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Schaefer has served for four decades

Schaefer (click for larger version)
March 04, 2014 | 02:23 PM
ELKHORN — Joe Schaefer is the longest serving member on the county board, first elected in 1974.

On April 1, he hopes voters will re-elect him to another term. Schaefer said he is seeking re-election because he loves Walworth County and is loyal to it.

“We have it all here, industry, agriculture and tourism,” he said.

He is running for re-election against Ben Bourdo, town of Troy.

The county’s second district represents the towns of LaFayette, Spring Prairie, all but one ward in the town of Lyons, all but one ward in the town of Troy and a ward in the city of Burlington.

Schaefer comes from a long lineage of county board members. His father served on the Walworth County Board for 20 years and his grandfather served on the board for 28 years.

“I’m not sure if I’m the longest serving board member in the state,” Schaefer said. “I still feel I’m young, even at 70.”


A controversial issue in Walworth County is whether the county should take over restaurant inspections from the state. Schaefer, who has owned the Ye Olde Hotel Bar & Restaurant in Lyons for 45 years, strongly opposes this plan.

He said the state does a good job in inspecting restaurants and the county doesn’t need to take it over.

“In the end, no doubt, it will cause an increase in fees,” Schaefer said.

He also supported purchasing parkland in the town of Lyons. On Monday the county closed on 196 acres of land at the intersection of Sheridan Springs and Short roads.

Schaefer said compared to other counties, Walworth County has significantly less parkland.

During the budget process, Schaefer was in the small minority of supervisors who supported District Attorney Daniel Necci’s attempt to add a assistant district attorney to his staff.

The state normally pays for prosecutors. However, Necci asked the county to foot the bill for 18 months. Necci’s pitch was that he would convince the state to fund one more prosecutor in the long-term to handle a larger case load.

“I voted for it, but I was shut down pretty heavily,” Schaefer said. “If you have the volume you should take care of it.”

Schaefer said he was originally opposed to down-sizing the county board. However, it ended up working for the better, he said.

He speaks in high-regard about his peers on the board, County Administrator David Bretl and the department heads who run the county.

Schaefer also added that he likes working with the current board, and he thinks it works well together.

He said during his tenure on the board, he has watched a lot of supervisors come and go.

He said he is not much for political grandstanding, something he has witnessed throughout the years.

“I have seen supervisors come and go,” he said. “They will pass a resolution, for the good or the bad, and then they are gone.”

Schaefer is also proud that a county highway is named after him.

County Highway JS is located near the Burlington bypass by Chestnut Street.


Tags: County Report

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