On the April 3 general election ballot, Lincoln County voters will have a number of choices to make for city and county offices.
Candidates in contested races for local offices were asked to introduce themselves by filling out a questionnaire and making some comments about themselves and their views. This week we heard from the candidates for Merrill City Clerk, Merrill Alderman for Districts 3 and 4, and Lincoln County Board Supervisors for Districts 10 and 20. Following are responses from the Merrill 3rd Aldermanic District race.
Ryan Schwartzman – Incumbent
Family: Wife, Stephany; son, Cooper Bradley (age 5); daughter, Renlee Eden (age 4); and son, Wyatt Arthur (1 year old).
Education: High School Diploma, some post-high school credits.
Employment: Former owner of Champs Restaurant and Dorkfathers; current manager at ACE Hardware of Merrill.
Involvement: Current 3rd District Alderman since 2010; Former 3rd District County Board Supervisor 2014-16; Founder and President of Central Wisconsin Gaming Enthusiasts; Merrill Historical Society Board Member.
Comments: “It has been an honor to serve the third district of Merrill these past 8 years, including a concurrent term as District 3 County Supervisor. I have remained true to my main goal while in office; to make decisions that best help Merrill be the best community in central Wisconsin. I never dreamed of being part of multiple ‘once in a lifetime’ decisions such as the River Bend Trail, a new Aquatic Center, the new Fire Department Headquarters and being at the forefront of discussions that led to the city taking control of the old fairgrounds. I look forward to when my children and future grandchildren are old enough to show them all that was accomplished while I was an alderman. With everything that has been accomplished, there is still more work to do. I have some lofty goals. Not just for the next two years, but for many years to come.
“1) A new City of Merrill app that is a single, city-branded app that connects to all of the services, resources and information that the city has to offer. Whether it is 311 issue reporting, city news, event calendars, business directory, paying bills or finding parks and facilities.
“2) Finish the expansion of Pine Ridge Avenue to Highway G. I feel this expansion will have multiple positive effects on Merrill.
“3) As a member of the Redevelopment Authority, I will continue and increase development throughout the city. My focus will be to find a business or multiple businesses to fill the new industrial park. Merrill needs more higher wage jobs and we can be competitive with any other community as long as we continue to be forward thinking.
“Again, it has been an honor to serve the Third District of Merrill. I want Merrill to grow and be the best community in central Wisconsin. I want this not only for my family but yours. I am #MerrillPositive.”
Eric Ott – Challenger
Family: Wife, Angela; mother, Julie Lambrecht; father, Randy Ott; brother, Ryan Ott. Education: Merrill High School, Class of 2005.
Employment: Professional truck driver for Burgener Contract Carriers.
Comments: “As we approach the election, I ask you to focus on a single thought. Have you and others been happy with your elected representatives?
“It seems as if almost daily we hear complaints. Demolished buildings, trees being cut, taxes, overpaid and unnecessary city positions, drugs, wild spending, our dwindling population (down 792 people since 2000 [8%]) especially graduates, nothing to do, no place good to work, you name it! Merrill is not happy.
“In 1776, Thomas Jefferson said, ‘When the representative body have lost the confidence of their constituents… then indeed their continuing in office becomes dangerous.’
“A recent online local poll asked: ‘Would you support a re-evaluation of the salary and benefits for Mayor, City Administrator, City Attorney, and Finance Director?’ The 2018 Proposed Budget Report says three of these positions will make more than $430,000 in 2018.
“The results of the poll showed an overwhelming majority support for yes (94%), none of them elected officials. However, out of only six No’s, one was my opponent.
“My number one goal in office, is putting that representation and trust back into your hands. As part of my plan, I am already designing an online forum called MerrillTopics.org. You’ll be able to connect with your elected officials and friends, as well as others in the community, to discuss an endless amount of ways to make Merrill succeed, and stay informed. The site will launch April 4th, but I encourage you to visit before then, as I go into a tremendous amount of detail regarding my goals in office.
“In 2004, my Junior year of High School, I took on the School Administration to save Tech Ed classes. I did research, wrote letters to newspapers, made phone calls, formed a sit-in and faced severe backlash, but eventually saved the classes, triggering a letter of recognition of my efforts to me from then Governor Tommy Thompson.
“That was the opposition Merrill needed then, and it’s the type of representation you deserve now!
“I look forward to an opportunity to prove it!
“Thank you for your time.”