Meet the candidates-Merrill Common Council 1st District Alderman Primary
On Tuesday, Feb. 18, some City of Merrill voters will be asked to decide on two of three candidates vying for the 1st Aldermanic District seat, on the Merrill Common Council.
Incumbent Paul Russell will face challengers Becky Meyer and Gary Broesch. Those who are successful in the primary will move on to square of in the spring general election on Tuesday, April 7.
Meyer challenged Russell during the July recall election, but fell short 91-150.
Full Name: Paul Russell (Incumbent)
Family (spouse, children, grandchildren): Engaged to Alliesion Barden, 2 sons Nick and Ian.
Employment/position: Developer – Merrill Building Dreams and Opportunities Inc. and Retired Military – US Army/National Guard Enlisted and Officer, 31 years of service.
Past or present elected ofﬁces held, dates served: 1st District Alderperson April 2016 to present; Current President Lincoln County Fair Board 2018 – present; City of Merrill Police and Fire Commission – 2018 to present; Current Chair and past member City Personnel and Finance Committee – 2017 to present; Merrill Enrichment Center Committee – 2018 to present; Merrill Community Development Committee -2019 to present; Past chair and member Merrill Health and Safety Committee 2016-2019; Merrill Historic Preservation Committee 2016 to present; past member Merrill Festival Grounds Committee – 2016-2018; State Military Officers Association Legislative Committee Chair and member 1998-2007.
Membership in religious, service, fraternal, etc., clubs or organizations, and ofﬁces held, dates served:
Veterans of Foreign Wars VFW 2008-present; Chairman of board Northwoods Veterans Post – 2016 to the present; American Legion – 2019 to present; Merrill Eagles Club – 2016 to present; Merrill Historical Society 2015-present; Merrill Silver M – 2007 to present; Merrill Chapter Ducks Unlimited – 2009 to present; Vice-President (M.A.C.R) Merrill Area Community Rides Charity, Wisconsin Military Officers Association – 1985-present, member of Saint Francis and Trinity churches.
Why have you chosen to run for the District 1 Aldermanic seat: “To continue serving the residents in the first ward and to lead the city Common Council down a path of continuous improvement for the good and betterment of Merrill.
“Any well run organization, be it private, public, government or volunteer, requires experienced and strong leadership to be effective. In the case of our city government, that leadership requirement falls to our City Council. In the 1st District, I am best prepared, most experienced in management and tested in leadership. As a career military officer I accumulated the kind of experience and developed the type of leadership skills required to make solid plans, set in place the required resources and drive the desired results within the limitations of time and budget. Solid, clear and understandable plans, efficient use of limited resources and the dedication to get to desired results is what I will continue to bring to the council if re-elected.
“As chair of the Personnel and Finance Committee, I dealt directly with the 2018 debacle of misrepresented and misunderstood tax levies. Staff responsible for the unfortunate faux pas, including miscommunication of projected overall rates of increase, were counseled on the City Council’s expectation for their performance going forward, and guided to improvement plans that would serve their citizen bosses significantly better. That is an example of experienced leadership, and my service for the last 4 plus years in this community make me best qualified for the job.
“I also recognize that just saying taxes will not go up, might work for one year. But to assure our community that maintaining an effective budget which delivers required and desired services, while holding taxes to a minimum, if any increases, takes a plan. Asking citizens which services they want abandoned, doesn’t equate to a plan. That plan has to balance highly cost-effective city operations, support to local businesses of all types, along with measured incentives which promote growth instead of paying for it. The October, 2019 S&P Global Ratings report downgrading the City’s credit rating is the result of “paying for growth” for ten years instead of a laser focus on promoting it and judicious use of tax incremental financing .
“I have the experience to lead our Common Council to require measurable performance from the City’s staff. I know only a daily focus on “continuous improvement” can pare back tax increase pressures and at the same time improve life for all of us in the larger community. I love living in the district I grew up in and am proud to serve it’s residents. I ask for your continued support on February 18, 2020.
Full Name: Gary Broesch (Challenger)
Family (spouse, children, grandchildren): I am married to my wife and best friend Lori. Three awesome children Jake, Jordan and Dani
Employment/position: I am employed at Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. for 15 years where I am the Manager of the Learning and Development Department. I am a Prosci Certified Change Management Practioner and an Adjunct instructor at NorthCentral Technical College. I maintain a Wisconsin Intermediary license in Property, Casualty, Life and Health Insurance. I also serve as a mentor and positive role model for the Women’s Leadership Initiative.
Membership in religious, service, fraternal, etc., clubs or organizations, and ofﬁces held:
Merrill Area Public School Board member 1995-1996
Merrill Adult Diploma Academy Board of Governance 2015 – present.
Active community member for the Merrill Area Public School Strategic Planning Committee 2016-present.
Member of Toastmasters International.
Member of Association for Training and Development
Why have you chosen to run for the District 1 Aldermanic seat:
“Why have I chosen to run for District 1 Aldermanic Seat? The answer is simple. The residents and businesses of Merrill Wisconsin deserve better. Having grown up in the Milwaukee area, graduated from UW-Whitewater, and traveled across the great state of Wisconsin, I am proud to call Merrill my home for the past 27 years. Merrill is a great place to live, work and play. We need to promote the community in a positive light. I believe there is a lot of potential for the City of Merrill, but we can’t just talk about it, we need to act on it.
I support the City’s strategic plan which was developed with input from the city, business and community members:
• I support continued growth in Merrill by exploring innovative ways to attract or start up new businesses with good paying jobs. Merrill needs to increase tax base by promoting a business-friendly environment to attract new business and expand existing businesses.
• We need to explore innovative ways to attract people to Merrill to fill these new jobs. We need to promote the city as a great place to live, work and play. Expand new housing developments and neighborhoods.
• I will focus on improving communication between the City and the community so that we all have a voice and a sense of belonging. We all have great ideas, let’s explore them together. Be bold and empower innovation to bring a sense of excitement to our community.
• Finally, current taxes and services need to be reviewed. Is the community able to support the services that are being offered? We need to explore ways to reduce our debt structure and ongoing expenses. Raising taxes on our families year after year is not the answer.
“I tend to be strategic in my thinking rather than resting on status quo because we have always done it that way. I look at issues and think of the impacts to the people and businesses of this great community. Today, we don’t need experience on the City Council. We need leaders that can bring this community together with new and innovative ideas for the future. With your vote, I will be that leader. We are in this together. We all need to ask ourselves, what can I do to make Merrill a better place. Merrill is our home. We deserve better.
“I want to partner with you to lead this community to a better tomorrow. Do you want a community that takes pride in what we do? Do you want a community that respects each other for our differences? Do you want a community that works together to solve problems? Do you want your City Council to listen to your concerns and explore solutions? Do you feel you deserve better leadership in the City? If so, I need your help. Feel empowered to create a better tomorrow by voting Broesch on February 18th.
“Together, we can make it happen. I ask for your vote on February 18th.”
Full Name: Becky J. Meyer (Challenger)
Family (spouse, children, grandchildren): Dan (Nav) & Jean Meyer my rescue dog Olive.
Employment/position: Premium Audit Specialist with Church Mutual Insurance Company S.I.
Past or present elected ofﬁces held, dates served: Congregational Secretary of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church -currently serving; President of Merrill Special Olympics Booster Club-currently serving.
Why have you chosen to run for the District 1 Aldermanic seat:
“I have been a part of the Merrill community all my life. I moved back into the city a couple of years ago. I started to observe city meetings and realized the citizens of Merrill needed a voice. I would like to be that voice.
“In the time that I have listened to the meetings I have seen the disconnect within our city. I would like to assist in building the bridge between all points of view that will help achieve a great outcome for the citizens, business owners, city employees, etc. of Merrill.
“Our district needs a strong representative that will stand by their word. Our current alderperson has wavered several times in the last year alone. Stating he would support my candidacy and then in a day’s time change his mind. When leadership opportunities presented to him, he voted against himself. In the February 6th paper he said he was the most qualified and experienced and wants to bring leadership to a team environment. Where has that been the last few years?
“I have talked with district 1 constituents and they continue to tell me their voices are falling on deaf ears. The current alderperson has been absent in our district and it’s time to fill the void. I want to bring a fresh leadership perspective to District 1. Following the voice of my constituents. I ask that you vote for me February 18th and again April 7th. My promise is to listen to the citizens and be present for our district.”