County leadership roles skewed

YOURCOUNTY
Jim Baumgart  Sheboygan County Supervisor

Once upon a time, Sheboygan County tried to balance its government fairly in order to represent all the people as best as possible. It is my understanding, in years past, if the Chairperson of the Sheboygan County Board was from outside the City of Sheboygan, most often the Vice Chairperson came from the City and, if reversed, the opposite was often true.

With membership on the most powerful committees, such as the Executive and Finance Committees, it was also important and fair to have members from both in and outside the City of Sheboygan. Well, things have certainly changed and one needs to ask why?

There have been some recent major changes on the Sheboygan Board but nothing that took away from providing fairness on the Board. For example, recently the number on Sheboygan County Board was lowered from 34 members to 25; that just expanded size of the districts. And, to provide equal number of voters in a district, every ten years after the national census the political boundaries are adjusted so the number of voters are nearly equal, so there is nothing here that raises the question of fairness.

Why then the fairness concern? Well, let’s review the county leadership process and see where it takes us. Who were the two elected to lead the Sheboygan County Board? Roger TeStroete is now the Chairperson and Thomas Wagner is Vice-Chairperson. Both are from outside the City of Sheboygan. This is a break from tradition but nothing especially wrong.

Next, look at the two most powerful committees of the Sheboygan County Board, Executive and Finance. Here there are some real concerns.

Members of the Executive Committee includes: Roger TeStroete, Chairperson and Thomas Wagner, Vice-Chairperson; members include Peggy Feider, William Goehring and George Marthenze. None are from the City of Sheboygan.

The Finance Committee includes: William Goehring, Chairperson; Greg Weggeman, Vice Chairperson; members Devin LeMahieu, George Marthenze and Thomas Wegner. None are from the City of Sheboygan. Do you see a trend developing?

When checking on the chairpersons of the other Sheboygan County committees, you will find more issues. Only two of the remaining seven committee chairpersons are from the City of Sheboygan; Roger Otten, chairperson of Health Care Center Committee and Edward Procek, chairperson of the Property Committee. The remaining five committee’s chairpersons are: Michael Ogea, Richard Bemis, Peggy Feider, Dan LeMahieu, and Thomas Epping. All come from outside the City of Sheboygan. Committee Chairpersons are important because they carry some power; they help set the agenda, preside over public hearings, and run committee meetings.

There may be nothing wrong with those listed as chairperson of a committee or with membership on the two most powerful committees of the Sheboygan County Board, except for the clear direction the whole process has gone and which can be viewed by the general public as somewhat convoluted and unfair.

There are other “red flags” that provide concern. When Michael Vandersteen resigned the County Board to become Mayor of the City of Sheboygan, Ronald Mueller, who had served as supervisor in that very area applied for the appointment; he had done a good job, lived and served his area for many years but was bypassed by Chairman Te Stroete through an appointment of someone who only recently moved into the district. Wow!

Or, when Michael Vandersteen resigned from the Executive Committee to be Mayor, George Marthenze was appointed by County Board Chairman Te Stroete, even though he was already on the powerful Finance Committee, thus blocking anyone else from serving, even someone from the City of Sheboygan. Hopefully these are only issues of fairness that can be corrected.


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