COLFAX — All together, six candidates for three positions were nominated at the caucus for the Town of Howard on January 24 to appear on the ballot in the April 7 election.
Vernon J. Schindler, incumbent, was nominated for chair of the town board, and Jeff Bennesch also was nominated for chair.
Incumbent supervisors Tom Zwiefelhofer and Dennis Dvorcek were nominated, along with Christian Rushmann and Todd Wanish.
Bennesch, 48, lives on county Highway B in the Town of Howard. He and his wife, Rose, and daughter, Hannah, own and operate Frosty View Farms, a fourth generation family farm which has transitioned from dairy to primarily a cash grain operation with a few beef cows.
The Colfax Messenger sent out questionnaires to the candidates.
Here are Bennesch’s answers to the questions.
• Where have you lived other than the Town of Howard (if anywhere else)?
For two years, 1991-1993, I lived in the Fort Collins and Longmont, Colorado areas.
• What is your educational background?
I have a two year degree in Agricultural Mechanics from CVTC Eau Claire, 15 plus years of continuing education through CVTC’s Farm Business and Production Management Program, 22 years of practical real life experience owning and managing my own business, and a combined 22 years of experience on various boards of directors. I am currently serving my eighth year as chairman of The Farmers Health Insurance Cooperative of Wisconsin and in my third year as chair of the Chippewa County Zoning Board of Adjustment. I have also served as a firefighter with the Chippewa Fire District Station 6 Howard.
• What about your background makes you particularly suited to serve on the town board?
I believe my 22 years of experience managing and growing the farm business in all types of economic times gives me practical experience to draw on managing the Town of Howard for the future. I value openness and integrity. I also try to plan ahead instead of waiting for a crisis to develop and then try to deal with it. I am a team player. I expect all board members to have input on the issues that face the Town. I believe the Town of Howard deserves a fresh perspective in the office of chairman. The Town deserves respectful meetings, held with honesty and openness where input from others is welcome.
• What do you believe to be the biggest challenges or issues for the Town of Howard?
The non-metallic mining issue is probably the most controversial issue facing the Town at this time. The mines if permitted will be here for a long time. As chair, I will not rush into any agreement with anyone just to get it done. The Board needs to take time to do the necessary research and obtain input from all residents and only then using sound science move forward in a responsible way. Our largest challenge going forward I believe will be maintaining our infrastructure without drastically raising taxes. The area I believe the town has the most control over is the way it spends the taxpayers’ money. We need to make better spending decisions. We cannot continue to make the same reactive spending decisions as in the past, like spending well over $5,000 last winter to keep a 26-year-old plow truck running, which is only worth around $3,500 and will not pass a D.O.T. Inspection.
• Why are you the best candidate for chair of the Howard Town Board?
It is my goal as chairman to bring a spirit of cooperation and unity back to the board. All members bring strengths and experiences to the board. We need to see those strengths in each other and maximize them for the benefit of the Town.