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Supervisors delay District 2 appointment to hear ruled out candidates

The Board of Supervisors seat for St. Croix County District 2 will remain vacant another month after some supervisors, citing the disclusion of three out of five applicants, voted to postpone the decision.

District 2 covers Wards 1-3 of St. Joseph and Wards 3-6 of Somerset.

Former Supervisor Agnes Ring stepped down from the seat last month after announcing she accepted a new position with Family Resource Center of St. Croix Valley. She said the nonprofit organization's work with public agencies could be a possible conflict of interest.

Two candidates, Jeri Koester and Jessica Lee, spoke before the board at the Oct. 4 meeting.

Koester, a 30-year Somerset resident, has worked as the clerk and treasurer for the town of Somerset for 20 years. Her experience with local government includes serving on the Somerset Parks and Recreation Commission, work on the town's comprehensive land use plan and a role as treasurer for the St. Croix County unit of Wisconsin Towns Association.

"I have time to serve the community and residents of District 2," Koester told supervisors. "I feel that I have a firm foundation in working with the town. I've learned a lot in the last 20 years about budgeting, payroll, cash roll, payments receivable, elections licensing permits, property tax appeals, public notices, just to name a few."

Jessica Lee, who built her home in St. Croix County 20 years ago, leads the Operations Incident Management team at Wells Fargo.

Lee described herself as a fiscal conservative and highlighted her work in the community, including coaching soccer, helping to organize a Western Wisconsin Vex Robotics tournament in Somerset and past service on a high-speed internet commission.

"From a community perspective, I have less formal government experience than some of the other folks who applied for this position," she said. "But I do have hard skills earned in the private sector focused on efficiency and relationship management, and I definitely think I could put those skills to work here at St. Croix County."

Lee's neighbor, Chris Marshall, voiced opposition to her candidacy during public comments. The two were named in a closed civil suit Marshall filed in February.

"She had no interest in small business," he said. "I feel that if she's appointed in that position, her sole agenda will be to make mine and my family's life miserable."

Lee dismissed Marshall's comments while addressing the county.

"This is really a significant time of change for St. Croix County," she said. "The world does not revolve around him, the world revolves around the community, what we invest in it, the generations that we're raising as we progress— that's really what it's all about."

The board approved a motion from Supervisor Roy Sjoberg 15-3 to consider three additional applicants, who had applied for the position but were ruled out, along with Lee and Koester.

Applicants Scott Nordstrand, Kelly C. Ott and Chris Matter will have a chance to address the full board at the Nov. 7 meeting.

Sjoberg said he was "disappointed" in the county's process to fill the position.

"If we're going to have an election, I'd like to have an election with all of the candidates," he said. "I'd like to hear from all of them. These two candidates are fine, but if this is an open election and a democratic process, why don't we hear from all five of them?"

Corporation Counsel Scott Cox said the county's bylaws do not require board chairs to move forward more than one applicant.

"There's no requirement that if five people apply, we move forward five people," he said.