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The Battle for District 1
Three candidates vie for Pat Peckham's seat — here's a look at them
Pat Peckham, a retired City Pages writer and editor with whom I worked on two different occasions, announced last year he wouldn’t be running for office again. And now three candidates have stepped in to challenge for the seat.
It’s one of two primaries Wausonians will have to make decisions in. The other is Wausau District 4. Below is the district map and I’ve added it to District 4 as well.
The district covers generally the Southeast Side neighborhood near Wausau’s municipal airport and North Central Health Care. In the interest of full disclosure, this is the district where I live.
The two top vote getters of the Feb. 15 primary will move on to the April general election. I’ve listed them in order they appear on the worksheet provided by the clerk, presumably listed in the order the candidates took out paperwork.
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Carol Lukens is a 57-year-old charter school teacher in the Wausau School District, teaching children grades 6-12, but mostly high school students, she tells The Wausonian. She’s also worked as a paralegal/legal assistant, working with buyers/mortgagees, real estate agents, sellers, creditors, county and city departments in the course of her work.
Lukens says she’s running for office because she believes strongly in the importance of local government. It’s something she tells her students, and believes in “walking the walk.” She believes a variety of voices is important in a society. “A society can’t exist if we’re all thinking the same thing,” Lukens says.
Lukens says she likes that the city has formed an affordable housing task force and that it’s focusing on public transportation because both issues are something she sees firsthand as a teacher. She likes the positivity of the current mayor, though is quick to add that’s not a diss on past mayors.
Lukens says she is hesitant to be too critical of the current council, since things are usually more complex than they seem on the surface and since she has served on school governance and watched a lot of school, city and county meetings; But she says she really wants to focus on affordable housing, transportation and employment.
Lukens says she worked with Peckham as a teacher when he was at City Pages, and heard good things about his responsiveness to residents. She hopes to fulfill her role similarly if elected, and feels she would bring a different professional background to the council. That experience in the public and private sector, plus a willingness to listen, is why she believes voters should choose her in the primary.
Kroll is a 38-year-old energy auditor, helping residents become more energy efficient. Kroll and his wife came to Wausau from the Twin Cities to move closer to family. Kroll says one of the appeals of Wausau was that it would afford more opportunities to become involved in the community, and running for city council is one such example.
Kroll currently serves as the chair of the Sustainability, Energy and Environment Committee, and a resident member of the Citizens Advisory Committee. He’s looking to take his involvement to the next level in running for council.
Kroll is very much in favor of the city adopting a strategic plan, something the city is currently undergoing at the behest of Mayor Katie Rosenberg. Kroll had some involvement in the environmental justice resolution that was pushed by Ald. Tom Kilian. Affordable housing is also a very important issue to Kroll.
Kroll says one of the issues he sees is communication — he’d like to see better communications channels between the council, the mayor and residents. Kroll says better communication would be something he’d bring to the table as District 1 alderman. Although Peckham was always available and a good representative, Kroll says, feedback he’s heard is that information wasn’t made as readily available as some residents would like. He’d like to improve that.
Kroll says sustainability is really important to him, and something that is a major part of his vision. He brings the perspective of a young father, something that sets him apart from the other candidates and makes him a representative of the demographic Wausau is trying to lure back to the city. He cites his experience with city staff and representatives, and experience serving on city committees, as reasons to vote for him.
Bublitz is a 67-year-old retired resident who worked jobs as diverse as working in a foundry, a printing factory, in restaurant management and for a phone company. He’s lived on the SouthEast Side for five years, and in Wausau since 2007.
Bublitz’s main concern is affordable housing, and he feels the city has done a lot for high-end apartments to bring in workers in that pay range (but feels the city hasn’t done enough to bring in the appropriate jobs to that level); but he feels not enough has been done in affordable housing.
He also feels strongly about sidewalk maintenance and safety. He cites issues with the crosswalks available to cross Sturgeon Eddy, especially for those in wheelchairs. He says there aren’t enough city workers to keep the sidewalks clear, and not enough bus drivers; he’d like to take a serious look at the city’s employment levels and recruitment tactics.
He likes that the city started the affordable housing task force and that it passed the A Community for All resolution.
Bublitz also says he’d like to see more things for young people to do in Wausau. He mentions getting a movie theater back or holding dances. He cites the video game arcades of his youth as an example of having a place for young people.
Bublitz says he wants to be an active force on the council, and cites his love of Wausau more than his hometown of Fort Atkinson. He feels he can put more time into the job than other candidates since he’s retired. He says he would like to get back to common sense, which he says is greatly missing.
(We have not yet received a headshot for Bublitz but will update the post when we receive one.)
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