move the city forward instead of a negative.

Additional comments/idea:

As a mayor or city council person, sometimes we can harm more than we can help. The city or the school district will run on its own if you back off and let people do their job. We are there to make a positive addition and not to be negative and move forward. Sometimes things run very well when you stay out of the way. Like I always say, it is a great day for America.

Duane Wedige

Occupation: Retired Mail Carrier

Family Background:

Married to my wife Michele for 45 years in March; daughters, Gayle Wedige Doyle is a teacher in Belleville and Taryn Wedige Apodaca does Electronic Publishing at Lands End in Dodgeville; son, Travis Wedige is a supervisor at the main post office in Madison.

What previous political experience have you had?

Mayor April 1990-April 1993

Councilman April 2017-present

Also currently council president

What qualifications do you have for the position sought and what do you feel you have to offer?

My 4 years as mayor and councilman gives me the hands on experience I need to execute the duties of this office. My several years as an owner and operator of a private business known as Jacksons’ in Shullsburg helps me to make financial decisions and deal with the city budget. It will also help me to work with employees since I have worked as a manager and co-worker with employees in the past.

Why are you running for Mayor of Shullsburg?

I would like to set the committees up with people more in tune with the positions that they have to work within the city departments that they chair. Also to work closely with employees to make things run more efficiently.

What are the most important issues facing the city of Shullsburg right now?

The city needs to increase its tax base to help it grow. We need more numbers to help pay the cost of ever increasing expenses and to deal with the mandates that the state is continuously making the city follow. One huge example would be the new building at the sewer plant to deal with phosphorus at a cost of approximately $250,000. This is one reason we need to increase the tax base to have more citizens helping to pay the cost to keep our own share of the expenses lower. We need more housing to also help our school district. The city has been stagnant too long. If we are to maintain our infrastructure and increase our ability to grow, we need new housing and new business to help our tax base.

As mayor, what are steps you would take now and in the future for the benefit of the City of Shullsburg and it's citizens?

I would work with Advance Shullsburg to help our existing business and industries to promote their growth along with attracting new business and industries. Shullsburg has been idle too long. If we don’t increase our tax base more and more burden will be put on our citizens, which is hard on our people living with fixed incomes.

I know some people don’t like change, but we need to look at our neighboring cities that are growing and will leave us in the dust if we don’t start to progress. One of these days I’m afraid we won’t have our own school and then no grocery store or maybe the post office will be gone. We need to wake up and smell the coffee or one day we will have to go to another city to do just that.

 

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