Meet the Candidates

With the April 1 election just days away, we asked candidates in contested races throughout the county to

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answer a few questions. Here we present two of the three candidates for the two positions on the Liberty Grove Town Board (incumbent candidate Gary Farber did not respond).

Louis J. Covotsos

Lou Covostos

Age:  65

Education:  B.A. United States History, 1970, Hunter College, C.U.N.Y.; M.A. United States History, 1971, University of Chicago; Ph.D. United States History, 1976, University of Chicago; M.A. Library Science, 1980, Dominican University; J.D., 1985, Loyola University of Chicago School of Law.

Occupation:  Law Firm Administrator and Associate Professor of Law, retired from both

Relevant Experience or Civic Involvement:  At-large representative from Liberty Grove on the Exploratory Committee for the establishment of a Joint Fire District, June 2012 to present; Stella Maris Parish finance council member, April 2013 to present; Door Community Auditorium Board of Directors, 2012 to present; GEO-DC Board of Directors, Sept. 2012 to present; Scandia Village volunteer, 2010 to present; Sister Bay Library volunteer, 2011 to present; volunteer instructor for The Clearing’s winter program, 2010 to present; PFLAG of Door County volunteer (assisted with newsletter), 2010 to 2012

What is the biggest challenge facing Liberty Grove and how would you address it?

Financial – the gap between the town’s revenue and the expenses necessary to run the town. Since 2005, caps on municipal taxes forced towns to do more with fewer dollars. The simplistic, but incorrect answer:  spend less, manage your money better.

The town manages its finances wisely. Town board and staff are responsible, trustworthy stewards of the people’s money.

Since the electors decide on raising the levy cap in order to close the gap between income and expenses, education of the electors about the financial situation we are facing is one concrete way of meeting this challenge.

A second:  spend wisely, very wisely.

If the board were forced to make budget cuts, what would be the first thing to go?

As difficult as it might be to make any kind of budget cuts, the criteria we should use in making budget cuts is to eliminate or reduce discretionary expenses that benefit fewer rather than all of the town’s residents and visitors. For example, a real estate purchase for a visitors center in downtown Ellison Bay, as understandable and desirable as that might be to draw guests and to pump dollars into the area, does not benefit as many people—residents and visitors – as do sound, safe roads. Park beautification projects pale in significance to cuts to emergency fire and health services, etc.

The more who benefit, the greater the return on investment.

What do you see as the board’s duty to the residents and businesses in the municipality?

The board and staff are the stewards of the people’s money, welfare, and quality of life, now and for future generations. We owe a duty to spend our precious tax dollars wisely for what benefits the most with an emphasis on safety, health and welfare.

The town provides a unique place in which to live, work and play, with unmatched scenic and geographic gifts, with a small town community ethic with a big city culture, with natural resources worth preserving and opportunities for growth and development.  Maintaining the balance among these competing interests is the board’s greatest duty.

Hugh Mulliken

Hugh Mulliken


Age:  69

Education:  B.S. Southern Illinois University

Occupation:  Home design and our inn – Lodgings at Pioneer Lane

Relevant Experience or Civic Involvement:  Previously I completed two terms on the Liberty Grove Town Board (1994-1998) and currently serve as a member of the Village of Sister Bay Planning Committee. I am now completing my sixth consecutive term on the Door County Board of Supervisors. While serving on the county board I have been assigned to the following committees:  Ad Hoc Building Committee-Justice Center, Ad Hoc Building Committee-Government Center, Airports and Parks Committee, Property Committee, Museum and Archives Committee, Community Programs, Highway Committee, Resource Planning Committee, Land Conservation Committee, Law Enforcement Committee, Human Services Committee, and the Ad Hoc County Fair Study Group. I have served as chair of several of these committees to include Resource Planning and Land Conservation. 

In addition, for the past 12 years I have been active on the Lake Michigan Land & Water Conservation Committee and the Wisconsin Land & Water Conservation Committee, serving as president of both organizations. I attend Ephraim Moravian Church and have served on the Board of Elders and the Board of Trustees, now serving as president of the Board of Trustees.

What is the biggest challenge facing Liberty Grove and how would you address it?

Regaining public trust. The town needs to adopt and operate within a budget that reflects the income available to the town without using debt to make ends meet. In 2013 the town borrowed $500,000, using approximately $200,000 to complete the 2013 fiscal year and placing the balance of these funds into the 2014 budget.

Although it may not be possible to make dramatic changes that will immediately eliminate using debt as a source of general revenue, I would endeavor to study carefully our spending and be willing to make changes.

If the board were forced to make budget cuts, what would be the first thing to go?

The 2014 budget earmarks $49,000 for the town board wages and board expenses. Since I suggest that we need to reduce spending, this would be a good place to start. I would ask my fellow board members to reduce their compensation to $1 per month until such time that the dependence on debt as a general revenue source is eliminated.

What do you see as the board’s duty to the residents and businesses in the municipality?

A primary obligation of the town board is to insure good communication between the board and the residents. Secondly, the board members should budget for the town the same way they do their personal budgets. Using debt to make ends meet is not acceptable. I also feel that the town should support our local businesses using room tax dollars. Most important, however, is being proactive in the preservation of our land and water resources. 

Lastly, I have resided, worked and voted in Liberty Grove since 1971. I have seen many changes – some good and some bad. As a board member I would like to have an opportunity to help direct the inevitable changes so that my children and my grandchildren will find the Town of Liberty Grove affordable and a wonderful place to live. That will be my primary goal if elected.

Gary Farber

Age: 71

Education: BS in Education, MS in Guidance k-12, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Occupation: Retired

Relevant Experience or Civic Involvement: Twenty-nine years as a teacher, K-12 counselor and twelve years as a District Administrator in a school system of 4,000 students. Secretary and/or Secretary/Treasurer of the Liberty Grove Historical Society from 1999 to present. Board of Directors of the Door County Maritime Museum. Appointed to the Liberty Grove Town Board as a supervisor in April 2013.

What is the biggest challenge facing Liberty Grove and how would you address it?

The biggest challenge facing Liberty Grove is the budget. We will experience a shortfall of $400,000.00 in 2015. With the failure of the levy override we now have to find a way to make up that shortfall. The board and finance committee met for many agonizing hours trying to cut, but were unable to come up with more than $25,000. The office staff and maintenance staff have been very frugal in not only spending town funds, but in making due with the equipment that they have.

If the board were forced to make budget cuts, what would be the first thing to go?

Whatever the board cuts will be a problem for someone or some group. We can close the parks and/or the marina. We can stop cutting grass along the roadsides. We could put only sand on the roads and no salt. We could stop repairing our roads. The electorate doses not want to see any of those items taken away and everything else in the budget is related in one way or another with those types of services.

What do you see as the board’s duty to the residents and businesses in the municipality?

I believe that it is my responsibility to insure that all of the electorate has as much information as is available to make intelligent decisions. That means I have to find a way to get the information to them. I need to encourage them to attend, not only the town board meetings, but the committee meetings as well. Most of the information that the town board receives are recommendations from the committees after they have spend a great deal of time discussing each issue.