Potential Council Member Forum 2021

As in recent years, the Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce has sponsored a forum for candidates running for the City of Oconto Council/Committee of the Whole. 

Due to Covid-19, we feel that an in-person forum will not work this year. So, we asked each candidate to answer the following questions in 25 words or less for each  response.

  1. What are Oconto’s greatest weaknesses in being able to attract visitors?

JEAN FELDT- Shopping is limited. Covid hasn’t helped.

TINA FRYE- No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN–  Although our summer recreation options in this beautiful community are plentiful, Oconto is limited in recreational offerings for visitors during the winter months. 

JOHN REED – I believe the image that is portrayed on social media hurts Oconto. 

                                            Would like to focus on changing Oconto’s image.

  1. If you could focus only on 3 things on the Oconto City agenda in the next 3 years, what would they be? 

JEAN FELDT- Economic development, Tourism, Historic Preservation/Technology

TINA FRYE– No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN– Improving the safety and quality of our sidewalks, encouraging new businesses to improve our economy, and finding winter recreation options to appeal to visitors year-round.  
JOHN REED- Safety of the citizens, employees, businesses and visitors.  Focus on making Oconto a place where the citizens, employees , and  businesses are proud to be part of. Education for myself on what my roles and responsibilities are as a council member. Education of the citizens on the process of getting their  concerns addressed.

  1. What was the greatest “team” accomplishment in your life and how can this benefit you as a council member?

JEAN FELDT- Rolling out the first huge collaborative project during my Kraft Foods years. The excitement of launching and watching takeoff of a new product or service with a team is rewarding. 

Understanding innovation and team dynamics including working with and appreciating people who possess very different strengths and weaknesses and styles of getting things done is critical to success of the whole. 

Everyone brings perspective which we cannot see on our own.

TINA FRYE – No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN- My greatest team accomplishment has been serving on the Oconto City Council and being able to help support the needs and growth of this community.
JOHN REED – I was part of several unique rescue missions where critical thinking and  team effort was required to perform a quick and positive outcome. 

  1. Do you think we should further develop the downtown area of Oconto or concentrate on developing Business 41? Why would you choose?

JEAN FELDT- Oconto is not a huge city and development of both areas will need to happen.

TINA FRYE – No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN- The downtown area of Oconto is thriving compared to Business 41. We should concentrate on filling the vacant businesses on the south side. 

JOHN REED –I believe we should concentrate on doing what we can to develop all of  Oconto.

  1. What can be done to improve the look of the City of Oconto? Which sections of the City especially need to be revitalized?

JEAN FELDT- The city has made great strides in encouraging the residences and businesses to spruce things up. The Chamber’s Rose Award has honored many residents and businesses for rehabilitating old properties and making them glorious once again. The Troy Fonder project on Pecor Street is an excellent example of what can be done in our historic community. Supporting Troy and others as they take on these challenging projects have the power to preserve our history for generations to come.  

TINA FRYE – No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN-– Keeping up on ordinances has already improved the look of our neighborhoods. Fixing sidewalks would also improve the appearance and safety for our citizens.
JOHN REED –I believe we should concentrate on revitalizing all the areas of Oconto if  needed. Will help instill pride in our community.

  1. What additional services can be provided for our aging population?

JEAN FELDT- House Calls – Home healthcare visits that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Help with life tasks top to bottom including personal care, home and property upkeep and maintenance. Tech support including helping to recommend, procure and set up tech solutions that make life easier.  Culture at home. Live performances, art lessons. Establish a buddy program, adopt a grandma, grandpa.

TINA FRYE – No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN- Improving the number of full-time EMS staff available, as Chief Bostedt has started to do, to decrease response times for emergencies.
JOHN REED –I believe we need a non-medical transportation service to help our elders 24 hours a day , seven days a week.

  1. What is the City of Oconto’s biggest challenge and how do you propose to address it?

JEAN FELDT- Growing our local economy. Continue to support the improvements the city is working towards including our school system. Our kids are in need of a YES vote on the school referendum.

TINA FRYE – No response

WELEY MARKUSEN- Drug-related issues are a big challenge in Oconto. Increasing resources and technology for the police as well as community rehabilitation programs can address it.  
JOHN W REED –Instilling pride by trying to promote more community member involvement and listen to their concerns. Address the issues  that can be done, fairly and consistently.      

  1. What are your top priorities to ensure that the businesses in Oconto continue to grow?

JEAN FELDT- Shop local everyone, whenever you can. Reward those who shop local. Create incentives to shop local. Attract and welcome new businesses to Oconto.  

TINA FRYE – No response

WESSLEY MARKUSEN- My priorities include researching options to fill our vacant businesses, supporting the Chamber of Commerce’s advertising efforts, 

and frequenting local businesses myself.
JOHN W REED –Promote the change of Oconto’s image to get more visitors within our community .

  1. What is the most surprising thing you have learned in your life?

JEAN FELDT- That life is so much shorter than you think it’s going to be when you’re young. To be the last of my immediate family (Mom, Dad and sibling) was not something I ever imagined. Don’t wait to live your best life. 

TINA FRYE –No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN- I have learned how gratifying and fulfilling it is to serve my community and speak up for the needs of my fellow citizens.
JOHN W REED –The damage that social media and people can do with stories or comments in today’s society, and doing so without fully understanding the situation.

  1. We know The City of Oconto has limited spending capacity—are there certain city departments in which you envision investing more resources? Are there City Departments where you envision spending less resources?

JEAN FELDT- Are there certain city departments in which you envision investing more resources?

Technology to connect with residents, businesses and potential new residents, visitors. 

Are there City Departments where you envision spending less resources? 

Having been through the budgeting process 8 times, I can vouch for the fact that the budget is run as tightly as possible. 

We are fortunate to have an extremely exceptional and talented city administrator  who has used her skills as a CPA to turn our finances around during her tenure. Important to note also is that our departments are constantly researching grant opportunities and other opportunities to source revenue to ease the burden on tax payers.

TINA FRYE – No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN- I would like to invest more resources in the Parks and Recreation department to improve winter recreation options.

 I would prefer not to take funds away from any other department, and instead focus on seeking grants and other funding sources so we aren’t robbing Peter to pay Paul.
JOHN W REED –The department heads do a great job with their respective budgets, and do so with creative ways of saving money. Allow them to do their jobs.

  1.  In your estimation, has reducing the number of council members from 10-6 improved or hindered the progress of the City Council?

JEAN FELDT- Helped. We get things done.

TINA FRYE – No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN– I don’t have any personal knowledge of how the council functioned with 10. However, I feel 6 representatives is sufficient for the size of Oconto.

JOHN W REED- I believe we should have at least 8 council members. This would allow the recreation of necessary committees that have been removed.

  1. Please summarize with 3 things why you are the best candidate to be a new or continuing Council member.

JEAN FELDT- I am committed to this town, its people and its treasures. Continuing to represent and support the goals and dreams of Oconto residents would be a great honor. 

TINA FRYE – No response

WESLEY MARKUSEN- I am understanding of our community’s needs, I judge issues based on facts, not personal opinions, and I rely on common sense. 

JOHN W REED-I don’t believe I’m better than any of the candidates. I believe I have something to offer to promote the best interests of Oconto.