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Town of Stanton candidate: Nick Schaff

TOWN OF STANTON  —  Three candidates will be on the ballot for two supervisor positions for the Town of Stanton in the April 7 election.

Incumbent Town Chair Rich Monn will be running unopposed in the election.

The candidates for supervisors are Melissa J. Schutz; Nick Schaff; and incumbent Steve Nielsen.

Schaff, 46, is a resident of the Town of Stanton. His family includes Trisha (Heifner) Schaff, Karen Schaff and Walter Schaff.

The Tribune Press Reporter sent out questionnaires to the candidates.

Here are Schaff’s responses to the questionnaire:

• What is your occupation?

I work for the Department of Transportation in Eau Claire. My job title is Regional Environmental Coordinator. My job duties include working with regulatory agencies (primarily the DNR and Corps of Engineers) to acquire permits for transportation improvement projects. I am also responsible for making sure the DOT complies with FHWA environmental requirements. Prior to taking my position at the DOT, I worked at the DNR for 13 years in Poynette and Eau Claire, starting in Fisheries Management and then working as the DNR/DOT Transportation Liaison.

• Where have you lived other than the Town of Stanton?

I grew up in southeastern Minnesota near Rochester. In my early 20s I moved to western Colorado to attend college near Glenwood Springs. After graduation I stayed in Colorado for a few years and then moved back to Minnesota. I have also lived in La Crosse, Portage, Pardeeville, and Eau Claire.

• What is your educational background?

I received a degree in Veterinary Technology from Colorado Mountain College in 1993. After a few years working on a cattle ranch and then in the construction field I attended the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, where I was awarded a Bachelors degree in biology with an aquatic science concentration and chemistry minor in 2003.

• Why did you decided to accept the nomination for the Town of Stanton Board?

I have worked with former board member Bob Anderson for several years, first in my role at the DNR and then at the DOT. A couple years ago, Bob made the suggestion that I consider taking over his position as Town Supervisor. After talking it over with my wife I agreed to accept the nomination this time around.

• What about you background makes you particularly suited to serve on the town board?

I have worked in several jobs over the course of my life: including mowing the lawn at our church, helping neighbors bale hay, delivering auto parts, campus security guard, ranch hand, dump truck driver, equipment operator, mechanic, and others. Having this diversity in work experience has given me a broad knowledge of what it takes to get a job done, as well as the ability to work with just about anyone. My background in road construction brings a level of experience and expertise to the Town whose business, in large part, is to maintain the road system. My education and experience in the environmental field, coupled with my experience in the construction field enables me to see both sides of an issue, in that projects need to move forward in a manner that considers all impacts. I have been told by several people that I have an unusual supply of common sense. This enables me to see through the clutter surrounding an issue or problem and to concentrate on the underlying needs of the situation.  Finally, I believe that government in the United States was intended to have a light touch on our day to day lives. This applies to the financial and regulatory impacts government can have. My tenure on the Town Board, should I be elected, would focus on the belief that while some government is necessary, it isn’t the solution to every problem.

• What do you believe to be the biggest challenges or issues facing the Town of Stanton?

There are many challenges facing government today. Some are common to all government and others are unique to the Town of Stanton. I will focus on two. First we have private property rights. Property owners should be able to control what they do on their land. At the same time we must recognize that neighbors need to respect each other’s wants and desires. We also need to remember that what we do on our land can sometimes have a negative impact on those who live around us. Balancing the needs of the individual with the needs of the community is often difficult, but it is the role of government to try to strike this balance. The other issue that all government struggles with is variability in revenue, coupled with public expectations that all the services which government provides at times of high revenue should continue even when revenue is reduced. When the economy is good and tax revenues are high there is a temptation to expand the role of government, because the funding is there to do it.  When the economy contracts (and it always does eventually) it is difficult to fund these initiatives when tax revenues also fall. We need to always be careful of what we expect from government, because ultimately the money comes from us.

• What ideas do you have for increasing revenue or decreasing spending?

This is a difficult question to answer, since I don’t have a detailed knowledge of what the financial needs of the Town are. Overall I believe that the Town should have a light touch on the lives of the taxpayers, while at the same time be able to provide essential services.

• Why are you the best candidate for the Stanton Town Board?

I feel I am the best candidate for the position of Town Supervisor because I have a very diverse background. I am also very level-headed and have a history of working well with people. I believe my views on the role of government are in line with a majority of the residents in the Town of Stanton. I have a great deal of experience in the environmental field, as well as the construction field. I also have a great deal of knowledge about the frac sand industry, since during my time at the DNR I drafted the statewide paper on how the DNR interacts with and regulates non-metallic mining.