Five people are running for two seats on the Sevastopol Town Board, including incumbents Tony Haen and Linda Wait. Haen provided a biography that was edited down to the 100-word limit we requested from the candidates, but he did not send a photo or respond to the questions. Candidate Kurt Krauel did not respond.
Darrick DeMeuse (DD): I was born and raised in the Town of Sevastopol, graduating from Sevastopol School in 1997 where I was a member of FFA. After studying for a time at Northern Michigan University, I returned to be closer to family. I am the youngest of five children born to Darrell and Rachel DeMeuse. I have been employed at Shopko Hometown in Sister Bay since November of 2015. I am an active volunteer and fundraiser for a number of local nonprofits, such as Catholic Financial and Open Door Pride, lending my support to missions that affirm community diversity and inclusion for all.
Kimberly Denil (KD): I have lived and worked in the county for more than 30 years. I am a small business owner and a finance department coordinator for a local nationwide nonprofit. My work experience is in accounting and management. I hold a paralegal degree in addition to a degree in accounting and small business bookkeeping. I have taken additional classes specific to government and nonprofit tax, budgeting, leadership development and legal issues for supervisors. I have written credit policies and procedures and I have set up accountability checks to ensure accuracy.
Tony Haen (I) (TH): I have been on the town board for four years. I was born and raised in the Town of Sevastopol. Attended SS Peter & Paul Catholic School. Attended and graduated from Sevastopol High School. I married my high school sweetheart, Mariellen. We have four adult children who all attended and graduated from Sevastopol School. Five of our grandchildren currently attend Sevastopol School. We operated the family farm until 1983, then I went into the construction field. I retired in 2016. I am currently a member of the Sevastopol Plan Commission. I am the chairman of the Sevastopol Park and Rec Board. I am currently the dam operator at the Clark Lake Dam.
Linda Wait (I) (LW): Home-grown on Kiehnau family dairy farm near Institute; graduated Sevastopol High School 1969. Career has been working at legal firms in Sturgeon Bay, Green Bay and Milwaukee. In 2000, moved back to Sevastopol community. Father Bill Kiehnau, a Town Board supervisor at the time, encouraged me to take an interest in local government; began attending meetings and the passion developed. Elected clerk/treasurer in 2001, retired in 2016. Elected as Town Board Supervisor in 2017; currently serve in that role. Actively involved with other local commissions and organizations; aim to stay informed on our community, county and state matters.
What motivated you to run for public office?
DD: My family has been an inspiration, modeling high levels of community service throughout my life. My father served in the United States Army, fighting in the Vietnam War, where he received numerous commendations. My mother was a long-time public school teacher and currently works as a caregiver. I hope to follow in their footsteps by going into public service, giving back to the great community where we live.
KD: In attending and watching the meetings, I have often felt frustrated and certain that something more could have been done in certain circumstances, as far as the best interest of the majority of the citizens. I would welcome the opportunity to represent my neighbors and friends and I firmly believe that I could have a positive impact.
LW: Growing up in a small rural community, it was obvious that parents and neighbors were connected and took an interest in what was happening at church, school and town levels; it seems those traits are also inherent to me. Having served as the town’s clerk/treasurer for 15 years, I came to know our residents, business owners and frequent visitors. Shortly after retiring in 2016, I felt the need to reconnect with our local government and citizens, bringing knowledge gained over the years and an upbeat attitude going forward.
With five candidates running for two seats, why should voters choose you?
DD: With the number of candidates, it’s exciting to see so much interest in running for the Town Board – it demonstrates the amazing dedication of our citizenry. I believe that my life-long residency in Sevastopol has given me an intimate look at what my fellow residents value and desire to achieve within the community. If given the opportunity to serve in this capacity, I would bring a fresh set of eyes and ears to the town board, ready to tackle both longstanding and new challenges faced by our community.
KD: I feel strongly that more could be done to enrich our town and promote growth. I can offer financial and budget knowledge, in addition to being a solid and participating member of the board. I will vote in favor of, and push for, what is in the best interest of the community as a whole.
LW: I remain committed to the Sevastopol community. As a representative of the town, I pledge to maintain a professional appearance, to act in a responsible and civil manner, and to make myself available by phone, text, email or personal visit to promptly respond to concerns.
As a taxpayer, I have a vested interest in our town budget and pledge to make the best use of our tax dollars, taking into consideration the levy limits that are imposed upon us and the ever-increasing cost of services that we provide.
And as a resident, I take pride in the great resources we have here in Sevastopol – our beautiful shores, a state park, county parks and town parks with ballfields and beaches for outdoor recreation, a school that has been nationally recognized for academics, and a balance among residential, agriculture and small-business opportunities.
What skills will you bring to the table?
DD: I have a long history in the customer service industry, which has allowed me the opportunity to hone my listening and problem-solving skills. I am empathetic to the variety of issues facing our community and look forward to meeting these head-on, injecting a new sense of enthusiasm to the town board.
KD: I have over 26 years of experience in accounting, human resources and management and I am registered with the State of Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions as a notary public. I am responsible for a monthly reconciliation of more than 20 checking accounts and 30 credit cards for our staff located nationwide, and I process all of the accounts payable. In addition to my classes and training in accounting, I have also taken classes specializing in team building and problem solving.
LW: Previously serving as clerk and now as the incumbent supervisor, I have an intimate knowledge of our budget – where the dollars come from and where they need to go. The majority of our town roads are in fairly good condition and I am familiar with the methods and applications available to maintain and reconstruct as needed. I am well versed in county zoning as it applies to our town, and well-informed on our intergovernmental business relationships with other units. I do my homework to prepare for each and every meeting, with a goal of looking at the “whole picture” and carrying out duties in the best interests of the town.
What challenges do you see ahead for the Town of Sevastopol?
DD: One challenge that Sevastopol faces is reconciling the tourism culture of greater Door County with our deeply rooted agricultural tradition. I look forward to working with community members to seek solutions that do not alienate the landowners and farmers who are the backbone of Sevastopol.
KD: Continuing to grow and have sustainability is vital in small communities. As a community we also need to get our younger generation and youth more involved and inspire them to be leaders.
LW: Limited revenues could be a future challenge. Currently, the town relies mainly on residential development to support its tax base, with past consensus being cautious about commercial development. There seems to be a strong desire to retain natural areas and some concerns over ag practices. A challenge might be a balancing act when it comes to future land use, but also financially ensuring our ability to maintain infrastructure and provide services.
The erosion of local control is certainly a challenge for many towns, Sevastopol included. Legislation is enacted which is some cases is not in the best interests of small municipalities – can we better communicate with our legislators on our needs.
Protecting the quality of our groundwater, inland waters and streams is a focal point – we need to encourage awareness and good practices, and take advantage of grant programs toward those goals.
What opportunities do you see for the town?
DD: I would like to explore the possibility of making improvements to our public parks as a way of enhancing these welcoming public spaces for old and new residents alike. Additionally, I am interested in organizing regular community events so that residents can create and continue to foster neighborly relationships.
KD: The collection of room tax from online companies such as Airbnb has been an issue recently, and with so many rentals and vacation homes in our town, this would allow an opportunity for increased revenue. We also need to have continued growth in small businesses and agriculture. As a town, we need to accommodate and support the businesses that are in the town and encourage new businesses to become a part of our community and join us in ensuring a viable future.
LW: The 10-year mandated update of Sevastopol’s comprehensive plan is underway. I would encourage all stakeholders to participate in public hearings on this project. Your input will help chart the course of this planning and marketing tool.
Our construction debt on the town hall will be paid off this year. It is imperative that we adhere to a long-term capital improvements program that sets forth realistic schedules for road work, facilities and other projects, along with maintaining a contingency fund for unexpected outlays.
Our town hall in Institute is a wonderful facility, fully accessible. Perhaps there is opportunity for some expanded use of this community building to engage residents. An improved audio/visual system would be beneficial for audience and discussion purposes.
If you’re an incumbent, what have you specifically done for the town? If you’re a newcomer, what are your top two goals if elected?
DD: (Goal #1) My educational and employment backgrounds have allowed me to become somewhat of a subject-matter-expert in regard to electronics and internet capabilities. I believe that Sevastopol is currently underserved when it comes to reliable, affordable, high speed internet. I look forward to addressing solutions that can assist the community in moving forward with this necessary service.
(Goal #2) Above all, it is my aim to promote a stronger sense of connectedness and togetherness within the community. I promise to be continually mindful that as an elected official, it would be my job to represent the people and respect their collective vision for our town.
KD: First and foremost, I would like to see the community more involved and participating at the monthly meetings and the ability of the citizens to come together to make informed decisions. I think that some of the town’s issues could be avoided if a little more discussion was held at the meetings and citizens were respectfully allowed to have an opinion. When a community becomes unified, they can accomplish so much more and enrich the lives of its residents. Second, I would like to see more transparency for the citizens of the town. There should never be a feeling that something is being concealed or covered up. Open book policies are the best and create less doubt and less animosity. In return, trust is gained.
LW: The town board’s role is to work cooperatively in the best interests of the town. This is a group effort, based on consensus, sometimes compromise, with the whole picture in mind. I take an active role in board and committee meetings, have enthusiastically participated in projects and events, have always been readily available to constituents, and have taken advantage of educational opportunities, such as offered by Wisconsin Towns Association. My passion for our town and community has been evident for many years and continues to be a focus in my life.