Candidates: Door County Board, District 16

Randy Halstead

Halstead, 65, has two adult children. The Sevastopol High School graduate has taken a ship-fitting course at the technical school in Sturgeon Bay in addition to his work as a farmer and local board representative. 

Relevant Experience/Civic Engagement

I’m a former member of the Sevastopol School Board. I’ve also been on the Jacksonport Town Board for 11 years, the last five years as town chair. I’m currently serving on the Door County Board of Supervisors and have been for six years now.

Elizabeth Gauger

Gauger, 53, is serving her first term on the Egg Harbor Town Board and has been a part-time resident of the town since the mid-1970s and became a full-time resident three years ago. A UW-Milwaukee graduate with degrees in secondary education, history and political science, she also earned an M.A. from Cardinal Stritch University in learning disabilities.

“I hold five secondary Wisconsin teacher licenses in learning and emotional disabilities, alternative education, broad field social studies (political science and economics) and history,” she said. “I was awarded the CEC Team Collaboration Award in 2012, was a presenter at the Wisconsin State Transition Convention in 2010 and was a member of the Milwaukee County Transition Action Team Board for six years.”

Relevant Experience/Civic Engagement

 I have been a substitute teacher for three Door County school districts during the past three years. Prior to this, I served as a Milwaukee Public Schools special educator and employment training specialist for challenged urban adolescents. 

As a teacher with more than 20 years of experience in a variety of settings from urban to suburban to rural, I understand the diverse needs of communities and how to bring people together. My challenge is helping people understand the issues, listening to their concerns, involving them in the process and creating a workable solution that is a fair compromise to all the parties involved. 

I am running because I have found my first year as a Town of Egg Harbor supervisor to be a great match for my talents and skill set, and I want to involve myself even further in a wider scope of issues that affect Door County.

What attributes and skills do you bring to the county board?

Randy Halstead (RH): Being a farmer and on the Jacksonport Town Board I tend to be conservative when it comes to spending money! We had a building project in Jacksonport a year ago and brought it in under budget.

EG: I have a passion and drive for initiating creative problem-solving for promoting consensus among diverse viewpoints. I understand how to get things done; I seek practical solutions that will lead to future success. I am fiscally conservative and will attempt to find the most efficient way to bring the best results to benefit the majority of my constituents in the shortest amount of time.

I do not believe in reinventing the wheel or wasting time with things that have already been tried and failed. I find that what is most essential in elected office is good communication with constituents. To me, the most important quality of an elected official is to be a good listener and to use good common sense when making decisions.

I have been recently endorsed by Wisconsin Conservation Voters and am a member of the Bayshore Property Owners and the Door County Land Trust.

Do you believe the county is doing enough to ensure groundwater quality? If not, what more should the county be doing?

RH: I believe we have good rules and regulations in place; it now falls to the people to follow them. I know in the past couple of years it’s been a real challenge to do a good job with this due to the high levels of precipitation.

EG: I believe Door County most definitely faces challenges with drinking water. Our peninsula is made up of porous dolomite and therefore is particularly vulnerable to groundwater contamination from a variety of sources: nitrates, PFAS, CAFO, leaking septic systems, runoff and manure spreading.

On the county level, I would make sure that we are no longer using dangerous weed killers on our properties; oppose large, out-of-character developments such as the Quarry RV Village; and write and enforce good ordinances that maintain the highest standards for sanitation, as I recently did with our town’s camping ordinance. 

To address liquid-manure runoff, I would support advocating for more state Legislature funding and more staff to investigate, and mirror work being done in Kewaunee by increasing community communication, being proactive not reactive, pushing harder to monitor wells, and implementing real-time supervision of each farm.

Rural broadband internet access has been cited as a problem by residents and businesses throughout Door County. What should the county do to increase broadband access?

RH: Drop the broadband regulations from Chapter 14 of the Door County zoning code! This will make it so much easier to get the towers in place to expand internet coverage across Door County.

EG: I believe there is definitely an urgency to secure quality internet service to our county. I have been working on this issue on the town level for Egg Harbor, as have four other towns, to support grant applications for Door County Broadband (DCB) to build new towers. DCB will match funds pledged by the towns in hopes of getting $150,000 in federal matching grants. The grants are not a sure thing, but they are the best course of action for now. 

Towns can also offer land for towers. The county can help by easing its restrictive tower ordinances. The county needs to make this a priority because it’s definitely related to economic sustainability and becoming more like a standard utility such as electricity and water.

Affordable housing continues to be an issue in Door County. Should county government play a role in addressing the shortage of affordable rental units and homes for purchase, and if so, how?

RH: We have already moved some tax-delinquent properties over to the City of Sturgeon Bay and also moved some revolving loan money that we were going to lose if we didn’t use it to the city.

EG: First, the proper zoning must be in place. Then, developers must be as financially rewarded as by building higher-end projects. Therefore, I support Assembly Bill 544, which will create the needed incentives in the form of a $10 million pilot program that would provide tax credits to the developers of such housing. The result should aid entry-level employees in need of housing here in Door County as well as statewide. It was crafted with input from officials from the Door County Economic Development Corporation.

In addition to this, I also support possibly using foreclosed properties for affordable housing as Sturgeon Bay has done. We should consider taking a closer look at the Airbnb impact on affordable housing and possibly imposing tighter regulations if it’s a contributing factor.

What other issues do you hope to engage in as a member of the county board?

RH: I guess the biggest thing is the budget. With wages and benefits increasing and our levy going up only with net new construction, it’s going to be a challenge!

EG: The primary focus of my service will be finding a graceful and workable balance between economic and technological growth in our county while preserving our delicate and unique environment – which are the very reasons why it is cherished by locals and tourists alike. I do not want to see Door County become “Dells County”!

I believe I have the correct skill set, mindset, energy level and drive to be the most professional, dedicated and competent supervisor you deserve. I am ready to devote my time and talents to preserve Door County, and I am fully invested in wanting to make sure it remains the precious gem for future generations.