Candidates: Door County Board, District 7

Erin Tauscher

Tauscher earned her bachelor of arts in Spanish studies from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and her master’s in occupational therapy at UW-Madison.

Relevant Experience/ Civic Engagement

Community-level committee work requiring teamwork, leadership, negotiation and decision-making skills: Health and Wellness Support Group for people with Parkinson’s Disease at the Northern Door YMCA; Patient Education Committee, which earned an Excellence in Teamwork Award. 

Business owner who provides mind-body wellness services to community members of all ages and abilities: involves business-plan and budget development, tracking and reviewing financial information, staying informed about community needs and industry practices, and engaging in client relations and community outreach; working in conjunction with ADRC to provide monthly services.

Helen Bacon

Bacon, 74, is the mother of three adult children and a retired registered nurse. Her educational background includes courses at Beloit, UW–Madison, UW– Green Bay, and NWTC. 

Relevant Experience/ Civic Engagement:

Current Door County Board Supervisor and Sturgeon Bay Common Council member. Home Health Supervisor, serving on boards and volunteering.

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

Erin Tauscher (ET): Being an occupational therapist for more than 10 years has taught me to listen deeply, collect relevant information in a short amount of time and make recommendations for the best possible outcomes. Some of my best attributes are that I’m present, compassionate and determined. 

I originally moved to the county to help a friend start a small business. This gave me direct insight into the challenges and opportunities surrounding finding housing and securing seasonal and year-round employment. The process of integrating into our community also included starting my own small business. The county board can benefit from the perspective of someone who is currently in the workforce. I also hear the needs of my peers, who are struggling to secure accessible child care. 

Helen Bacon (HB): Common sense and looking at decisions in a fiscally responsible manner. This doesn’t mean not spending money, but looking at the projects from a fiscal viewpoint. 

My background brings experience and knowledge of health and social issues and advocacy for the elderly and those with mental-health and substance-use challenges. I studied to be an artist, and I find that experience useful in making decisions about our buildings, including remodeling and maintaining our existing buildings. I also love working to maintain and promote our parks – one of Door County’s treasures.

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

ET: The county is doing what has been expected of it in terms of water quality. Door County’s unique karst topography must be taken into account when dealing with groundwater-quality issues; it is very susceptible to groundwater contamination, which impacts our drinking water. A one-size-fits-all regulation model across the state does not adequately serve us. 

The state and county can be doing more, especially in terms of regulations for manure spreading, zoning for high-capacity wells and basements, and research/project development in conjunction with our hardworking conservation office. Thoughtful consideration of the developments that occur in vital watershed areas should be a priority. Once pollution occurs, it can be very difficult and costly, if not impossible, to clean up.  

HB: There will always be a need for continued work on groundwater and to ensure the safety of the water that surrounds our county. Public Health, Soil and Water, and UW-Oshkosh have recently teamed up to do a study of well water in Door County. The first round of tests were done last fall, and this spring, there will be additional testing, including on Washington Island. 

The high water and saturated ground also bring additional challenges in working with farmers and those concerned with manure spreading and agricultural runoff. There are no easy answers to the problems we face, and I support working with all parties to come up with solutions that move us forward.

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?

ET: I believe the county should do whatever it can to help improve broadband access. It is so important for the vitality of our community to have basic technological infrastructure to stay current in our modern world. 

The county fully acknowledges that reliable, high-speed internet is necessary for the success of our businesses, students and community. County administrators and board supervisors serve a pivotal role in clearing the way for expansion by updating zoning and county ordinances. This year, the state has increased the funding available to both private companies and public entities, and I support actively pursuing these opportunities. 

HB: Broadband is an excellent example of cooperation among county and local governments, businesses and the Door County Economic Development Corporation. The recent school shutdowns highlight the need for dependable access for all. Remote learning can happen only when all students have access. Talks are progressing, and the county and towns are working to locate towers most effectively. I am proud of the leadership that the county provides to solve problems that affect citizens, visitors and businesses.

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?

ET: Yes, all stakeholders must play a role in addressing the shortage of affordable rental units and homes for purchase. Some of the deeper issues around housing include the seasonality and lack of consistent year-round benefits for workers, the proliferation of Airbnb/Vrbo, and current regulations for accessory dwelling units. 

I support reassessing our zoning and regulations.The county’s role is to connect with state legislators, advocate for our needs and open up zoning to allow for improved year-round infrastructure. I support state-budget allocations for rural communities such as Door County to build affordable housing. I will contact state representatives when appropriate, advocate at Legislative Days, participate in meetings and events, and continue to collaborate with community members on this issue.

HB: Recently we have had excellent cooperation between the city and county to provide funding for the West Side School workforce apartments in Sturgeon Bay. We have also cooperated with the city to provide lots for Habitat for Humanity and other nonprofit developers. The new Door County Housing Partnership will provide low-income housing opportunities. 

Northern Door is in need of seasonal-worker and workforce housing. The Door County Economic Development Corporation has assessed the housing needs across all areas of the county and will continue to help to solve these problems. Door County is actively involved in all of these programs and has the support of the County Board of Supervisors as well as administration.

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

ET: My experience and long-standing interest in health care would allow me to directly support health services and solutions. My professional skills are aligned to significantly contribute to ADRC and Human Services. 

As a nature lover, I am also interested in the Parks and Facilities Committee. I spend as much time as I can outside, no matter the season. We have so many incredible parks and natural areas, and they are one of the main reasons I chose to make this community my home. I would be honored to earn your vote on April 7. Thank you! 

HB: I chair the Health and Human Services board, and we continue to work on providing in-county services to youth and those with mental-health and substance-use issues. Currently many of our citizens are served out of the county, often at a distance, which is difficult not only for the client but also for family members. 

With the increase in drug use, we struggle to staff certain areas that are crucial for children and their families. Staffing is also an issue that we face at the ADRC/Community Center. The increase in attendance has been incredible, but we have not added any new staff. 

Last, but not least, our Public Health Department is taking a lead along with the local hospital and clinics to prepare for the COVID-19 crisis. We need to keep all of them in our thoughts and prayers, listen carefully, and do what we can to protect the health of our county.