Liberty Grove Chair Candidates Speak

The Peninsula Pulse asked each candidate for Liberty Grove Town Chair and Supervisor to respond to three questions on the minds of town voters as they prepare for the Feb. 17 primary. Bios of the candidates are also available at

Why are you the best choice for Liberty Grove Town Chairman or Supervisor?

Nancy Goss: I have a history of, and current hands-on experience of many facets of municipal government: from a thorough understanding of the Wisconsin open meetings and open records laws, to municipal cash management, to zoning and land use, including the making of ordinances. I work well with other elected officials and staff at both the local municipal and County levels. I’m a team player and a good listener.

Frank Forkert: Thirty-nine years as a resident gives me broad and deep knowledge and experience plus long term perspective on Liberty Grove’s issues and problems.

John Lowry: I believe I will bring to the office a wide range of experience and participation in business, civic, educational and governmental endeavors. I am a good listener and firm believer in direct open communication. I will actively seek to engage town residents in on going dialogs and participation in governmental decisions.

Charlie Most Jr.: I feel that I would bring a unique set of skills and experience to the office of Liberty Grove Town Chairman.

Ann Miller: In the past three years I have worked diligently for Liberty Grove on committee and board levels. I approach issues with an open mind, willing to dedicate the time needed to move forward on issues current and future. I come to the table with no special interests to sway my decisions. I have positive working relationships with other intergovernmental agencies. I have a “can do” attitude. I believe in keeping the public very informed and involved in local government.

Regina Thorn: I’m running a word of mouth campaign to bring the voice of the people back to the town. Liberty Grove parliamentary procedures say only the town chairman nay choose who is on our committees and commissions with the approval of the board. Only the chairman can decide who may speak and how long. I would explain agenda items before public input, so that the public can give knowledgeable comments to our board members. I would form committees with residents who are for, against and undecided, so that a more rounded knowledge of facts is achieved. I feel it is the chairman’s job to teach people how to get their opinions heard and to provide both positive and negative views to sitting board members.

Kim Maedke-Shumway: I am an honest, hard-working resident of Door County. I may not have much experience right now, but I do know the people of Liberty Grove want change and need a spokesperson and I think I am the best person to listen and act upon their concerns.

MaryKay Shumway:  I have always served with an eye toward the future, in maintaining and improving Door County’s assets and natural features for my own daughters. I am well familiar with Liberty Grove’s policies and procedures, having actually written and helped adopt some of the Town’s existing adopted resolutions and ordinances.

Jill Karkau:  I am focused on the issues in context to the larger picture- state, federal and global. I have worked through a variety of bureaucracies. I use logic and fact to evaluate situations and problems. I hope to bring a wide and inclusive perspective to the board.

What is your position on the Gills Rock Marina proposal?

Nancy Goss: I’m not yet prepared to commit to support or oppose until all the necessary information is in. We can’t seek the capture of grant money until we have a completed plan for presentation to the granting bodies. Components of this plan are progressing agonizingly slowly. We are waiting for a DNR appraiser to value the properties that would need to be purchased. As frustrating as the waiting has been, we are beholden to the schedule of required expertise in order to answer the question, "What is it going to cost the taxpayers?" Once we have an idea jamof how much of the project can be funded by state and federal dollars, we can begin to get a grasp of the real local costs.

With the economy in the worst shape many of us have seen in our lifetimes, with the State of Wisconsin facing a $4 billion deficit, with many people losing jobs or benefits while seeing their retirement funds and savings losing 25 percent or more,

I have to wonder how much of the talked-about grant moneys will actually be available, and what will the competition be like for those grant dollars? I believe the harbor of refuge and all it entails is a wonderful concept and embodies controlled development in the greatest public interest. However, without significant infusion of non-taxpayer dollars, I could not support saddling our Liberty Grove residents with $14 million in long-term debt.

Once enough information has been collected for a decision to be made (my understanding is this will be sometime in March), as Liberty Grove Town Chair, I would bring this issue to a referendum. It is far too important to the Liberty Grove taxpayers to be decided by a five-person board.

John Lowry: The project is in its planning stages with the committee weighing options and gathering vital information from State Agencies and Consultants. It is imperative that once all the relevant data, costs, economic and environmental impact has been collected that the Town Board presents to the voters an extremely comprehensive report on the pros and cons of the project. I would expect a rational, unemotional discussion that leads to a decision on the project.

Frank Forkert: The Committee should complete its assigned task and provide the community with a very complete report and have an informational meeting to answer any questions. The Board should then take the project to a referendum vote by registered voters in the Town.

Charlie Most Jr.: I feel that all the research needs to be completed so that it can be presented to the town for a decision to be made concerning the project via referendum.

Ann Miller: The Gills Rock Harbor of Refuge and Maritime Heritage Center is an extremely complex project. It involves working with numerous agencies and inter-governmentally at all levels. I have attended in a citizen status, committee and board meetings in regards to this project. This allows me to be better informed of the process and progress. It is my hope that we can receive enough state and federal grant money to make it affordable for our local taxpayers.

I believe it will stimulate the local economy and create part and full time jobs. We are awaiting the Wisconsin Department of Transportation economic impact study on this issue to be presented to us in March.

The Gills Rock project is designed to provide a safe harbor of refuge for boaters between Sister Bay and Washington Island. A survey of L.G. property owners had a majority of people requesting that any harbor projects considered be self-sustaining. This was one of the criteria requested of the design firm.

Numerous amenities for the general public, not just the boating public, have been designed into the concept chosen. We must keep in mind that the 26 acres under consideration are now privately owned, and if this project meets electorate approval, approximately 1,000 feet of shoreline at the site that would be preserved for public access in perpetuity.

Regina Thorn: Buying Shore frontage with a public boat launch would be an asset to Liberty Grove. But I do not believe we need the planned marina, which is about three times the size of Sister Bay’s marina. Let alone having to buy wet lands for parking lots underwater and raised boardwalks to take a walk in yet another park. Liberty Grove has numerous parks. The Garrett Bay property just purchased is our newest park.

Kim Maedke-Shumway: I still truly feel undecided at this time. I feel we need to really take a look at our options because we are a tourist area and I think this would be a great project to bring more revenue into the area. But there are many unanswered issues in regards to this which include environmental concerns, water quality concerns and most of all how it will all be paid for. We have to consider what the alternative could be if the town does not go through with this project. Will the land be sold to a private developer who will put condos up and then the public will no longer have any shore access at all? Thus far, I think the town and committees involved have done a great job, and have shared information with the public as much as they can. This needs to continue and hopefully the right choice will be made by the town.

Jill Karkau:  It’s like putting 100 pounds of beans in a 10 pound sack –  100 slips, breakwater enclosing 8 acres, 2 or 3 launch ramps, living museum, maritime museum, attached to 7 acres with an 850′ shoreline, a 200’x200′ park (wow), 3 parking lots on site, more across the road in the wetlands with nature trails, etc.. fuel dock, offices and all necessary appurtenances. The price tag – $11-14M plus land (now up to 26 acres) and minus grants. The marina is projected to retire a debt of $3.5 million in 30 years. it doesn’t sound "feasible" to me. Deep-six or scale to fit gills rock character and our pockets.

What other issue or issues are a high priority for the town in the term ahead?

Frank Forkert: 1. Continue with a strong effort to retain the Post Office in Ellison Bay.

2. Continue to inspect individual and group wastewater systems on an equitable basis.

3. Initiate a new program for periodic water testing to monitor the condition of the aquifer throughout the Town.

4. Actively participate in completing an updated intergovernmental agreement with the Sister Bay Sanitary District, and Liberty Grove Sanitary District #1 and the Liberty Grove Sanitary Utility.

5. Publish and mail a regular town newsletter to all residents and property owners with a questionnaire than can be easily completed and returned to the town secretary.

6. Consider periodic informal informational meetings to inform residents of the progress on current issues, answer questions and receive comments.

7. The Plan Commission should continue to monitor the town’s position on utilizing Door County zoning ordinances, staff and procedures to protect our town’s growth and protect its unique beauty.

John Lowry: Two-way communication between the Town Government and its citizens is extremely important. The more everyone is aware of issues and is able to communicate concerns and positions the easier it is to come to a decision. One may or not agree with the decision but if they have the opportunity to voice their concerns/position and hear opposite concerns/positions the more likely they will understand and appreciate why that decision was made.

The economic future is perhaps the most important issue facing the Town. Communication, taxes, Ellison Bay Post Office, zoning, light industrial zone, Gills Rock Harbor Project all link back to our economy. This will need a lot of discussion and thought.

Taxes are always a concern and how to balance services provided with those taxes. I would encourage participation on the part of Town residents in all decisions on how to spend tax dollars and the services provided.

The Ellison Bay Post Office will continue to be a priority for the Board. It is very important to continue the efforts with the Postal Department to find a solution that will keep a postal office in Ellison Bay.

Charlie Most Jr.: Completion of sanitary survey in the town to identify failing POWTs. Holding operating budget increases to a minimum while continuing to provide good services to Liberty Grove residents. The upcoming re-valuation of the town. Continuing to protect the town’s scenic beauty, while providing for economic development. Continue the process of reviewing and updating the town’s comprehensive plan. Bringing high speed internet access to all of Liberty Grove.

Ann Miller: 1. Keeping our drinking and recreational water resources safe is a very serious concern. I initiated a proactive program approved by the board with public input to work with the county sanitarian’s office on inspection and bringing into compliance Private On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems within our town. Many failing systems have been discovered and are scheduled for replacement. This program is in its third year and continues with more testing till systems of all ages are in compliance.

2. I support communication to and education of constituents who desire to be informed on the background of complex topics. I feel this assists them in understanding why various decisions are arrived by the Board as a whole.

3. Balancing the rights of individual property owners versus the public good for the vision of the future of Liberty Grove as laid out in our comprehensive plan requires constant attention. The town board, Plan Commission, and Resource Planning Commission continue working to achieve acceptable solutions to controlled growth within the town while preserving our rural and historic character, natural resources and beauty.

4. The Ellison Bay Post Office in its currently outdated facility is being addressed by the town board. Bureaucratic red tape upstream has made moving forward a slow process but is making headway.

Regina Thorn: 1. The $1 million dollar-plus addition to the town hall. Well needed.

2. Redesigning Hwy 42 near J.J.’s.

3. Ellison Bay park improvements.

4. Decide plans for Garrett Bay property.

5. Continued inspections on septic systems in Liberty Grove.

Kim Maedke-Shumway:  I still see many areas where the Town can continue to strive toward improvement, and believe in assisting to research how the town generate additional revenue exclusive of mil rate increases to help Liberty Grove continue to develop and additionally improve the infrastructure it needs to maintain to remain viable in consideration with the other towns and villages of Door County in the battle for tourism dollars. Through the years, my experiences have assisted in attaining the realization that Liberty Grove needs delicate preservation and protection done in careful conjunction with needed growth and development. My best relevant experience may simply be that I am a working wife and mother with high hopes for my community-. My husband and I would like to see Liberty Grove preserved and developed in a manner that I can continue to enjoy with my own daughters and, hopefully, my grandchildren.

Jill Karkau: The town is over-due to expand its post office space and up-date its smart growth plan.  Worthy and needed projects call for a closer and open rapport between voters and the board. I hope to achieve that goal.