GENOA CITY — “I hope that people will remember that I cared and made a difference,” said Karen Bullock.
In April, Bullock will no longer be a village trustee. In 2011, she was appointed to fill the spot vacated by Ed Lilla, then she was elected to the position in 2012.
But in a Jan. 11 email, she said she won’t seek re-election because “as my children get older, the activities they are involved with have greater time commitments. I want to be available to support them in their activities.”
On the phone Jan. 8, Genoa City Village President Bill Antti said Bullock has a young son and a daughter in high school. He said he can understand her reasons for not seeking re-election this April, but he also will miss her as a board member.
“She’s an intelligent person,” said Antti. “She worked really hard. It’s kind of sad to see people leave that you work with and respect.”
Bullock said there are numerous scheduling conflicts for her in the future. Antti said being a board member “takes a lot more time than people realize.”
“I’m hoping she’s coming back to the board some time because she’s an asset, I think, to the community,” he said.
JoAnn Hollander also called Bullock an asset. She serves on the village hall committee chaired by Bullock.
“She really did her homework,” said Hollander, “she went beyond what was required for her to do the job, above and beyond. … I have nothing but positive things to say about her.”
Perhaps Bullock’s legacy will be as chair of the village hall committee, which was created by the board to identify current issues with the village hall and police department building and suggest possible solutions.
Hollander said Bullock spent several hours spreading the word about the village hall issue — in local newspapers, online and public postings — and “I just think she did an amazing job.”
But there was controversy surrounding the issue, and in public, some residents openly criticized Bullock.
“I think it was unfair because I think she felt like she was under a microscope,” Antti said. “I think she stood up to it well. Being on the board is not necessarily an easy thing, (but) I’m sure she could feel some animosity from some people.”
Bullock discussed the village hall issue in her answer to the question of what she hoped to accomplish on the board.
“I think my mission as a board member was presented to me when I was assigned chair of the village hall committee. As I learned more about the issues of the current building and can visualize the potential of doing something different, it is a mission that I am passionate about and put a great deal of time and effort into. It is hard to please everyone and while there is some opposition to the idea, there are many within the community that are supportive. I am pleased that money has been set aside for a project and look forward to seeing a project come to fruition.”
Below Bullock responded to Regional News questions for a Q&A.
Regional News: What is your favorite part of being a village trustee?
Karen Bullock: It was interesting to have firsthand, current knowledge of what is going on in the community. The village employees and elected officials care a lot about Genoa City. It was an honor to work with them and to serve the community.
RN: What is the worst part?
KB: About a year and ago, I went to a couple of programs offered by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC). There are other communities the size of Genoa City that participate in programs that strive to make themselves better for the citizens and more attractive to business.
This community has a lot of potential and some complain that there isn’t enough going on here. In order to change things, people have to be willing to get involved in supporting the positive things this community has to offer, whether that be business, service organizations or the local government.
To apply for a program like Connect Communities or Mainstreet, which are both through the WEDC, a great deal of volunteer effort is required both in the application process and to carry out the missions of the program. It doesn’t seem like we have that within the community. So, the worst part is seeing potential and not having the resources to effect change.
RN: What did you learn as a trustee?
KB: The way that things are handled in a municipality, especially some of the financial aspects, (which) are very different than how things are handled on a personal level.
Yet, just like a household, the income is limited. The village has fixed costs and, on this scale, it takes a lot to move the needle, whether that refers to taxes or utilities.
Once you understand what goes into the budgets, both income and expenses, you understand the costs associated with living here better.
RN: Would you ever run for village trustee or any other municipal position in the future? Why/why not?
KB: I would consider it again in the future, but children are only young for a short time, and I will enjoy every opportunity and support their activities.