Candidates: Liberty Grove Town Supervisor
Three candidates for two positions
Janet Johnson, 67, spent 20 years working as the Town of Liberty Grove treasurer and clerk until retiring in 2019. She attended one year at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, plus continuing-education classes; and she raised her children in Door County.
Matt Stone, 28, has a bachelor’s degree in communication from UW-Madison and works as a real estate agent for Shorewest Realty. He lives in Liberty Grove with his son, Archer.
Lou Covotsos, 71, has served on the Liberty Grove Town Board since 2013. He earned his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in U.S. history and holds an additional M.A. in library science. He lives in Liberty Grove with his wife and has four adult children.
Relevant Experience/ Civic Engagement
Janet Johnson (JJ): With my work experience, I have an understanding of how town government runs and a background in the ongoing issues of the town.
Matt Stone (MS): As a former member of the Door County service industry, I’ve been able to get to know our community. What I lack in experience I will make up for with hard work and enthusiasm for the position.
Lou Covotsos (LC): I’ve served as a town board supervisor since 2013.
What attributes and skills do you bring to the town board?
JJ: With my work experience, I have an understanding of how town government runs and a background in the ongoing issues of the town.
MS: I am a people person – ask any of my clients in real estate. I care about this community, and my perspective as a young father will be a much-needed shift for our town.
LC: An attitude of conciliation and compromise, and a deep respect for my position as a custodian of the taxpayer funds and our resources.
Affordable housing continues to be an issue in Door County. What options should the town pursue, if any, to encourage or facilitate the development of affordable rental units and homes for purchase?
JJ: I think some of the solution lies in zoning changes. There is land that could be used for multiple-dwelling developments of no more than six units that could be rented to year-round workers only. We could also reduce the minimum square footage of homes to incorporate building “tiny homes,” helping to keep the costs down. It isn’t just seasonal workers who can’t find a place they can afford. If we want to see workers stay in the area, we have to make it affordable for them to do so.
MS: The memorandum with the DCEDC last year was a good start. The solution will need to be a collaborative effort that cannot be rushed just to say we did something. I do not have a solution right now, but I would love to work with the community and board members to find one that works for us all.
LC: Continue what we have already done in purchasing property for such housing and work to develop it into attainable housing stock.
Rural broadband internet access has been cited as a problem by residents and businesses throughout Door County. What should the town do to increase broadband access?
JJ: Our current Tech Committee continues to look at ways to get better connections. I think this should include looking at properties for the town to purchase in critical areas for tower installations. People need to understand that the future value of their property will only benefit with good internet service.
MS: I recently read a survey that stated that one-fifth of Gibraltar students have trouble accessing learning tools at home. This is unacceptable in today’s educational environment. No one wants more cell towers, and we need to educate our community about the types of towers that need to be installed to make broadband more accessible. It should be possible to have our cake and eat it, too.
LC: Support businesses such as Door County Broadband, the only enterprise that has invested in our community. Continue to seek grants.
The town purchased shorefront property in Gills Rock in 2018. What do you think the town should do with that property?
JJ: A questionnaire was sent to every taxpayer in the town, with options outlined as well as a space for comments. I believe the voices of those who answered the questionnaire should be heard.
MS: The people summed it up best in the survey taken last year: silent-sports access; the preservation of our fishing, maritime and Native American history through artwork and displays; a safe harbor; and green space. This needs to be our statement of how we want Door County’s future to look.
LC: The public already answered that question: Keep the land for public use compatible with the town’s rural character.
What other issues do you think should be priorities for the town in the near future?
JJ: Liberty Grove needs to invite more small businesses into the area. I believe this can be done without the major visual impact the Village of Sister Bay is experiencing. I also feel that our school system should be investing in education in the trades. We live in a retirement and resort area. There are not enough electricians, plumbers and builders to keep up with the needs of the population.
MS: Protecting our environment and looking into how we can play our part in slowing the effects of climate change.
LC: As mentioned above, attainable housing and broadband service underlie crucial services, such as the recruitment of volunteers for the fire department and responding to pandemics such as the coronavirus.