Spring Election Preview

Incumbent Timothy Jessen is challenged by Ronald Overdahl.

Timothy Jessen

Jessen refused to answer a questionnaire and would not provide a photo or contact information for publication.

Ronald M. Overdahl

2228 Green Bay Road, Washington Island


Family: Wife Faith; three children and six grandchildren

Age: Not provided

Education: Bachelor of Science, dual major Mass Communication/Political Science and minor Geology from UW – Milwaukee

Ron Overdahl

Previous Elected Office: Two terms town board supervisor, Town of Washington; elected Chairman of the Door County Unit of the Wisconsin Towns Association

Relevant Experience/Civic involvement: Chairman of the Door County Unit of the Wisconsin Towns Association; Two term town board member; established the town Forum for Progress and appointed Chamber of Commerce President Carol Stayton the moderator; worked with the town board to create a broad-based and diverse Economic Development Committee; worked with Door County Memorial Hospital to establish two health care professionals to provide the town 24/7, 365 days a year coverage.

Retired photojournalist – over 40 years experience in national, state and community coverage. Nominated twice for a Pulitzer Prize; winner of several top national and state awards for excellence in photojournalism; author of numerous published articles positively representing Washington Island; instructor of Photojournalism at UWM; member of Trinity Church; member of the Lions Club and chairman of the Washington island Lions Club Annual Fair.

Why are you the best choice for town chairman?

The town chairman has to be an effective problem solver. He is the point person serving the interests of all the taxpayers equally. His own self interests have to be set aside. The agenda should include all items of concern to all board members as well as items brought forth from town committees.

Open and fair government are my passion. With four years experience as town supervisor plus 37 years as a journalist, I have developed the skill set to remain objective and to be open – to listen, to hear and to respond. If Washington Island taxpayers want a fair and responsive government, they have one choice.

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

This is shaping up to be as critical a year for our construction, tourism and retail industries as it is for the economic stability of individual families. Certain elements of town government must be maintained. The town must assure public safety. Landowners must be assured that the rights they deserve have not been diminished. It is essential that no new unfunded programs be initiated. These are critical components of economic stability.

To preserve the unique beauty of our Island for residents and tourists, the town board must tackle the encroachment of invasive species on our land and beaches. The natural beauty of Washington Island is under attack! Our beaches and our land are economic components of our Island. I am confident that with the restoration of the Parks Committee, our township can effectively write and win state grants and funding to combat this problem with little or no expense to the property taxpayer. The restoration of Sand Dunes Beach is part of our economic viability.

Washington Island must remain the destination of choice for a day or a lifetime.

What perspective and skills do you bring to the board?

Everyone is important and deserving of equal consideration and a say in the decision making process. As a photojournalist and instructor of photojournalism for 37 years, I believe that human dignity is the right of each and every one of us. A positive message that respects the dignity of each person is critical. We are all part of this wonderful community. No one person or group is more or less important than any other.

Objectivity with a positive point of view can and must serve us all equally.

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

Communications are essential; face-to-face, on the phone (I have been and will continue to be available to the taxpayers by phone any time), and through written communications. I plan to have a Chairman’s Corner in the local newspaper to bring forth issues. Our town needs to revisit the use of a website to include agendas and background material on items to come before the committees and the board. Agendas must be posted early enough to allow for people to review and the full packet must be available early enough to allow people to look it over. This island belongs to the taxpayers; they must have ample time and information to be able to weigh in on items important to them and to their families.

People who are involved in their community don’t always see things the same as one another. I will work toward resolving our differences. Organizations and individuals need to come forward with their concerns so that a dialogue can happen. We are all in this boat together, let’s all row together and keep this boat moving forward!

Intergovernmental relationships are important to solving the tax burden of NWTC. Our community is not alone; several communities throughout Wisconsin are under the same burden. We need to form an alliance of townships and take the issue to Madison and address this specific issue of tax inequity.