Washington Co., WI – Rebroadcast of Washington County Executive candidate forum at West Bend City Hall. Candidates included Adam Gitter and Joshua Schoemann. Their names will be on the ballot in the April 7 Spring Election.
Adam Gitter – Currently economic development manager. Served Army for 8 years as Military Police. Serve downtown West Bend Association. My vision for county is public safety, eliminating public parks fee and sharing sales tax with the cities.
Josh Schoemann – Voting is important. I love Washington County, I was born here, I’m raising my family here. This is home. Service to others and love your neighbor was instilled in me. I was going to be a high school teacher but was deployed to Kuwait.
Philosophy on county land development and preserving open land
JS – Delicate balance. WC is growing quite drastically. Cedar Creek farmers had a meeting and No. 1 priority was preserving farmland. Every development that happens leads to more prosperity. Either we’re going to manage development or it will manage us. Served on EDWC. We put a lot of time and effort into economic development. Recently we proposed a revolving loan fund so every development that happens on a site – the land can be utilized.
AG – Serving as economic development with city. Farmers are No. 1 resource. What’s right for Richfield, and the town and the city – no one is created equal. We work with boards and find out how county can be a resource.
How to market Washington County
AG – We lean into the great staff. I’ve leaned into MPTC and we should empower them to help fill our workforce gaps. Work with the Workforce Alliance.
JS – Maintain best quality of life in Wis. We have a safe community and we’re close to City of Milwaukee. We have access to phenomenal assets. People appreciate quality schools but county govt. doesn’t need to stick its nose into schools. We need to stay focused on roads, safety, senior services.
Key to developing a good team?
JS – I’ve been an admin for 13 years and led a number of different organizations – leadership is a tricky thing but it starts with credibility. You establish credibility by doing what you say you’ll do. When people have a shared vision – that’s when success starts.
AG – In the Army I was a team leader. Communication is key so people can perform the best and get the job done. My leadership philosophy is trust, communication and leadership.
Do you favor sending county sales tax to the city?
AG – Yes, there is $12.3 million coming in in sales tax and the county has to get off this and, in the meantime, share 25% with the municipalities. This is new money coming in and right now county is using sales tax as a slush fund. We’re going to have a plan in place so cities can use that money for roads. IF we can help municipalities speed up road repair, we will do it.
JS – The $5 million was reduced in property taxes. It’s property tax reform. Wis. Institute for Law and Liberty filed a suit against two counties that created sales tax. State law required to reduce property taxes.
Plans to upgrade the Samaritan home
JS – Highest priority is public safety but not just law enforcement. So is mental health and senior care. Alzheimer’s story of person with no assets. This is why nursing homes exist at county level. We need to take a serious look at this. History lesson and the poor farm. We need to have an honest discussion on what the role of the county is. This is a public safety issue.
AG – Growing up in Kewaskum we played night games and one game was kick the can. Samaritan isn’t something that’s going away. Right now, county is doing a study and that’s where the plan will come in. Right now, $5 million in debt. Mental health is a big issue – why are we putting up a barrier with the park fee, and we put up a barrier to that.
Would you eliminate park fees or eliminate county parks?
AG – Won’t eliminate any of the current county parks. Will eliminate fee. It’s great when you can run government like a business. Our govt. should provide parks for the community. We’re making $107 million on park fee. We shouldn’t be passing parks burden onto municipalities. We want this to be a desirable place to live work and play.
JS – Funding mechanism for local govt. in Wisconsin is broken. Making decisions and leading is a tough thing. It’s a matter of priorities. We hear people are tired of property taxes going up. Mental illness comment. Our money will go to safety and then we will talk about parks.
If elected what is the first issue you will be addressing
JS – future of Samaritan Home will be my top issue. Pull in people from Washington County to help make the decision. Questions if Medicaid will be funded in the coming years.
AG – first issue is to eliminate parks fee. Wis. Institute Law and Liberty and the lawsuit on sales tax it’s a frivolous lawsuit. The sales tax is your money and as I watched what mayor Sadownikow did and “we stand up for what we believe in” .. he didn’t back down from Dark Store Theory.
County Roads and Hwy 45 deteriorated – how will you fix the problems.
AG – we won’t push the roads off onto the towns. Won’t give them a stack of cash – we will work with everyone to fix the roads it will be our responsibility.
JS – county maintains state highways but we’re not responsible for resurfacing. Local govt’s complain about roads. In Washington Co. we built a plan – credit to Scott Schmidt and how much money would it take to fix roads and we funded it 100%. We borrowed to reconstruct and we did it without raising taxes. We do the small stuff well.
New co exec is elected position and how does this change improve/hurt county residents
JS – Strengths and weaknesses – as county executive, you hear firsthand what expectations are. At state of the county address – what’s been lost is people aren’t engaged in the discussion. Focus will be on the people.
AG – Biggest strength is you’re working for the people. Job of an elected official is to ask what the people want. Kewaskum had an advisory referendum and you had county supervisors show up and get them to stop the discussion. As an elected official you shouldn’t be stifling village voice. We do care what you have to say.
AG – when go to the polls April 7 my name is at top of ballot. I’m taking the values my father taught me and bringing it to this position.
JS – I will create an environment so county government will get out of your way. We will do the small stuff extremely well.
The Spring Election is Tuesday, April 7. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
In-person absentee voting begins in the City of West Bend runs through Friday, April 3 at 5 p.m.
Click HERE for more information with regard to what’s on your ballot and your polling place.
The West Bend Mayoral race will be on the April 7 ballot in the City of West Bend. Rich Kasten will be listed first followed by Chris Jenkins. Voters are asked to cast one vote in this non-partisan race.
Click HERE to read about aldermanic races in the City of Hartford.