Spring Election Preview

Diane Kirkland is challenging incumbent village president John Cox.

Diane Kirkland

10452 Orchard Isle, Ephraim


Family: Sister, Kathy, who lives in Ephraim; many cousins

Age: 61

Education: Upland High School, Upland, California; Chaffey Jr. College in Cucamonga, California

Dianne Kirkland

Occupation: Legal secretary in Los Angeles; office manager, promotion manager and conference director in the music industry both in New York and Los Angeles; owned of a walkie-talkie rental firm in Los Angeles; owned of a gift shop in Ephraim; baker at an Ephraim restaurant; served the Village of Ephraim for almost 26 years; former vice president of Meeting Planners International for Southern California for eight years; former freelance writer with monthly columns in Tiger Beat, Stepping Out, Star, Rona Barrett’s Gossip; and currently writer of the weekly Ephraim column and of special articles for the Door County Advocate for the past 25 years.

Previous Elected Office (if any): I was appointed Clerk in May of 1983 to fill out a term and was elected until the board changed it to an appointed position in the late 1980s. I worked full time as appointed Administrator/Clerk in Ephraim from 1989, together with the position of Zoning Administrator for 12 years and interim Treasurer for 18 months. I retired from full-time employment with the village Feb. 20, 2009.

Relevant Experience/ Civic involvement: Many years of handling the daily functions of the village have given me thorough knowledge of all facets of village operations. I have served on Door County study committees for room tax, affordable housing and a sub-committee on solid waste. I am a member of the Ephraim Historical Foundation and past member of the Ephraim Business Council. I served on the Stewardship Division of the Moravian Church for seven years, as an Elder and a Trustee for the Ephraim Moravian Church, and am currently Treasurer for Ephraim Moravian. I am treasurer for the Municipal Taxpayer Commission. I worked in publicity and on building projects for Habitat for Humanity Door County in its start-up years in the county. I served as past President of Peninsula Arts Theater, with productions throughout Door County and Wisconsin with our own cast, as well as in collaboration with Paul Sills’ Second City and the Blue Circle Theatre of New York.

Why are you the best choice for board president?

I have the best interests of the village as a whole at the heart of my service and a special history with Ephraim that gives me a plus in decision-making. I have no personal agenda. I would hold fast to the fact that a village president has no powers except the equal influence and vote along with the other four trustees, and I hold the conviction that all government actions should be conducted in the open with full knowledge of the taxpayers. I would encourage diversity on village committees as well as respectful exchange of ideas.

What is the number one issue facing the board and what is your position on it?

Long term, it is sustainability and diversity in both Ephraim and Door County business. Pretty much all of Northern Door’s eggs are in the tourism basket right now, and that’s certainly true of Ephraim where we have very few service industries. Service industry wages are falling behind the increase in cost of living here, and lack of housing available within those means has already created a shortfall of workers. It appears we will continue as an aging community – will we have the facilities and service people to meet our future needs?

Utilization of the room tax will help us grow tourism down the line, but our communities also need to find a way to encourage alternative business that will address the lack of mid- and upper-management positions in Door County as a whole. I believe that lack has led to losing our young people as they graduate from college as well as a negative to those looking at Door County as a place to raise their families and have a lucrative career.

We need to look at balancing both ends of the spectrum to keep us sustainable – housing for those in the service industry as well as upper-end jobs to attract young professionals and their families. It will take the services of the Door County Economic Development Council and the boards of all our Northern Door communities to develop a strategy for these long-term goals.

What perspective and skills do you bring to the board?

I have been a summer resident for my first 35 years, a full-time resident for the last 26 years, and a business owner in Ephraim and Los Angeles. I have worked in Door County’s tourism industry, in the private sector, in government, and with non-profits. I’ve lived in large cities on both coasts but much prefer it here. I have organizational skills from my years of directing conferences and multi-tasking here in Ephraim. I am reliable and have the integrity to do a job that’s fair-handed. Now that I’m retired, I have the time to devote to the position of president.

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

Smart Growth is among the top three – we are currently writing the implementation steps of the Smart Growth plan, that crucial time when you decide what is important in the next 20 years in our village and how we are going to get there. There must be enthusiasm brought back to the process, an excitement of planning for Ephraim’s future, and follow-through on Smart Growth decisions.

A second related issue is maintaining our uniqueness as a village and overall as a county. Ephraim has its history, its arts and high-quality tourist appeal. When sustainable development expert Ed McMahon addressed us in the Village Hall a few years back, two of the statements that stuck in my mind were “progress does not demand the degradation of our surroundings” and “if you look like everywhere else, why come here?” He maintains that in retaining a “sense of place,” everything is connected – conservation and economic development, environmental protection and the quality of life, and community image directly related to economic well-being. I think it is up to the Plan Committee and the board to keep that balance and Ephraim’s own “sense of place.”

A third issue is keeping taxes low enough for business, residents and summer residents alike to maintain their ability to live here. Mandates from State and Federal government, as well as expectations from the visitors, have added burdens to the taxes through the years. We must continue to pursue creative means, as well as grants and government efficiency, to achieve this.

John Cox

John S. Cox

9923 Townline Drive, Ephraim


Family: Married, Shelley; two adult children, Laurel and Steven

Age: 53

Education: Gibraltar High School; University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

Occupation: Aide to the Gibraltar Secondary School Principal/Athletic Director; family partner, Evergreen Beach Resort, Ephraim

Previous Elected Office: Ephraim Village President (2007 –present); Ephraim Village Trustee (1989 – 1992 and 2003 – 2007)

Relevant Experience/ Civic involvement: Current chairperson, Ephraim Planning Committee and Ephraim Coastal Management Committee; former member and chair of Ephraim Community Protection Committee and Ephraim Physical Facilities/Roads Committee; Ephraim Fire Department, Assistant Chief, 30 year member; Charter Member, Ephraim Firefighters Association (non-profit); former Gibraltar middle school boys basketball coach; former Northern Door youth soccer coach

Why are you the best choice for village president?

I have several years of experience in most facets of Ephraim government including Village President, Village Board Trustee (twice), assistant fire chief and firefighter for 30 years, and either the chairperson or member of many of Ephraim’s appointed committees. Our community needs a cautious, cordial, and respectful Village President without any personal agendas. My goal is to protect Ephraim’s historical integrity while carefully moving into the future. I hope to continue to bring my experience and personal attributes to the office of Ephraim Village President for the next two-year term.

What is the number one issue facing the board and what is your position on it?

Balancing the property rights of Ephraim taxpayers while protecting our Village heritage. It is my position that appropriate, unambiguous zoning ordinances need to be in place that encourage historical integrity while having respect for individual property rights. The village zoning codes must constantly be reviewed to make certain that our community strikes a balance between the need to protect its heritage, at the same time assuring taxpayers that they have the right to reasonably maintain and use their property. The village zoning ordinances must be professionally administered without preconceived judgment by the village staff and plan committee.

What perspective and skills do you bring to the board?

I am proud of the fact that even though I work a full time job, I make sure I find the time to get out and about in our village. It affords me the opportunity to talk to friends and neighbors, sharing their concerns as well as celebrating the special community we live in. Most of you know that Shelley and I walk our village streets nearly everyday. We never take Ephraim and its natural beauty for granted. Budgeting and management skills are important, but a Village President must be well informed, respectful, and possess strong communication skills. The Village President as well as the Trustees must be able to use available information and be willing to respectfully listen to comments and opinions from taxpayers and then make well-informed decisions.

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

The Village will meet the State of Wisconsin deadline of implementing its Smart Growth Plan. It is a pleasure working with the diverse, energetic members of the Ephraim Planning Committee,

The Village of Ephraim needs to continue to properly maintain Village owned property. The Village Board should set the example.

Because of possible county budget cuts, Ephraim’s Village Library has been at risk of being closed for the last two years. The Village Board will continue to fight to keep our local public library open.