Meet the Candidates: Baileys Harbor, Forestville and Liberty Grove

Six referenda address issues on various ballots this election

Voters up and down Door County will have contested races to decide during the April 4 election. We’ll introduce all of those candidates, beginning with Baileys Harbor, Forestville and Liberty Grove in this issue. Our candidate coverage will continue in the March 24 and March 31 issues.

Absentee and Early Voting

Election Day is April 4, but absentee ballots are already circulating and can be requested from your municipal clerk’s office. Absentee ballots must be received by your municipal clerk no later than 8 pm on Election Day.

Another option is in-person early voting, which starts March 21. Hours vary by municipality, so check with yours to learn when you can stop by to cast an early vote.

Town of Egg Harbor Asking Whether Residents Want Garbage/Recycling Service 

In addition to local races, there are three questions, or referenda, on various April 4 ballots. 

The Gibraltar School District will ask voters whether it may borrow $29.8 million for a school-facility improvement project, and the Washington Island School District will ask voters whether it may exceed revenue limits by $935,000 for each of two school years for operational expenses.

In addition, the Town of Egg Harbor has an advisory question on its ballot that asks residents whether they want “town-wide garbage and recycling curb-side pickup for residential units.”

Currently, town residents may take their recycling to the town hall once a month, or to the Village of Egg Harbor’s recycling site any Saturday. (The town pays the village 50% of the cost to operate that site to give town residents the service.) 

When it comes to garbage, town residents are on their own. Some residents contract with a garbage service, but others use unsafe or illegal methods of disposal.

“Some ends up on the side of the road,” said Egg Harbor Town Board supervisor Dale Wiegand. “Some people burn the garbage, but they’re not supposed to do that at all. We did have a fire last June, and the whole house was lost, and that person was burning stuff in a burn barrel.”

The town board received two quotes to gauge the cost of the service, and those came in between $150,000 and $200,000, Wiegand said. At this price, town residents who currently have private roadside pickup would save up to 50% of the cost for private services, which currently run about $100 for three months’ worth of service. The cost for the town’s service would go on property owners’ tax bills as a special assessment.

If the town decides to offer the service, all residential units, whether seasonal or full time, would receive a container for garbage and another for recycling – there’s no opting out. The town may also be able to work out services for some businesses.

“I think it would be better if we went with roadside pickup, is my feeling,” Wiegand said. “It would be a lot safer for everybody.”

Three Ballot Questions for All Voters

The Wisconsin Legislature approved three questions for the April 4 ballot for all Wisconsin voters. 

The first question asks whether the state constitution should be amended to allow the state legislature to define what “serious harm” means in relation to the bail conditions that judges impose on accused persons who are released before their criminal trial, for the purpose of protecting the community from serious harm.

The second question asks whether the state constitution should be amended to authorize judges to impose cash bail on a person accused of a violent crime based on the totality of the circumstances, such as previous convictions for a violent crime, the probability that the accused person will fail to appear, or the need to protect the community.

The third question is advisory, asking voters, “Shall able-bodied, childless adults be required to look for work in order to receive taxpayer-funded welfare benefits?”

Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Refresher

The four candidates vying for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court were whittled to two during the Feb. 21 primary election: Daniel Kelly, who is supported by conservative voters, and Janet Protasiewicz, supported by liberal voters. Find a refresher about who they are and what they stand for at, courtesy of Peter Cameron with The Badger Project.

Town of Baileys Harbor

Two candidates are vying for the chair of the Baileys Harbor Town Board: incumbent chair Don Sitte and challenger David Eliot, co-owner/publisher of this publication. 

Two of the board’s seats are also up for election, but incumbents Peter Jacobs and Roberta Thelen are running unopposed, as is town constable Mark Merrill.

David Eliot.

David Eliot, 51, is the publisher, co-owner and co-founder of the Peninsula Pulse. He has a B.A. in English from Lawrence University. Eliot previously served as chair of the Baileys Harbor Town Board when he was appointed in August 2020 following that chair’s resignation, and he served for the remainder of the term, until April 2021. He is married to Krista Eliot. 

Why are you running for town chair instead of a supervisor seat?

Baileys Harbor has always found a way to solve its own problems, take care of the needs of the residents and prepare itself for facing future challenges. We need leadership that engages the entire community, builds consensus, is fiscally responsible, prepares for the future and leads us forward.

What is your town doing right? What needs improvement? 

What we are doing right is moving forward with improving broadband access for residents, preserving the town’s open spaces and maintaining its properties as they are. What needs improvement is how to juggle multiple, large projects; evaluating future needs; managing the budget; and generating more community engagement and involvement. 

What do you believe should be the top priorities for the town to address during the next five years?

All facilities, except the fire station, need repair. The marina needs a large investment in the next two years to keep it functioning. The town hall, public-works buildings and water-treatment facility all will need repair and/or expansion. We need to find ways to fund repairs/expansion without placing an undue burden on taxpayers.

Don Sitte.

Don Sitte, 78, the incumbent chair, is retired but works part time. A graduate of Gibraltar High School, he has served as town chair for the past two years and previously. He is married with two adult children. 

Why are you running for town chair instead of a supervisor seat? 

I would like to continue as town chair for the next two years to finish ongoing projects.

What is your town doing right? What needs improvement? 

We appointed a committee for high-speed internet in our town, appointed a committee for the Nelson property and have filled employment vacancies. On the improvement side, we need fiscal restraint. We can’t keep borrowing money for everyone’s favorite project. We can afford only so much. 

What do you believe should be the top priorities for the town to address during the next five years? 

Prepare for 2024 new road construction through town, update our town hall, and a cold-storage building.

Town of Forestville

When incumbent town board chair Roy Englebert decided not to run for another term, two candidates filed for the seat: Kevin Guilette and Larry Huber, who is currently a town board supervisor. Huber’s supervisory seat is also up for election, but no one filed to run for that position. 

On the ballot as well will be the clerk and treasurer positions, for which incumbent town clerk Ruth Kerscher and incumbent town treasurer Dena Schmidt are running unopposed.

Kevin Guilette.

Kevin Guilette, 51, owns Countryside Construction & Design, Red Barn Corn Maze and Carnival Deer Processing. He is a graduate of Southern Door High School. He is married to Jan Guilette, and they have five children: two adults and three at home. This is Guilette’s first run for a public office. 

Why are you running for town chair instead of a supervisor seat?

As a successful business owner in Forestville for 29 years, I have the experience to negotiate, delegate and follow through to produce results. As chair, I can take action, not just offer opinions. Being a decision maker who achieves goals, my skills best serve the community in this office. 

What is your town doing right? What needs improvement? 

The township is fiscally sound, and I applaud our current chairman for attempting negotiation with other municipalities about the Southern Door Fire Department (SDFD). As the separation continues, our town board needs to advocate for SDFD, a vital community asset. Additionally, I feel our town is behind in the process of obtaining broadband internet.

What do you believe should be the top priorities for the town to address during the next five years? 

The families and businesses in our town need reliable internet; this is a priority. I’ll also be a strong advocate for the SDFD, ensuring that the separation with Nasewaupee is fair and that SDFD maintains the resources it needs. 

Larry Huber.

Larry Huber, 82, is a retired Northeast Wisconsin Technical College educator and business consultant. He is a high school graduate and has taken some college courses. He currently serves as a supervisor on the town board, a seat he’s held for 10 years. Huber first became a supervisor as a write-in candidate; then he was elected for four additional two-year terms. He’s been married to Audrey Huber for 62 years, and they have three adult children. 

Why are you running for town chair instead of a supervisor seat?

The current chair decided not to run for reelection. I have the experience and leadership skills needed in this tough economic environment. I want to continue improving access to services for the residents of the Town of Forestville as chair.

What is your town doing right? What needs improvement?

We have done a good job with the roads – this needs to continue. Our website makes it easier for residents to view meetings, get permits and reserve the town hall. We started investigations into high-speed internet access for all residents. Issues related to invasive species will need more attention.

What do you believe should be the top priorities for the town to address during the next five years? 

The fire department changes and continued maintenance of town roads will be needed. Partnering with the county on wind, solar and other renewable initiatives will need input from our town government. Finding additional funding to support these projects will be necessary. 

Town of Liberty Grove

Incumbent town board chair John Lowry is being challenged for his seat by Janet Johnson, an incumbent town board supervisor whose seat is not up for election. Two other supervisor seats will be on the ballot, for which incumbent supervisors Nancy Goss and Cathy Ward are running unopposed.

Janet Johnson.

Janet Johnson, 70, is retired and working part time. She is a high school graduate with one year of college and several accounting classes. She is serving her first term as a supervisor on the Liberty Grove Town Board, having first been elected in 2020. Johnson is widowed (her husband was Alfred J. Johnson, aka No Goats) and has three adult children.

Why are you running for town chair instead of a supervisor seat? 

As a former employee of the Town of Liberty Grove, I always thought that I would run for town chairwoman when I retired. The position was not open at that time, so I ran for supervisor instead. I believe in term limits, so if I don’t run now, I never will.

What is your town doing right? What needs improvement? 

I think Liberty Grove has always served its residents well. We have always been fiscally responsible while maintaining our rural character. I would like to see younger people get involved in making plans for the town. After all, it is their future.

What do you believe should be the top priorities for the town to address during the next five years? 

First, the town needs to run high-speed internet to every parcel. We are already moving forward with that. We should also work to solve our attainable-housing problems. Without affordable housing, we will lose people who provide us with basic year-round services.

John Lowry.

John Lowry, 82, is self-employed. He has a B.S. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has served as chair of the Liberty Grove Town Board since 2008, and prior to that, he served three two-year terms as president of the Ephraim Village Board. He is married to Peg Lowry. 

Why are you running for town chair instead of a supervisor seat? 

I wish to continue navigating and completing with the board, committees and administration on current major projects in Liberty Grove: town-wide fiber-optic access, attainable housing, Mariner Park and smart budgeting.

What is your town doing right? What needs improvement? 

Liberty Grove has been successful in managing its budget, addressing issues and needs, transparency and community involvement. What needs improvement is the retention of young people, families and a viable, year-round economy.

What do you believe should be the top priorities for the town to address during the next five years? 

Completion of reliable internet access through the town-wide fiber-optic project, a solution to the retention of families and young people, attainable housing, completion of Mariner Park, continuation of the five- and 10-year plans of the various committees to project budgeting needs moving forward and prevent any surprises affecting budgeting, and continue looking forward to anticipate likely changes that will affect the town and always finding the best way forward.