Vote

Three candidates will be on the Feb. 16 ballot for village president, the top two vote getters will move on to the general election in April.

The Sentinel reached out to all three candidates to get their insight on Grantsburg and why they’re running for village president.

Diane Barton

What is your background?

I was born and raised in Superior. I spent summers in Grantsburg until I turned 18 years old. I have a Bs in elementary education with a teaching Science minor. I also have a Masters of Science teaching. I have been on the board since 2012 and have missed very few meetings in that time.

Why are you running for village president?

I am running for president for ALL people of Grantsburg not for my personal agenda. The people should come before my wants.

What is your vision for the future of Grantsburg?

I want to see Grantsburg grow and expand.

Rod Kleiss

What is your background?

We moved to Grantsburg 17 years ago when we moved our gear business to the industrial park with five employees. Five years ago we sold the company after having grown to 24 salaried employees. Our success was in part due to the excellence of the Grantsburg Industrial Park and help from the Northwest Regional Planning Commission. During this time I also sat on the Village Board for four years to try and help this community grow into a true destination for families and visitors. I served as the Village Board liaison to the Library Board and helped usher in a period of growth and innovation for that important Grantsburg institution. I’ve been a member of GRO and with the help of local outdoor enthusiasts, we resurrected 14 km of cross country ski trails, and cleared the Wood River for kayaking to the St. Croix from Grantsburg, and also helped to revitalize the Grantsburg airport.

Why are you running for village president?

In my years in Grantsburg, I have seen a lot of forward thinking effort by citizens to build a better community, and would like to see that same level of enthusiasm and commitment on the village board. While I was on the board, I helped fight an effort to de-fund our library. More recently, we lost over half of the cross country ski/hiking trails when a new landowner pulled permission for public access; efforts to get the board to help encourage cooperation failed. There has been an ongoing battle to close our airport when hundreds of thousands of dollars are available to rebuild and modernize. It seems our current board is only interested in basic maintenance of roads and utilities without an overall plan for building a better community. There is a document in the village archives that outlines such a plan, but it is not actively pursued.

What is your vision for the future of Grantsburg?

Grantsburg is an amazing village. We are located in one of the most beautiful parts of the state, adjacent to Crex Meadows Wildlife Refuge, five miles from the St. Croix river one of the most beautiful rivers in the country and Governor Knowles State Forest, with a downtown in its own little refuge away from Hwy 70 with Memory Lake as its centerpiece, and a very excellent industrial park. Our downtown has never really thrived as it should since its heyday. Even basic street repairs were put off for years downtown. But now we have real entrepreneurs introducing a brew pub and coffee house to downtown. The village needs to support and promote this kind of development. We also need to embrace a vision for our highway development. We need to join forces with Crex Meadows to highlight a unique relationship and support for its visitors. Grantsburg’s potential is only limited by our own imagination. This town could easily rival Ely, MN or Bayfield, WI as a destination for both residents and tourists. And we need to grow our industrial base which should be easy given the tools we have to work with.

Terry Kucera

What is your background?

Having worked and volunteered in local government for two decades, including ten years as a Police Reserve Officer in a Twin Cities suburb, I am well versed in understanding how local taxing authorities balance the needs of residents and businesses with the important services they are mandated to provide. Throughout the past 20 years I have been responsible for managing multi-million-dollar budgets for public and private corporations. That experience has provided me the understanding and vision to work with Village trustees and staff to set policy and guidelines that provide for the community’s needs as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Why are you running for village president?

I have enjoyed being active in, and leading local civic organizations throughout my professional career. (See terrykucera.com/about for a complete list.) When I was asked by Grantsburg community leaders to consider running for Village President, I recognized that it was the right time to lend my support and leadership to the Village Board and staff as they work to serve the community’s immediate and long-term needs. I look forward to following in the steps of previous Village

Presidents that have kept public discourse at the forefront of their leadership. Positive working relationships between the Village President and the numerous stakeholders in the village are important to the success of Grantsburg.

What is your vision for the future of Grantsburg?

Like many other communities in rural Wisconsin, important issues like affordable taxes, public safety, infrastructure improvements, economic development, equitable housing, and measured growth should continue to be the basic building blocks for decisions made by the Village on behalf of its residents, business owners, schools, and civic groups. If elected, I will work with the Board and staff to review and update the Village’s Comprehensive Plan to identify future near-and long-term projects that are balanced with budgetary initiatives and priorities. My vision also includes a goal of continuing to update taxpayers on the important issues that affect them, whether it be public safety, water quality, tourism, or public health. In addition to keeping with the tradition of timely newsletters and website updates, I will introduce semi-annual town hall forums hosted by Village Board and staff with a goal of gathering feedback from all stakeholders that have a shared vision for the future of Grantsburg while remembering and honoring the past. During my tenure as Village President, input from Village staff, residents, local business owners and organizations on decisions that affect them and their community will always be welcomed and encouraged.