2023 Primary Election Races: Gardner and Gibraltar

Feb. 21 is the primary, April 4 the general election

There are primary elections in four Door County municipalities this year. Last week, we published the bios and reasons for running for the candidates in two of those municipalities: the Town of Nasewaupee and the Village of Sister Bay. This week, we bring you the primary contests in the towns of Gardner and Gibraltar.

Following the Feb. 21 primary, we will forward questionnaires to all candidates who are in contested races. There are 11 contested races this year within eight municipalities: Baileys Harbor, Forestville (town), Gardner, Gibraltar, Liberty Grove, Nasewaupee, Sister Bay and Washington. If you have suggested questions for us to consider for the questionnaires for the candidates in your town, please forward those to [email protected] by Friday, March 3.

Town of Gardner

Three seats are up for election on the five-member Gardner Town Board, and all three have a race. One of those – the Supervisor 2 seat – drew two candidates to challenge the incumbent, triggering the need for a primary election. The top two vote-getters will advance to the April 4 ballot. Mike Marchant, a third candidate, did not respond to the Peninsula Pulse’s request to participate in the questionnaire.

Mark Lentz. Submitted.

Mark Lentz, 67, incumbent Supervisor 2, is a retired municipal public-works director. He has a B.S. in civil engineering from Michigan Technological University. He and wife, Connie, have no children.

Why are you running? I am running for a second term as Town Supervisor 2. Additionally, I have chaired the Town Plan Commission for six years. I enjoy using my professional local-government experience to help guide the town and assist its residents. During my time serving the town, I have administered contract bids and specifications, helped write ordinances and coordinated the update to the 20-year Comprehensive Plan.

Gary Schaeffer. Submitted.

Gary Schaeffer, 72, is retired. He has 11 years of high school and firefighter training. He’s married to Cecilia, and they have one adult child. 

Why are you running? They want to see change, and I was asked to run for the board again. When I was on the board in the early 2000s for 10 years, we did accomplish quite a few things in the town. We’re here for what the people want, not what the supervisors want. So I’m giving it a try again.

Town of Gibraltar

Five people are running for two supervisor seats, triggering the need for a primary to eliminate one of the five. The race contains three newcomers and two incumbents. 

One of the incumbents, Karl Stubenvoll, has been on the town board in the past, but for his current term, the town supervisors appointed him to the seat in October 2022 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former board member Tim Luettgen. Stubenvoll was among the six candidates who had vied for that appointment. (Only half of those six are officially running for the seat: Stubenvoll, plus Tom Birmingham and John Selenica.)

Thomas M. Birmingham. Submitted.

Thomas M. Birmingham, 71, is the owner of Great Northern Construction. He has three years of college at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, is married to Linda and has three adult children.

Why are you running? Having lived here all my life and witnessed how it’s changed, I’m alarmed by initiatives the board has taken, the direction they’re headed and their side-stepping of the state revenue limit with a fee. It’s time for change, and I can lead. If elected, I will work to stop the Traffic Utility Fee and further fee funding of common services, curtail growth of town government, effect downtown municipal improvement without impervious surface increase, and preserve rural character.

Vinni Chomeau. Submitted.

Vinni Chomeau, 46, is the Friends of Gibraltar project coordinator. She has a B.S. in environmental-experiential education from Northland College, an M.S. in environmental science and policy from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and an environmental education certification from Hamline University. She is married to Jay Chomeau and has one child. 

Why are you running? I am running for local office to find creative solutions that enhance the aesthetics and unique character of the town while promoting environmental health, success of local businesses and quality of life for residents. I would like to apply the experience I have gained from town-level planning, from being on the Door County Board of Supervisors and from having served on various county committees, including the Door County Resource Planning Committee that deals with zoning. I am also interested in saving some trees in town.

Brian Merkel, incumbent, is the owner of Nor Door Sport and Cyclery. He is married to Melissa Merkel and has one son. He did not respond to requests to tell us his age or about his education or to send a photo. 

Why are you running? Reason to rerun is to continue the smart growth of our township while maintaining and improving the quality of life here while keeping the inviting, small-town charm that our community is known for.

John Selenica. Submitted.

John Selenica, 60, is retired. He has a B.S. in technical management from DeVry University. He is married to Jody Selenica, and they have one child living at home. 

Why are you running? I am invested in Gibraltar and would like to contribute my experience in growing it into a vibrant community. I have 35 years’ experience in the public utilities and have assisted municipalities with public-improvement projects. I volunteer at Door Community Auditorium, Northern Sky Theater and Gibraltar Fire & Rescue. I feel I could be a strong and diverse advocate for the community, given my current commitment to Gibraltar and my prior experience with municipal infrastructure.

Karl Stubenvoll. Submitted.

Karl Stubenvoll, 69, incumbent, owns Gallery of Gold. He has a B.S. in geological engineering and a B.S. in civil engineering, both from Michigan Tech. He is married to Nancy Stubenvoll, and they have two adult children. 

Why are you running? I am happy to be a resident of Gibraltar and am proud to be able to serve the town. In addition to previous terms on the town board, I have led the building committee as chairman since it was reestablished several years ago. Our job has been to monitor all of the buildings owned by the town in order to keep up with any maintenance issues. I have also served on the board and as president of the Fish Creek Civic Association (now Visit Fish Creek) and have been very active in volunteering for Fish Creek’s Winterfest and previous events.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidates

In addition to the primary elections for four local municipalities, the Feb. 21 primary election includes the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court justice for all Door County voters. Shown (clockwise from top left) are the candidates: Dane County Circuit Court Judge Everett Mitchell, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dorow, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly and Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz.

To read about each of these candidates, go to “Meet the Candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice” at All photos submitted.