City Council Candidate Responses
1. Please provide some personal background information.
Name: Steven L. Herman;
Occupation: Retired Sheriff’s Deputy;
List any community activities you are involved with: I have served on the City Council for 4 two year terms. During this time I have been appointed Deputy Mayor three times from within the Council. I have served on the Traffic Review Board, Parking Utility Board, Bike Pedestrian Board, Parks Board, Convention and Visitors Board. I serve on the ReThink Active Communities Board. Member of the Snitz Club, Sons of the American Legion.
Lori Palmeri: Background Information for Candidate – Lori Palmeri, Consultant at Self Employed – Palmeri and Associates Planning Support – providing planning support to non-profits and small business in the Upper Midwest. Also employed by the Oshkosh Area School District as a part time substitute for K-12. She also has a hobby business reclaiming and restoring wood/leather furniture.
Caroline Panske: My name is Caroline Panske. I am currently (and have been since November 2004) employed at Oaks Candy, Inc. I serve as the Chairwoman of the Oshkosh Transit Advisory Board, I also serve on the Bike and Pedestrian Committee and the Art and Beautification Committee.
Customer Service Team Lead – 4imprint, since 2006
And a local small business owner
List any community activities you are involved with:
- City of Oshkosh Rental Housing Advisory Board, Chairperson
- City of Oshkosh Long Range Finance Committee, Board Member
- Youth Sports Coach
- Oshkosh Youth Soccer Club 2014-2018
- Oshkosh Fast Club Softball 2017-2018
- Oshkosh West Basketball Club 2018
- Oshkosh Mid-Morning Kiwanis
- Member of the OASD Recreation Department Softball Commission since 2007 (3x President, 2x Vice President)
2. Why do you want to be on the city council?
Steve Herman: I feel that I bring experience to the Council. Having been involved in Public Service my whole professional career I feel I understand the needs and demands that Oshkosh and the surrounding area. I feel that I listen to the facts on issues that come in front of Council and I make a decision that I believe is in the best interest of the citizens and the city. I make myself available by attending many public functions, when I am contacted by phone or Email, I respond with the appropriate response as soon I can. I think that I have represented the City and its citizens with respect and dignity and have helped move Oshkosh forward.
Lori Palmeri: I have been asked by community members to seek re-election to continue efforts that I have initiated and supported over the first term. While it has been a challenging two years, there have been encouraging moments of positive change. However, the Council continues to evolve and needs continued servant leadership, with ego put aside. If the Council were to vote “Yes” on everything, there would be no need for Council review and decision making. While positive support on some issues is needed, there are times when filters and selective screening out of other matters is equally necessary.
Caroline Panske: I am seeking re-election to the Common Council. If elected, this would be 3rd term. My motivation for running at this time is simple. I am enjoying what I am doing, and I’m doing a great job! The momentum this city has gained in the past few years in undeniable and I am not ready to walk away from the dias at this time.
Matt Mugerauer: I believe in my community. Oshkosh is a great place to raise a family, work and invest in. And I believe we have what it takes to continue to make Oshkosh a better place to live, work and play. I can be a voice of reason and common sense for the citizens of Oshkosh. And I would bring a high level of personal integrity and accountability to council.
We need council members who will ask questions, listen, seek out minority opinions and then make the best decisions for the entire community. That is what I will do as City of Oshkosh Common Council Member.
3. What specific issues will be your area of primary focus?
Steve Herman: Making sure that our last two TIF District are developed well. Oshkosh Corps TIF and Oshkosh Ave TIF. I think this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I want to see both of them move forward. More development in the Sawdust District. Build on the development of the Arena and see what we can do to build on it. Aviation Industrial Park, once the County gets the taxi way in I think development will follow. TRANS Load facility. Work to develop the growth in that part of the industrial park. The city owns to much land, we need not only to focus on business and job retention; we need to focus on business expansion and bring in new businesses to the area that will provide sustainable living wages and benefits.
Lori Palmeri: There are no specific issues that an at large Councilmember can devote their attention to. However, there are multiple areas of focus I have an affinity for. Those include family supporting wage jobs, not just adding service sector minimum wage employment. Affordable and safe housing is a critical area the community has to act on, along with strong interest in transportation equity among auto, bike, pedestrian, and transit.
Caroline Panske: An area of prime concern for me will continue to be OshCorp and the Lakeshore area. As I have stated, I truly believe that we need to put initial focus on getting this global headquarters tucked into bed and comfortable. Then we should proceed with the remainder. I am a proponent of listening to citizens and still believe that there is more input they can provide and really solidify this area of Oshkosh as a true gem.
Oshkosh must continue to grow. If we are not growing, we are dying. We cannot afford to stop or even slow the progress we have achieved. I am excited for where we are and where we can go economically. There are many positive economic indicators in employment/unemployment, residential and commercial real estate and local investment in Oshkosh.
Budget and Finances
We have to continue to refine how we budget and finance our operations and capital programs. We have to lead in a fiscally responsible manner, while maintaining the economic growth we have achieved, and doing so with less state aid and limited property tax revenues. It takes making sound, well informed decisions.
Annual revisions to and refining of our strategic plan are essential to being able to respond to important and time sensitive economic opportunities. The strategic plan shapes and guides the actions of council and staff. Everything they are working towards is defined in the plan.
Community Relations and Communication
Improved relations between city staff, residents and the business community is what will position us best for the future. I will work to improve and build upon the relationships we have with our service organizations, businesses and industries. This city’s best asset is its people. The people who own businesses, work here, live here, are raising families and growing roots here. They are what makes Oshkosh great.
Special Events Policy
The special events policy and fee scheduled that was implemented in 2017 is a problem for this community. The fee structure is too high, and will have a negative impact on events held in Oshkosh. We are Wisconsin’s Event City. We should be able to find a reasonable way to protect the taxpayer, address the true cost of resources provided by the city, while also realizing the benefit that so many of these events provide for the community as a whole.
4. Please outline what you consider to be the City of Oshkosh’s 3 – 5 most critical issues.
- Debt: we continue to play catch up with our deteriorating infrastructure from years of neglect. We need to figure out better how we can replace the infrastructure and let not always put it on the back of the taxpayers and businesses in Oshkosh. We have done a good job reducing our debt the last few years, but we need to take a deeper look at the overall process.
- Housing: we need to continue to look at single family housing issues. We have plenty of blighted areas in our neighborhoods. What is the strategy to develop them? Is it to tear some of it down, or help to refurbish them, we need to figure out the best option to make housing affordable in the city for those who want to rent and to those who want to own.
- Develop a growth plan: We have agreements with our bordering townships, but we need to develop a plan on how we grow the city. We cannot just annex land unless a plan is in place on how to handle that expansion. Will we need more police and fire personal? Do we have the infra structure to handle it. Can the schools handle the influx of potential new growth? Transportation issues, not only streets but public transportation, will that handle expected demands. Whenever a community expands it may put a strain on the services that need to be provided in those areas.
Lori Palmeri: In addition to the areas of concern above, I also see a continued need for improvement in timely and accurate information coming from City Hall.
Caroline Panske: 1) lack of clear and available information. As council we are still asking for more information, as a citizen I still find it difficult to find pertinent information on the city website. This needs to be changed and as a current council member, we are.
2) communication still proves to be a challenge. We just haven’t found an end all be all way of getting correct information out to the masses
3) Pioneer Inn (still sits, another 4 years since I have been elected) I need to see something happen!
4) Council should be members of the Chamber. Period.
- Residential Housing
The City of Oshkosh has a lack of available new construction single family housing. While we have seen development of multi-unit apartment complexes, availability of higher end market rate apartments and new construction of single family homes has lagged behind. To be able to attract and retain talent that comes to the area to work, we must have desirable housing the meets the needs of the community.
- Debt and Aging Infrastructure
The City of Oshkosh still carries a significant amount of long term debt, which has an effect on our ability to replace our aging infrastructure. To their credit, the city is on a path to reducing our long term debt. Our goal must be to find a way to replace more of the aging infrastructure, without increasing our debt or significantly affecting other vital programs.
There is still a communication disconnect between city hall and the citizens of Oshkosh. Concerns fall upon deaf ears at times, messages are not properly conveyed to the citizens or groups that need the information most. Timely and accurate information is essential to a well informed electorate. While I know being able to reach every person all the time is not an attainable goal, it should still be our goal.
- Homelessness, underserved and less fortunate
As a community we need to come together and find a way to combat the homelessness. With multiple agencies and groups supporting different segments of the underserved and less fortunate in Oshkosh, we have to coordinate those resources, and find a way to provide long term assistance to those that need it most, while also addressing their short-term needs.
5. Is there something that the City of Oshkosh is not presently doing that you believe will significantly improve the quality of life and strengthens the local economy? What is that and why do you believe it to be desirable?
Steve Herman: If you look at the goals that the Council has put forward for the City Manager and Staff to work on I think will significantly have an impact on quality of life and the economy. A) A comprehensive look at City owned facilities, will they meet our needs 5-10-15 years from now. If not what is the process to plan for the future. B) Personal, where are we weak and where are we to top heavy. As I mentioned earlier, if the City Continues to grow what are the service needs in police, fire, public works, transit etc. C) Work with staff to do a current inventory of the city owned Industrial land. What is the status of the land is it shovels ready? How many sites do we have? Work with staff, GO EDC, Realtors, and the Chamber to develop an aggressive marketing plan to bring in more companies and to work on business expansion. D) Work to update our current housing stock and the assessment of that stock. Identify areas of the city for neighborhood revitalization. Meaning are there blocks we should be buying, rehabbing the block or if need be completely tear down what needs to be done to develop the area. Then work with staff to put a RFP together to complete this project.
Lori Palmeri: The question of what can the City of Oshkosh do to significantly improve quality of life and strengthening local economy is not simply answered by a magic bullet single effort. The City of Oshkosh does not operate in a vacuum, meaning it takes all the moving parts of the community to partner and engage. With that said, there are a number of areas that could go a long way towards improving quality of life not just for a few, but for many. Inclusion of those individuals that have been overlooked, I believe can both strengthen the economy and quality of life.
Caroline Panske: I hinted at the lack of information and communication above. These are issues that have an enormous impact on quality of life here in Oshkosh. Take a platform like Facebook for example. You see all these rumors and you can sense the mistrust…and that’s what people use as a primary source of reliable information and it’s difficult to battle that. I believe we can be more active in social media and start to lead these conversations instead of correcting them at a later time.
Matt Mugerauer: Oshkosh Corporation choosing to stay in Oshkosh and build its new corporate headquarters has revived the talent attraction and retention discussion. With a strong jobs market, businesses are competing for talent like never before. They City of Oshkosh, UW-Oshkosh, Oshkosh Area School District, Fox Valley Technical College, Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce and GO-EDC all need to work together to ensure Oshkosh is a talent destination. A talented diverse workforce is key to survival in a local and global market. While these groups are individually doing what they can, a strong community strategic plan will help pool resources and expertise.
Ensuring we are an accepting and open community, increased community engagement, and hosting a variety of cultural, artistic and family friendly events will continue to improve our quality of life.
6. How will city government improve or be strengthened as a result of the leadership, drive, energy and vision that you bring to the city council?
Steve Herman: As previously stated I have been on Council and finishing my 4th term. I feel I bring leadership and dedication to the Council and its citizens. I have been a Council member that the business community and citizens can talk to. I feel I am open-minded and have the city’s best interests at heart. I feel that the cities strategic plan gives good vision for the council and staff to continue to put Oshkosh on the map as a competitive community to live, work and play.
Lori Palmeri: City of Oshkosh government improvement occurs when held accountable through having the courage to raise the expectation of staff and programming, as well as citizens in the community. My vision for this next Council is to improve its communication and modeling the way to effect change in an adult manner.
Caroline Panske: I honestly believe the council has improved since I took my seat up there in city hall. I’m pretty common sense, I ask straightforward questions, of staff and community stakeholders, I’m accountable and available. I attend! In my 4 years, I have missed 3 meeting, total. (I was out of the country in fact, but available via phone and email) Most importantly, I listen. I encourage and support any voice that has the courage to speak up…and will proudly continue to support more and more public input. After all, this is OUR town!
Please vote April 3rd. For more information on you polling location , hours and what you need to bring with you, please visit http://www.ci.oshkosh.wi.us/city_clerk/elections.asp
Matt Mugerauer: I believe in this community and know we have a great future ahead of us. I set myself apart with my willingness to seek out information and opinions. My willingness to be a voice of reason and common sense for the citizens of Oshkosh. I would also bring a high level of personal integrity and accountability to council. Finally, I make this promise to the citizens of Oshkosh. Every single vote I make as a council member will always be for what is in the best interests of this community -the entire community.