Candidate Q&A: Gibraltar Town Board

Brian Hackbarth

Brian Hackbarth Picture

Why do you want to serve on the town board?

I want to contribute my skills, and time to the overall betterment of our community. As a community leader at the age of 38 I am constantly growing, learning and improving every day that goes by. Constantly striving to be a better leader, a better member of the community and a better Town Board member. Constantly asking residents what I can do better, reading book after book. My desire is to do the best job I can for our community.

What experience or skills will you bring to the position?

I have been in a wide variety of leadership rolls throughout my life, going all the way back to 5th grade. I am very strong in the management of government finances, which is a very important part of what the town board does. Below is a partial list of relevant skills I bring to the position. I have left off my nonprofit boards & work.

*College Hall council

*College Student Senate

*Attendance at almost all Monthly Town Board Meetings from 2000 to 2010 (Also when school was not in session during 1998 & 1999)

*Winter Games Committee 2000 to 2004 (Chair of the 2004 Winter Games)

*Fish Creek Civic Association Board 2002 to 2004 (Board President 2004)

*Founder and Chairman of the 2004 4th of July Fish Creek Fireworks & Fest.  (Served for 7 years as Chair, and now the past 6 as the Vice Chair)

*Gibraltar Parks & Lands Committee Member 2006-2008

*Gibraltar Parks & Lands Committee Chair 2008 to Current

*Bike & Pedestrian Plan Steering Committee 2009

*Gibraltar Planning Commission 2009 to Current

*Gibraltar Town Board Supervisor April 2010 to Current. (Perfect Attendance Record.)

*I Authored & Proposed, the Town of Gibraltar Debt Management Policy (Which is one of the few in the state of Wisconsin and arguably the most comprehensive in the State)

What do you believe to be the biggest issue facing the town?

Infrastructure planning, implantation, and financing of the infrastructure. We are in a period of growth as a community with the timing of many things all landing now. The State Highway Project, Waterfront Planning & Implementation, Protection of the watershed & rehabilitation of the Fish Creek-Creek, the significant amount of Paving of Town Roads that is needed.

The one thing that will limit what the town can accomplish is “Money”. With Brian Hackbarth on the town board, the taxes will be kept significantly lower while accomplishing what needs to get done. I mean no offense to my fellow board members or other candidates, but do I worry that without my financial leadership on the board our Taxes Will Increase dramatically over the next 5 years, while potentially not accomplishing all that should be done due to finances. The expertise I bring in finance is invaluable to the board and the community at a time like this.

There has been talk of Fish Creek incorporating as a village. What are your thoughts on that idea?

I can say as a current member of the Gibraltar Town Board there has been “NO” discussions or talk of incorporating as a village. Your News Paper has very bad information and in the future I would encourage you Fact Check / Verify your candidate questions before posing them.

There is NO way that Fish Creek will be incorporating anytime within the next decade. For that matter I do NOT foresee that happening anytime in the next 50 years. There is NO upside for anyone, and there is NO one that I know of who has said such a thing since the mid 1990’s.

Splitting our community in two, would weaken all of us. It would triple the taxes in Fish Creek, and double the taxes out in what would be the Township. We already struggle to fill committee/commission positions, if split into two governments there would need to be double the people to fill all of the rolls.

All residences and business’s would be much worse off if Gibraltar were split in two. Taxes, Roads, Maintenance, Plowing, Fire Department, First Responders, Police, Governance, Government Office Services, ect. And many more negatives. In fact the negatives of a split, would spill over into our neighboring Northern Door communities effecting them negatively as well.

So we will keep our community together as ONE, build and strengthen it. If anyone would like to have a detailed conversation about this subject, please feel free to contact me. My contact information is available on the town website.

The town already has a few big-ticket items waiting in the wings, such as the waterfront redevelopment project and the planned highway resurfacing. How would you like to see resources dovetail on those two projects?

First off the Town is “NOT Redeveloping the Waterfront”.

The Town has engaged a Firm Specializing in planning “SEH” to work with the community and the Town board to develop a plan which I will quote straight from the first draft “Plan is to identify enhancements to all of Fish Creek’s waterfront areas with a focus on the Town Dock, boat launches, and Town Beach.”

The Key word being “Enhancements”, we asked the community what they wanted and the community spoke loud and clear. To the best of my knowledge the Community, the Steering Committee, and the Current Town Board do NOT want to redevelop the water front. We want to preserve the character, charm, and historic nature of our waterfront community. We are working with professional planners to find solutions to problems along the waterfront, and ways to “Enhance” our water front while maintaining its current character.

To the question of dovetailing the two. The Highway reconstruction and any potential enhancements that come out of the waterfront planning process will be unrelated in regards to implementation. At this time it doesn’t look like there will be any work that would overlap. In regards to the financing, there will most likely NOT be any connection there either. The town board will need to remain compliant with the towns debt management policy which I authored, and will help guide the town to financing its needs in a responsible manner. One that keeps taxes low & stable over time, the towns budget and finances sound, all while achieving the results of any projects the board sets out to accomplish. Please contact me directly if you wish to have an in depth explanation of any of this.

Any thoughts on how to fix the seasonal problem of too many cars for too few parking spots in the town?

Good Leadership Period.

The town has hired a professional planning firm (which I was the voice on the board fighting to hire SHE instead of Bob Kufrin- and I won with a 3-2 split vote to Hire SHE instead) to work with the community to develop a Water Front Master Plan, and a Highway Reconstruction Plan. A key element of both plans is to address the parking needs in Fish Creek. Many ideas have been put on the table, and much thought, discussion and listening now needs to be done.

Patients is Prudent, after the plan is complete, I will do much listening of members of the community. Have many discussions with residents & property owners, discuss and debate with the town board members the recommendations. Listen and consider the position of each member of the board. Then I will decide my position on the parking question.

Bill Johnson



Why do you want to serve on the town board?

I offer a different skill set than what I have observed from the current board members. I believe my skills could help the board move forward with less conflict.


What experience or skills will you bring to the position?

I have served on a number of boards, currently on the Fish Creek Sanitary district for the past 15 years.

Experience: office managing in a large corporation, including budgeting, auditing, compliance, desktop training, organization reorganization, customer service training, teamwork building, etc. Goal setting including measurement check points. Run my own IT business. President of one condominium association with 38 units, and a VP on a 1600-unit association. Understand and worked through major complex conflicts including legal issues and rules and regulation changes. Certified quality process trainer while concurrently managing an office of 85 employees covering a two state area. Administrator of operations in a seven state area with 225 employees. President, secretary and board member of the Okauchee Lions Club, the fastest growing club in the World during my presidency. I use a collaborative management style which recognizes the skill levels of all members and work to achieve objectives and solve process issues. I listen. I use conflict resolution.

What do you believe to be the biggest issue facing the town?

Planning for the future given growth, aging population, traffic (both vehicle and pedestrian) parking and keeping the town a safe and desirable place to live and visit. At present, the aging fire department, police department and our Town staff, are the most immediate. Co-operation between the Town and adjacent villages is one possible direction. Attempts to resolve differences is a road block to sharing resources and maintaining the safety services. The airport issue with the Village of Ephraim needs a solution as well. Many past issues cloud the vision into the future. A different approach would most likely be helpful. Sometimes best to move along. Then look at the long-term plan. The town beach is often overcrowded, a great place for local visitors to visit and enjoy the view at little expense and combine that with parking issues causing access problems as well. Parking, parking, parking. Currently there is a planning process in place to look at the long term.


There has been talk of Fish Creek incorporating as a village. What are your thoughts on that idea?

Incorporation is a great idea, but many complications as how to get there exist. From experience, as a part of an attempt to incorporate Okauchee, an unincorporated village in the Town of Oconomowoc, the lesson and experience would be helpful. Not an easy or pleasing path for all.

When you drive about the Town, looking at all the fabulous properties, looking at the taxes, one must wonder what incorporation would do. If you live in an anticipated incorporated area, what would one see for the tax issues? Incorporation may work best in a compact, well defined village not one spread out like ours. Our taxes are better than any other place in the County. Just my opinion.

The town already has a few big-ticket items waiting in the wings, such as the waterfront redevelopment project and the planned highway resurfacing. How would you like to see resources dovetail on those two projects?

They really do not dovetail very well. Both are independent projects, except for a needed walkway up to the school. The resurface and repair of 42 is long overdue. The storm drain issue, the walking path, bicycle safety, these are all in the works. Obviously the walking path is a big issue in my opinion. The Town board needs to be vigilant here with the state planners.

Any thoughts on how to fix the seasonal problem of too many cars for too few parking spots in the town?

There is currently a study being conducted to give engineering and architectural expertise to help resolve. Parking can be mitigated, probably not resolved. Business employees need parking but they also take spaces. Most business owners understand this and do the best they can to mitigate through self-interest. Perhaps some new ideas might help. I think in addition to the study, creativity could resolve more of the issue. There is space behind the village. Redefining how that area is used may present some helpful solutions. Repainting some of the street could also add more. Park spaces are inconsistent. Let’s look and listen to our local business owners, they may have ideas. One already does a business shuttle to the business at no charge.

Another big issue is summer traffic downtown. It makes it difficult for locals, businesses and visitors traffic to navigate. This needs to be addressed as well. How about a part time traffic director? Traffic lights (those are expensive).

And let’s not forget the need for road repair and common sense when it comes to regulations in the Township. Some of the ordinances need to be updated and the County needs to do its part as well. This may be where the idea of incorporation will remove the county from the picture. This remains an issue. If I win a position, I will listen, and work to resolve these and the other issues facing the issue.


Barb McKesson

Barb McKesson

Bio: My name is Barb (Kinsey) McKesson and I live in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. For those of you who do not know me, I am the third daughter of four children born to Roy and Virginia Kinsey whose family began here six generations ago. I grew up like any “kid” in Fish Creek . . . playing along the shoreline, swimming at the beach or having picnics in the park. I attended the two room grade school, and then graduated from Gibraltar High School. My parents had acquired the “Summertime” a year after they were married, so as I grew up I spent many hours scooping ice cream and wrapping gifts. We also had three cottages behind our home and my parents began renting them. (Today, I am part owner and I manage “Holiday Harbor Cottages and Marina”). Needless to say, I grew up working in the family businesses, and I understood how important it was (and still is) to have summer visitors come to Fish Creek.

In 1966 I attended school in Milwaukee, received a degree in education, a Masters in Special Ed., completed more post graduate work at Stanford, and along the way married and raised two daughters.   My educational career started in 1972, and since that time, my family and I returned every summer to help out with the cottages . . . and we enjoyed Roy and Virginia’s backyard. As my girls grew up, they too, found jobs and spent their summers in Fish Creek.

I retired from teaching and returned HOME eight years ago. To be honest, Fish Creek always has been home. I love the rhythm of the seasons and the smell of the earth. I know when to go hunting for mushrooms and where to find wild asparagus. I feel the excitement of the cottage guests and the quiet of the evenings. And . . . I love the water!

I have spent a lot of time thinking, studying and appreciating Fish Creek and the countryside. I love its history and its people. My goal in running for office is to help maintain the relationship that exists between man, the water and the land . . to maintain the balance! Why?  Because this balance not only makes our town a special place to live but also serves as a powerful draw for visitors. It’s vital to our quality of life AND our town’s economic well-being.

Why do you want to serve on the town board?

Having a deep love for the community and its history, upon my retirement I immediately became involved in the Gibraltar Historical Association (GHA) and town government. GHA took a lot of time and along with running the family business, I was plenty busy. But this year, with the waterfront redevelopment at hand, it seemed the right time to become involved. I am concerned that we don’t change Fish Creek for the sake of change, but that we think carefully about what we want 10-15 years from now and beyond. We have been cited in Midwest Living and Forbes Magazine as one of the best small towns in America. I agree with those folks, so, I am running for a supervisor position on the Gibraltar Town Board to help maintain the unique, prosperous, tourist community of Fish Creek and the green fields and forests of the township.

What experience or skills will you bring to the position?

I worked in the field of education for 36 years, and I served in a variety of positions, in three different school systems. I worked with numerous people with a variety of backgrounds. I held administrative duties as well as teaching responsibilities. I am respectful of people and their ideas and have a reputation for working collaboratively and constructively. I am both a listener and a planner. I am fiscally responsible having held positions dealing with budgets and running a successful business. I understand what it takes to make a living in 16 weeks. I am involved in the community and am dedicated to preserving our rich history and heritage.

What do you believe to be the biggest issues facing the town?

Like any of the towns and villages on the peninsula, I think Gibraltar has a list of issues that need addressing. In addition to the potential redesign of Fish Creek, one of the most pressing I feel, is our volunteer fire department. It has served us well over the years but I believe it may be time to plan for the future, looking at ways to re-envision the existing services. It is as much a “northern door” issue as it is a Gibraltar issue. Another concern Gibraltar needs to begin to grapple with is affordable housing. Our demographics are changing, and we need to address what those changes mean.

There has been talk of Fish Creek incorporating as a village. What are your thoughts on that idea?

I have heard this idea resurface numerous times. Being one of the very few that live in downtown Fish Creek, I am not sure it would be a positive move. Moreover, I think that the town and township complement one another, and we should be fostering a positive relationship between Fish Creek business owners and the rural community. I think by working together, we can maintain the charm and identity of our beautiful town and our pastoral township. It is kind of like a dance. Controlling costs and avoiding initiatives that unduly burden taxpayers “dances with” maintaining and improving what is necessary for the town to drive the economy. I think the best way to say it is to be good stewards of both the town and township.

The town already has a few big-ticket items waiting in the wings, such as the waterfront development project and the planned highway resurfacing. How would you like to see resources dovetail on those two projects?

Gibraltar has already been hard at work looking at the plans that may overlap between the consulting firm SEH and the Department of Transportation. For example, one issue at our public beach is surface water draining from the highway onto the beach. Working with both parties simultaneously allows for creative ways to handle funding through grant application and negotiating responsibilities for solution.

Any thoughts on how to fix the seasonal problem of too many cars for too few parking spots in the town?

Parking and traffic in Fish Creek has always been a concern. Unlike surrounding towns, our back is to the bluff, and our face to the bay. There are two hills on either end and no “back street” exists to alleviate the crush. I think there are a variety of feasible solutions that don’t involve cutting trees to simply add individual parking spaces. This practice destroys the charm and beauty of the village, the atmosphere that draws visitors in the first place.

The SEH plan includes some diagonal parking on selected side streets.  This inexpensive “trial” may relieve some of our parking issues. Another practice, noted when I have visited other small communities that have parking problems, is their use of existing lots. Lots typically not in use during the week (for example church and school lots) are serviced by a trolley or an electric vehicle which delivers guests to the center of the village and back. Perhaps the school parking lot could relieve some of the downtown parking. Just thoughts, but we have to begin to consider new alternatives.

Karl Stubenvoll


Bio: Green Bay Southwest HS Class of 1972, Bachelor of Science Geological Engineering Michigan Tech 1976, Bachelor of Science Civil Engineering Michigan Tech 1977, Graduate studies Civil Engineering Michigan Tech, Self employed in the same business since 1980, Gallery of Gold

Why do you want to serve on the town board?

I have lived and developed my business in Gibraltar for the last 19 years, and am proud to give back to this community.  My volunteering included school committees and work projects at Gibraltar Area Schools, two terms on the Visitor Bureau Board of Directors as Door County transitioned to a room tax, and as a board member and president of the Fish Creek Civic Association.  When a board seat opened after Merrill Runquist’s passing, Dick Skare asked if I would consider offering my candidacy, and after mulling over the idea, I decided to accept the challenge.  I care about this community, and have enjoyed serving it as Township Supervisor for the past five years.

What experience or skills will you bring to the position?

My formal education earned me two engineering degrees from Michigan Tech, but my artistic side pushed me into starting my own business as a goldsmith.  36 years of running that same business have helped me develop a conservative approach to managing my finances.   Debt is necessary for long term major outlays, but the interest rates of the 1980’s taught me to be wary of high debt levels.

My engineering training has served me well as chairman of our building committee.  We have tackled many maintenance issues to keep our Township buildings and facilities in good order, and have been working hard to plan the Township’s new Maintenance Building.  Or recommendation to switch to LED lighting wherever prudent has saved the Township substantially on its power bills.

Serving on the board is a never ending learning experience, and it takes a while to understand some of the legal requirements we must follow to perform our duties.  Online training and many informational meetings offered by the county and other groups added to my preparation.

What do you believe to be the biggest issues facing the town?

The biggest issue on the horizon for me is the upcoming highway resurfacing project on Highway 42.  As a board, we pushed for sidewalks on both sides of the hill just south of the school and a reconstruction of the road to more properly address visibility, a safe school crossing, and storm water control.  Dealing with this drainage and its effects on the creek, beach and harbor goes beyond the scope of this interview.  Since we have had no fatalities with children crossing Highway 42 at the school, the State DOT didn’t even have plans for a simple crossing in their original resurfacing proposal.

There has been talk of Fish Creek incorporating as a village. What are your thoughts on that idea?

Tourism brings considerable revenue to our region, and it drives the large tax base Fish Creek provides as well as the bulk of the Township’s room tax revenue.  If Fish Creek would incorporate as a village, the consequences for the greater Township would be major.  As a board, we have devoted substantial funds to rebuild our Township roads on a roughly 20 year cycle.  A split Township, after paying for brushing and snowplowing, would be hard pressed to maintain its roads to the degree we are currently achieving.

The town already has a few big-ticket items waiting in the wings, such as the waterfront development project and the planned highway resurfacing. How would you like to see resources dovetail on those two projects?

Storm water handling and parking issues are being discussed with both projects.  We contracted with the engineering firm SEH to help with planning with regard to both projects, and that work is ongoing.

Any thoughts on how to fix the seasonal problem of too many cars for too few parking spots in the town?

SEH has made some important suggestions for changing some traffic flow near Clark Park to address boat launching congestion and better utilize parking density that could add 50 parking spaces in Fish Creek’s core area, along with better spacing on Highway 42 for another 20 spots.  Additional vehicle parking behind the Town Center is also in planning.  These changes can definitely help improve our parking situation.

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