Spring Election to elect City of Merrill Alderpersons, decide makeup of City Council


In advance of next week’s Spring Election on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, as a public service, we offered each of the candidates who will be on that ballot the opportunity to share a little information about themselves and their reasons for running for office.
All eight positions for Alderpersons in the City of Merrill are up for election, and Tuesday’s election will determine the makeup of the new Merrill City Council, although it will be an uncontested race in five of the City’s eight Districts.
NOTE: Not all candidates responded. Those candidates that did respond have their responses to the questionnaire printed here. Candidates comments and reasons for running are their own personal opinions and not a factual article composed by this newspaper. No candidate or candidate’s statement has been endorsed by the Merrill Foto News. We hope this will help voters formulate their own opinions when making decisions about which candidate they will vote for.

City of Merrill District 1: William (Bill) Bialecki vs. Andrew Caylor

Bill Bialecki.

Name: Bill Bialecki

Age: 78

Family: Wife Judy, seven grown children, two step-children, four grandchildren

Employment/position: Retired Master Electrician, Retired Commercial Electrical Inspector, Retired Director of Lincoln County Economic Development Corporation

Past or present elected offices held, dates served: Merrill City Council 2000-2002, Merrill Mayor 2010-2018, Lincoln County Board 2015- present

Membership in religious, service, fraternal, etc., clubs or organizations, and offices held, dates served: 56-year member of VFW Post 1638 past Post Commander, 6 years U.S. Army (3 tours Vietnam), 1 year Wisconsin National Guard, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (retired), Member Merrill Optimists, Member St. Francis Parish, 28-year member Lincoln County Sports Club (11 years as president), Ducks Unlimited 45-year member of local fundraising committee (27 years chairman)

Why have you chosen to run for the office you seek: “To help facilitate continued economic development in our City, help with expansion of the City’s tax base, work towards developing more affordable housing, address childcare needs in the community, and work with the County Broadband Commission to address broadband expansion.”

Andrew Caylor.

Name: Andrew Caylor

Age: 31

Family: Single

Employment/position: Merrill Area Public Schools – Technology Systems Administrator

Past or present elected offices held, dates served: N/A

Membership in religious, service, fraternal, etc. clubs or organizations, and offices held, dates served: Member of the Merrill Lions and Eagle’s Club along with president of the Merrill Freemasons Lodge 1/1/2023 to present.

Why have you chosen to run for the office you seek: “With a family dedicated to service to the City of Merrill, I have followed local government my whole life, including years of watching how things work (and don’t work) while with Merrill Productions in high school. I have experience with budgets, state funding, and grants with my current role at the school district.”
“Our city offers many great things, from a beautiful and accessible park system, to public transportation, utility services, police and fire protection, and so much more. I also know as a property owner how much those amenities cost us each year, and I know what a struggle it can be for some of our residents to keep up with their own bills while also supporting the City, the County, and the school district spending.”
“Years of unchecked spending have left the City in a position where borrowing against the future is no longer an option. One of my goals is to open dialogue between the City, the County, and MAPS to see where we can work together to try and save tax dollars while still making Merrill a desirable place to live.”
“So many young people leave Merrill as soon as they graduate, and that brain drain hurts us in so many ways. Merrill needs to be a place they want to stay, with better paying jobs, more housing options, and recreation and entertainment options. The population drop we have seen in the last 20 years affects all of us and cannot continue. The years of doing things as they have always been done no longer works. It is time for the younger generations to get involved, moving Merrill in a direction that reflects our needs and priorities. We have such a great history here, and I want to help build a future we can afford and enjoy.”

City of Merrill District 2: Michael “Gus” Caylor (incumbent) (uncontested)

City of Merrill District 3: Nathan Meyer (appointed in July 2023 to fulfill the unexpired term of Rick Blake on the Council) (uncontested)

City of Merrill District 4: LaDonna Fermanich (incumbent) (uncontested)

City of Merrill District 5: Robert “Bob” Lass (uncontested)

City of Merrill District 6: Mike Rick Jr. (incumbent) (uncontested)

City of Merrill District 7: Mark Weix Jr. (incumbent) vs. Nicole Trumblay

Nicole Trumblay.

Name: Nicole Trumblay

Age: 31

Family: I have a loving boyfriend and two amazing doberman pinschers, Karma and Kadalee, who are my world.

Employment/position: I am self-employed as an esthetician. I own Lueur Aesthetics LCC (Loo-air).

Past or present elected offices held, dates served:

Membership in religious, service, fraternal, etc., clubs or organizations, and offices held, dates served: I am a baptized, confirmed Christian. In grade school I was involved in many different sports and clubs. I was president of the Cosmetology Club when I attended Nicolet Technical College to obtain my degree. While attending Nicolet, we organized a hygiene drive and collected personal hygiene products. We then taught the grade school students how to use them. I have volunteered for a few different golf outing charity events also.

Why have you chosen to run for the office you seek: “We need change. As a business owner I have grown tired of the same way we have always ‘done it,’ because obviously, in many areas that isn’t working. I also would like to look at the spending that goes on with our budgets; some work is being done there, but we need to seriously look at real cuts in order to protect our key city functions such as police and fire.”

City of Merrill District 8: Rebecca Rutkowski vs. Renea Frederick

Rebecca Rutkowski.

Name: Rebecca Rutkowski

Age: 38

Family: Married. My husband and I live on Lake Street, a couple blocks from where I grew up.

Employment/position: I work at United Healthcare as an account manager.

Past or present elected offices held, dates served: I have served on the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Ad Hoc Committee for the City Administrator position, and I attended the Fire Department’s strategic planning sessions. I am currently serving on the Redevelopment Authority and Park and Recreation Board. The Redevelopment Authority makes crucial decisions about the future and growth of the City. I feel I make informed decisions, while being budget conscious and supporting local business.

Membership in religious, service, fraternal, etc., clubs or organizations, and offices held, dates served:

Why have you chosen to run for the office you seek: “I feel I would be an asset to our City Council as I am a regular taxpayer. I am not a politician and I feel the questions I ask or concerns that I have would mirror a lot of yours. If elected and you have a concern, let me know and I will help address it or get an answer to you on your question. I feel I am able to listen to all of the information presented and perspectives before making a decision. I think that everyone should have a voice in how their councilperson votes, as they are voting on issues that affect all of us. District 8 is in desperate need of some street repaving and water and sewer upgrades. I also feel we should learn from what has not worked in the past to improve the future and be open to change. I support transparency in our City government. I really care about this community and want to keep making it a better place to live and raise families in. Thank you for your time and please vote April 2 at the Lincoln County Service Center.”
“As indicated above, I serve on the Park and Recreation Board. The Park and Recreation Board is also important, as our parks and recreational activities are a huge part of Merrill’s history and hopefully our future. We are very blessed to have all of our great recreation. From the Riverbend Trail to the MARC, the Underdown, Ice age Trail, the City Forest, our lakes and rivers, to all the sporting activities. I would love to see the Riverbend Trail connect to Marathon County one day. I love to fish and also to ride my bike or walk through our parks. I support public safety, as we all deserve to live in a safe community. Childcare options are also very important. While I will fight to improve these areas of our community, I will also keep the tax dollar in mind.”
“Thank you for your time and please vote April 2 at the Lincoln County Service Center.”

Renea Frederick.

Name: Renea Frederick

Age: Old enough

Family: Married to Todd Frederick, son: Tyler Frederick, daughter-in-law: Annette Frederick, granddaughter: Lily Frederick

Employment/position: Co-owner of FreMarq Innovations Inc. and Prairie River Properties, LLC.

Past or present elected offices held, dates served: Merrill School Board 2006-2009

Membership in religious, service, fraternal, etc., clubs or organizations, and offices held, dates served: People for Pine Crest, March 2023 to present, Aware & Active Citizens – Treasurer, 2020 to present; Merrill Foundation and Merrill Community Foundation – Treasurer and President, 2016-2023; UW Marathon Foundation, President 2006-2012; Merrill Chamber; Maple Grove PTO.

Why have you chosen to run for the office you seek: “I chose to run for office because Merrill should be thriving not just surviving. The City of Merrill has great assets, such as the location to the freeway, the rivers, school system, and its people. I would like to use my experience in building businesses from scratch, repurposing abandoned buildings, and working with folks such as the SBA, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and banks to develop programs to grow Merrill’s entrepreneurs and small businesses. This will bring people to Merrill for these opportunities. These small businesses, owners, and entrepreneurs will fill our downtowns. They will fill our business park. They will grow Merrill’s tax base. It will bring other businesses here to support them. Merrill will be thriving not just surviving. Merrill was built by entrepreneurs; I would like to see history repeated.”

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