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Make way for a primary in Hammond

A primary election on Tuesday, Feb. 17 is a certainty for the Hammond Village Board races. Three residents turned in candidacy papers for village president. Eight residents declared their candidacy for the three open village trustee positions. Deadline for declaring candidacy was Tuesday, Jan. 6. Three incumbents are running, along with several familiar faces and newcomers.

After the primary, the number of candidates on the ballot in the April 3 election will be narrowed down to two presidential candidates and six trustee candidates. Current Trustee Stan Kolakowski, who was appointed to fill Mack Kamm’s spot in May, filed non-candidacy papers.

For this story all candidates were asked two questions: 1. Why did you decide to run for office/re-election; and 2. How do you feel about going into such a wide-open race? Their responses are below.

President

Tony Bibeau

Bibeau is a two-term incumbent. He was appointed a trustee in December 2008 and elected to the presidency in 2011.

1. “There are some big issues that the Village of Hammond is facing, such as the sewer plant and the Davis Street project, that I have been involved with since the beginning. That is one of the reasons that I am seeking re-election.”

2. “I am confident that the residents will make the right decision when voting, so I feel good going into the primary.”

Erin McComb

McComb served as a trustee for two terms from 2009-2013.

1. “I truly enjoyed my four years of service as a trustee for the Village from 2009-2013. After losing my first bid as Village President in 2013 by four votes, I have watched the last two years with concerned interest and realize I miss the work. And, frankly, there is a lot of work to be done – we need to restore civility and credibility to the board, improve employee engagement and give ourselves a jump start to improve by collaborating with businesses and residents. It’s time to get creative, and I believe I have the skills and passion to help make Hammond the best place to do business and call home!”

2. “Personally, I welcome it. Seeing primaries with a slate of diverse candidates tells me two things: residents are paying attention and they are willing to walk the talk and get involved. It is my hope that regardless of who gets elected, candidate and community involvement carries on – Hammond can only benefit from the dialog. It’s important we have good listeners and decisive, ethical leaders on this board to get us on track to where we want to go.”

Mounir Tber

1. “I decided to run for president of the village of Hammond in order to reinstate the effective leadership our residents demand and expect; also to render our beloved village affordable, livable and welcoming to all, including businesses.”

2. “I feel very confident all residents of the Village of Hammond are looking for not only a major change in leadership but a new vision that will propel us to lasting prosperity. I know I am the person who can make it happen.”

Trustees

Sandy Brecht

Brecht was elected in the spring of 2013, but resigned in October 2014 due to alleged comments made in a closed session meeting threatening a resident’s life.

1. “I resigned because I did not feel right about going into a closed session and talking about items that were not posted on the agenda. And the discussion that went on in closed session I did not want to be a part of. I am running for the board again because I love Hammond and I want to make it a better place for all of us to live.”

2. “I love the fact that so many people are running for the board. It tells me that the residents are not going to sit back and let their biggest investment go down the drain. They are going to fight for it. I am so happy that new people want to get involved. I welcome them!”

Tony Endres

1. “I decided to run for village board trustee to help in letting the people's voices be heard. To cut wasteful spending and have a transparent and accountable government.”

2. “Honestly, I didn't think about how big the race is, I just want to do what I can to help the village and the people who live in it. I believe that we all want change for the better.”

Laurie Gruber

This incumbent was elected to a trustee position in the spring of 2013.

1. “I decided to seek re-election as I feel there is more to be done to move our village forward.”

2. “I believe I have always had the residents and employees of this village in mind as I served. If re-elected, I would continue to do just that.”

Jon Hodgson

1. “In general, I’ve been a citizen of Hammond for eight years. I’ve seen a lot of changes, some positive and some not so positive. In the last year, there has been a lot of uncertainty and questions about finances. I was encouraged by friends to get more involved and run.”

2. “The political game is kind of new to me, though I’m familiar with the process. I look forward to the next month in getting to know the residents and getting information to the people who are voting.”

Ron Kappers

Kappers ran for trustee in the 2012 primary, but was eliminated. He also ran for trustee in April 2014 and came in fourth. He put his name in the hat to be appointed when Kamm resigned, but Kolakowski was appointed instead.

1. “I know I’d be good for the board and I’d like to see the village’s finance straightened out.”

2. “I’ve been in a primary before. Personally, if I don’t win in the primary I hope someone else with my same thoughts and values gets elected because we need new board members.”

Travis Myher

1. “I’m unhappy with the way Hammond is being run right now. I feel they don’t put the village residents first so I want to try to help run the village the way it should be run.”

2. “I feel good about it. I feel I have just as good a chance as anybody.”

Kristy Olson

1. “I decided to run for trustee because I love living in Hammond and would like to see our community thrive.”

2. “I think it's great there are so many candidates running. It shows there are many in our community that would also like to see Hammond thrive.”

Rob Ward

This incumbent was appointed in October 2014 when Brecht resigned.

1. “I was just recently appointed to the Village Trustee position when Sandy Brecht resigned on Oct. 13. I consider it a great honor to have been chosen to represent the Village of Hammond, and I wish to continue to serve by looking out for the best interests of the village and its citizens. I see an opportunity to participate in and affect change for the benefit of Hammond. I am running for re-election as I have a desire to genuinely make a difference in our community.”

2. “I think it’s great so many people are stepping up and want to contribute to their community. I personally think getting some new blood and new ideas on the Village Board will do this village a great service. In my opinion, the best people run for altruistic reasons because they honestly believe they can make a contribution for the good in public service. I will continue to stand up and fight for what is best for our community.”

Candidates were required to collect at least 20 signatures from eligible village residents in order to appear on the ballot.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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