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Suennen and Hemmen face off for Wards 11 and 12

By Ben Rodgers

HOWARD – On April 3, two candidates will face off for one seat on the Howard Board of Trustees.
Incumbent Ray Suennen is being challenged by John Hemmen for the right to represent Wards 11 and 12.

The Press sent questions to each candidate and gave them up to 250 words to respond for each question.

Below are there answers in full.

Name: Ray Suennen
Immediate family: Twin daughters, April and Autumn
Occupation/former occupation: Retired accountant/controller (CPA, CMA) and also federal government contracting legal compliance director, as well as a former small business owner. A total of 43 years of business experience.
Any civic groups you belong to: Howard-Suamico Optimist Club, member and on board of directors, Ballroom Dance Group of Northeastern Wisconsin, gives volunteer performances/programs at assisted living facilities.

What sets you apart as a candidate for the Howard Village Board?
I am a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Management Accountant and a former small business owner. For 10 years, I owned and managed a residential care facility for teenage boys and a supper club.
My experience includes 25 years of accounting and finance, including 12 years of budgeting for small companies to a large NYSE reporting corporation, 10 years as controller, and worked for CPA firms performing auditing and tax preparation. For eight years, I directed a large corporation’s governmental legal compliance program.
I have 33 years of leadership and management experience as a controller, manager/director and business owner. I have worked in nine different industries, which has given me a very diverse and well-rounded background.
I have been a trustee on the Howard village board since 2010. Currently, I am also on the Howard-Suamico Optimist Club Board. For five years, I was on the Board of Directors of a local $100 million credit union.
Other boards that I have served on include the Midwest Small Business Officers Group, Packerland Chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants, Green Bay Kickers Soccer Club, Family Campers & RVer’s, and the Town of Wagner Volunteer Fire Department. I have also held many officer positions in various organizations during the last 40 years.
I’m the only candidate that is an accountant, and also has been a small business owner, has legal experience, worked in nine different industries, and served on the Howard Planning Commission, Legislative Committee and Community Development Authority.

How can the village attract people not only to work here, but to live here?
In 2017, Howard was ranked by “Money Magazine” as No. 40 of the “Best Places to Live” with a population of 10,000 to 100,000. It considered Howard’s affordable housing, extremely low crime rate, family resources and recreational activities, a great school system, quick commute, and low unemployment.
Howard’s affordable housing is a result of several factors, including Howard’s low property tax rate. Howard has the second lowest property tax rate of municipalities its size in Wisconsin for the years 2016/17 at $3.64. The lowest was $3.62, median of $7.47 and highest of $12.02.
Howard’s tax rate of $3.64 is less than half of the median. I have supported the minimizing of taxes and promoted cost controls and good budgeting.
Affordable housing also includes the availability of vacant lots and new housing developments. Howard has been proactively working to maintain an inventory of developable lots, has reasonably priced and competitive development fees, and realtors consider the village as being efficient and good to work with. As a trustee, I have supported these initiatives.
Howard provides high-quality services to its residents, from safety to recreational opportunities. Howard continues to expand its walking trails, bicycle paths, neighborhood parks, and has opened the quarry for use. In 2017, I urged staff to reallocate funds to improve the safety of the Howard quarry. By June of 2018, many improvements will be made including a shallow swimming area for our youth that will be surrounded by buoys.

What areas of the village need improvement? How you would achieve that?
The streets and roads of every municipality always need improvements. Streets require re-surfacing about every 25 years, and the cost per mile increases every year.
The village had increased the funding for roads in 2014 and has maintained the higher level of road funding each year since. The 2018 budget included additional road funding to be set aside for the 2022-23 re-construction of Lineville Road and Shawano Avenue.
I promoted the additional road funding in 2014 and have supported it every year since.
Attracting new businesses for employment and shopping opportunities is needed for every growing community. The village staff has been proactive in trying to get new businesses to locate in Howard. Howard’s successes include the Meijer store, Menards, and Vandervest Harley-Davidson. As a trustee, I have supported the village staffs efforts and was involved in discussions and with the approval of these new businesses building in Howard.

What needs to be done now to ensure viable growth for the village 20 years from now?
The village of Howard has been and is planning for the future.
Howard has a document that is a plan for all areas of the village, which includes housing developments, commercial/industrial locations, roads, recreational activities, and other growth issues. It was created in 2002 and updated in 2012.
This document is called the comprehensive plan. It is a guideline created by a consultant under the direction of the village staff and a committee consisting of Howard residents, and was reviewed and approved by the village board. I was a member of the residents committee and the village board for the 2012 Comprehensive Plan.
The village just completed an extension to the Meadowbrook Park walking trail, and additional trailways are discussed every year when the budget is being prepared. The Howard Quarry was opened for swimming in 2017 and improvements will be completed by June of 2018. Bicycle lanes and sidewalks are considered when new roads are being planned and when existing roads are reconstructed.
The planning of new roads and water/sewer installation considers where there is a current proposed development and/or there will be future housing developments.
Howard staff is proactively in contact with developers and property owners in order to maintain an inventory of vacant housing lots and multi-family unit developments for future residents.
Howard has a revolving loan fund available to businesses to assist in the growth of their business within the village of Howard.

Name: John C. Hemmen
Immediate family: I am a widower, with two adult members of family with five granddaughters.
Occupation/former occupation: Retired. Financial officer of a local engineer firm.
Any civic groups you belong to: Member of St. John’s Church.

What sets you apart as a candidate for the Howard Village Board?
Having a financial background with having responsibility for a budget and controlling cost. Being a conservative and we need to keep our cost in line which will keep our taxes low. Look at things that add value to the village.

How can the village attract people not only to work here, but to live here?
By keeping our taxes low, being a friendly and safe community, providing neighborhood area parks and a great school system. Attract industry and business to the village to give residents an opportunity to live closer to areas in which they work.

What areas of the village need improvement? How you would achieve that?
I feel the village does a good task of controlling cost, but I think there is more to be done to keep cost in line. I would work with staff to better understand why we spent the taxpayers’ money and if there is an alternative.

What needs to be done now to ensure viable growth for the village 20 years from now?
Maintain a good infrastructure, provide in some cases more affordable housing, and that the state and country has a robust economy.

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