With four candidates on the ballot for three village trustee seats, someone will walk away disappointed in Soldiers Grove come the spring election scheduled for Tuesday, April 2.
Incumbent trustees Vicki Campbell and Robert Froiseth will face challengers Paul Nicholson and Jerry Moran.
Froiseth has been on the board for approximately 16 years.
Bob Froiseth has lived in Crawford County his entire life. The 54-year-old was born and raised on his father’s farm near Fairview and graduated from Seneca High School.
About 18 years ago, Froiseth, a father of three and grandfather of two, moved to his current home on County B along the village’s northwest edge.
Serving on the board signifies a commitment to the community he lives in, Froiseth explained.
“I enjoy supporting our community, watching the budget, and the other duties of the board,” Froiseth said.
“Being on the board, it’s trying to do the right thing, work with the people, keep the village above water,” Froiseth continued. “Times are hard the last few years, not like it used to be. I think we’ve been really good spending-wise.”
Froiseth believes the village is good shape despite the economy, pointing to the soon-to-be-completed library expansion project, which the current board has supported.
“I would appreciate people’s vote,” Froiseth said, “and I’ll keep doing the best job I can for them.”
Fellow incumbent Vicki Campbell, 51, is a lifelong resident of Soldiers Grove, born and raised in the village, and graduating from North Crawford High School.
“I graduated from high school and went to college for a year,” Campbell said. “I went to WTC (Western Technical College) for a secretarial degree and then worked at Peterson Motors for 18 years as the accountant. I didn’t know anything about accounting, but I learned it on the job.”
Campbell left Peterson Motors when she and her husband built the River Inn motel in Boscobel in 1998.
Campbell has two grown children, who work for their parents in the Campbell’s Construction business. The children also help out when needed with the motel and Campbells’ One Stop convenience store and gas station.
Campbell and her husband have lived in the Olson subdivision on Soldiers Grove’s southwest side for 26 years.
“This is a wonderful place to live,” Campbell said. “Everyone knows each other, everyone respects each other. If anything happens, they’ll all come out to help.”
Campbell sees her business background and financial acumen as assets in continuing to serve on the village board.
“I want to see it through to the end of the library expansion,” Campbell said. “I was always for it, though I may have wanted to see a few aspects handled differently, and I made that known, but it didn’t happen my way.”
Campbell stressed that that was the nature of group decision making, each person speaks of their concerns and works from there. Nobody gets their way 100-percent of the time.
“I want to continue to do a good job,” Campbell said. “I won’t always agree with everyone. I will cast the vote I believe to be right. I will always try to do what I believe is in the best interest of the village.
“I think the village of Soldiers Grove is one of the most well-off villages around, right now,” Campbell said. “We still have money in the bank. We’ll still have stuff to do, so my biggest goal is to keep the village from having to raise taxes to do it.”
Campbell sees attracting people to live in the village as a priority.
“Nothing will grow without people,” Campbell said. She noted that everything economic hinges on people living here. She sees her second priority as attracting industry.
“I think there is opportunity for a small entrepreneur to get started here,” she said.
A third trustee seat opened up when Gary Nelson chose to not run again. Members of the community seeking a candidate for the seat resulted in two additional candidates for the board emerging.
Paul Nicholson, at 39 years old, would be the youngest member of the board if elected.
Like Campbell, he has lived in Soldiers Grove his entire life. He lives in his childhood home with his wife Jessie and their four-year-old son. His business is just a short walk away on the other side of the driveway. Nicholson Motors is the village’s oldest business at 68 years and Nicholson is the third generation to run it.
Nicholson has served on the board of the Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Soldiers Grove as president, vice-president, and secretary.
“I served as the president for a few years,” Nicholson said, “including during the remodeling project.”
A graduate of North Crawford High School, he attended South West Technical College’s auto body and collision program.
After completing it, Nicholson was called back as a substitute teacher.
“I was 19 years old and most of the students were older than I was,” Nicholson recalled. “It was a little intimidating.”
He served on SWTC’s Advisory Board in the 90s.
Asked what he would like to accomplish on the board, Nicholson noted an improvement in policies for responding to requests would be desirable.
“When someone comes in and asks for something, everyone should be handled the same way,” Nicholson said. “Sometimes you really have to make those decisions case by case, but the main thing is to make sure you treat everyone fairly.”
Nicholson feels the village is doing fairly well, though he noted times are tight for everyone, including the village.
With the village looking at aging equipment, he sees his area of expertise as timely.
“I think they are behind on their equipment and there will be more issues coming up,” Nicholson said. “You can wait too long, trying to be frugal, and end up spending more. With some of the purchases coming up, my automotive background should be helpful.”
“I’m no politician, I was hesitant to run,” Nicholson said. However, he noted this is not the first time he had considered running. This time, the phone calls from other residents in the village helped him make up his mind.
That was also the case for Jerry Moran, as it was others asking him to run that caused him to declare his candidacy. Moran is no stranger to running for office and public service as the former Crawford County Sheriff and former village trustee in Soldiers Grove.
“I was on the board prior to becoming sheriff, and resigned then because I didn’t want to be overcommitted and unable to meet my duties,” Moran said.
Born and raised in Rolling Ground, Moran, 63, has lived in Soldiers Grove for 43 years, and in the Solar Village development for the last 26 years. He has four grown daughters, two of which live in the village.
“My whole life I have been in public service,” Moran said. “I have been out of it for the last two years (since retiring as sheriff), so it’s time to get back to it.”
Moran worked for the village for 23 years prior attending Southwest Technical College’s officer recruitment program and subsequently joining the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department.
Moran has maintained his wastewater and water systems license, helping the village at different times as they dealt with water issues.
“We are in, as everyone is in, real tight budget times,” Moran said. “I think I have the knowledge to help the board as they continue to deal with that.
“I think the village is running well,” Moran continued. “I don’t have any agendas, I would just like to see the village continue to run smoothly.”
Incumbent village president Laurel Hestetune is also on the ballot for reelection. He runs unopposed.