Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Get to know your village trustee candidates
Six seeking two open spots Feb. 7

by Steve Targo

February 02, 2012

A fresh crop of hopefuls want to help steer the new village of Bloomfield in the right direction.

Nine names will appear on the Feb. 7 ballot for the first village election in which voters will select five people to represent them on the new Bloomfield Village Board.

Three of them should be familiar to voters. Longtime town of Bloomfield official Ken Monroe, W1500 Sunset Drive, currently serving as both village president and town chairman, is running unopposed for village president.

Current Bloomfield Town Supervisor William Holder, W920 Green Road, and former supervisor Doug Mushel, N2262 Wilderland Trail, are running unopposed for the two trustee spots which hold two-year terms.

But the other six are newcomers to the arena of local politics.

Gary Grolle, W564 Pell Lake Drive; William Gaede, W915 Violet Road; Rich Olenoski, W1047 Florence Road; Sara Schulz, W1027 Eau Clare Road; Susan Bernstein, W180 Hilltop; and Jodi Kelleher, W990 Pell Lake Drive, are seeking two open trustee spots which hold one-year terms.

It will be an at-large election, meaning the top two vote-getters will become one-year trustees. Voting will occur Feb. 7 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Bloomfield Town Hall, N1100 Town Hall Road.

During separate telephone interviews Jan. 25, Grolle, Gaede, Olenoski and Schulz discussed why they're running, what sets them apart from their challengers and what they want to accomplish if elected. Bernstein and Kelleher discussed these topics Friday during separate interviews.

Candidates touched on issues ranging from the economy to communication to the transition from town to village, including the proposed annexation of the remaining town by the village of Bloomfield.

Following are what the candidates had to say, presented in the order of how their names will appear on the Feb. 7 ballot.

Gary Grolle

Grolle, 67, described himself as "doing real estate brokerage and semi-retired as a full-time attorney." Although he was chairman of the Bloomfield-Genoa City Fire and Rescue Commission in the mid 2000s, he said he has never sought a local political office before.

"I saw this as an opportunity at the ground-floor level to help a new village form and become operational," Grolle said.

He said his background in real estate and law — he also has served as a third-party neutral arbitrator and a mediator — should help. Grolle said he also has been involved in area nonprofit organizations and helped private businesses put in place systems, policies and procedures.

He said he gets things up and running "then, as my wife says, I step aside and let others take the credit."

Grolle said if he's elected, his main goal will be establishing the new village.

"I'd like to see the transition (from town to village) be a smooth one and get operations running smoothly," he said.

Another issue he mentioned was the proposed annexation. "I'd like to see that happen," Grolle said.

He also summed up how he plans to approach the job, if elected.

"I'm coming to the table with a fresh look," Grolle said. "I don't have any grudges, I don't have any single issue."

And if he is elected, don't expect him to stake claim to a long political career.

"I don't see myself serving on the board 15 years from now or anything like that," Grolle said.

William Gaede

Gaede, 52, said he has lived in Bloomfield his whole life. The president of the Pell Lake Sportsmen's Club said people urged him to run and told him they want to see "someone different" on the Village Board.

"I'm kind of well-known around town," Gaede said.

When asked what sets him apart from his challengers, Gaede hesitated a moment, then said, "Nothing really."

"I just want to keep taxes down," he said.

Gaede said he also wants to "get information out."

"There isn't even a map of the (village) around here," he said.

Gaede said if elected, he will go to meetings and "let everybody know what's happening." He said there is never anything in the local newspapers anymore, including police reports.

He also said if people have opinions they want to make known to the Village Board, he will relay them.

"My main goals are to let everybody know what's happening, keep taxes down and be responsible for the community," Gaede said.

Rich Olenoski

As to why he's running, the 71-year-old Pell Lake resident since the 1960s said, "I think we need a change."

Olenoski said he needs to be involved in this new village to see if some changes can be made.

"People keep saying we need a change on the board," he said. "We need some new ideas."

Olenoski said what sets him apart in the race is his community involvement. He is vice president of the Pell Lake Property Owners Association; a member of Modern Woodmen of America; currently on the Bloomfield Parks, Lakes and Recreation Committee; and volunteers at Trinity Church and Star Center Elementary School's WatchDOGS and READS programs.

He said he also volunteers during the annual Bloomfield spring cleanup and has helped build the swing set at Pell Lake Beach. Olenoski also has planted trees in the community and built picnic tables and benches which can be found at parks and beaches around the lake.

He also didn't pass up the chance to plug an upcoming community event.

"We are hoping this summer to have a fundraiser to buy more equipment for the Old Roller Rink Park and (Pell Lake) Beach," Olenoski said.

He said if elected, he wants to bring a bank into the village. Last year, a Talmer branch office closed in Pell Lake.

Olenoski said he also wants to bring in more businesses, "then maybe we could put people to work."

He said he also supports the proposed annexation of the remaining town of Bloomfield, which would make the new village a "full village."

"We have to bring in Tuscany, Ivanhoe and all the other areas that were left out of the incorporation," Olenoski said.

Sara Schulz

At 38, Schulz is the youngest official candidate for one-year trustee.

"I feel I can really make a difference," she said. "We are at an important time in the village (and) I feel I can move this village in the right direction."

Schulz said if elected, she has two main goals.

She said there will be a lot of "behind-the-scenes stuff" required for the new village to become fully functional. "I want to make sure that runs smoothly," Schulz said.

She said prior to incorporation, there were several aspects of life in which town of Bloomfield didn't have complete control, including zoning and land use matters.

"As a village, we have our destiny in our own hands," Schulz said. She added it is important to be flexible when establishing the rules and procedures for the new village.

She said her second goal is to improve communication.

"I want to have better communication within our community," Schulz said. "I'd love to work with the newspapers to put stuff in there about what's going on. I'd love to have a website up so people in our community can see what's going on but also so people outside our community can know what's here."

She said this proposed website could also promote local businesses.

But what makes her right for the job? Schulz said she has been traveling throughout the community, meeting people and discussing issues with them.

"I like to listen," she said. "I feel I'm the mouthpiece for what the community wants (and) I love doing it. I want to have as much open communication as possible."

Susan Bernstein

When asked her age, Bernstein initially said, "No." She chuckled, then asked to be referred to as "a senior citizen." But Bernstein seemed happy to discuss her longtime residency in Bloomfield.

"My house has been in our family for about 55 years," she said.

Bernstein said she's running for trustee because her corner of Bloomfield needs representation.

"In the (subdivision) of Pell Lake, the concentration of the population is much greater (and) there are different issues," she said. "I think all the people need to have a voice. The area outside of Pell Lake hasn't really been represented."

Bernstein said she has attended town board meetings in the area, including those held by the Randall Town Board, and is interested in what's going on and how things happen.

"My intent is to make sure each person's interests and voices are heard," Bernstein said.

She said she enjoys Bloomfield's lakes, is interested in keeping them clean and one of her main goals concerns taxes.

"(I want) to make living easier, instead of a hardship," Bernstein said. "I want to make sure taxes are kept at the lowest possible level."

She said she has another goal.

"We've really had excellent help at the town level and I hope to continue that at the village level," Bernstein said.

Jodi Kelleher

"I've been frankly disgusted with what's going on in politics in general," said Kelleher, 40. "I am really dismayed that politicians don't listen to the people who vote them into office in the first place."

An area postal carrier, Kelleher said she's often the bearer of bad news, delivering foreclosures, final shut-off notices and other correspondences that people who are experiencing financial difficulties don't want to receive.

Kelleher said keeping taxes in check is one of her main goals, if elected.

"I don't want to be voting on anything that's going to cost taxpayers more money because I know people are struggling," she said.

She said everyone lives according to a budget and government should be no different.

"I want to put the residents first," Kelleher said.

She said she also wouldn't vote in favor of ordinances "to make people's lives harder."

She said sometimes the minority may have the loudest voice on an issue, "but that doesn't mean they should always get their way," especially if it doesn't benefit the rest of the village.

Kelleher also spoke in favor of creating a village website.

"Right now, there is no functional website (but) that is something I can do because I have website development skills," she said.

According to Kelleher, there is nothing online listing hours of operation for municipal services or e-mail addresses or other contact information for Bloomfield officials.

"A lot of this stuff can be put online," she said.

Kelleher said she will listen to people and their complaints, she is willing to work with people and she would weigh both sides of an issue before voting.

She said she will not vote on something just because other board members voted that way.

"I certainly cannot be bought and paid for by anyone," Kelleher said.