Six candidates, including one incumbent (I), are vying for three seats on the DeForest Village Board of Trustees in the April 6 election. Terms are for two years. Candidates Anita Brown-Huber, Jeffrey Horn and Kelsey Sweet did not respond.
Abigail Lowery (I)
Family: Married with two children
Job: Stay-at-home parent
Prior elected office: DeForest Village Trustee since 2017
Other public service: Special education teacher, 2010-2015; chair, DeForest Housing Authority Board, 2017-2019; member, DaneCom Governing Board since 2019; member, DeForest Library Board since 2017-present; meal delivery volunteer, DeForest Area Community and Senior Center since 2016; Be a Friend volunteer since 2003
Education: Two bachelor’s degrees, UW-Madison
Family: Two daughters
Job: Project manager, Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Prior elected office: None
Other public service: Vice chair, DeForest Planning and Zoning Committee since 2003; chair, Town of Vienna Extraterritorial Zoning Committee since 2003; vice chair, Town of Burke Extraterritorial Zoning Committee since 2007; chair, North Yahara Future Urban Development Area Steering committee, 2011-2012; member, Madison/Sun Prairie Future Urban Service Area Steering Committee; member, Windsor-DeForest Boundary Agreement Negotiating Committee, 2005-2006; president, vice president, treasurer and secretary, Friends of the Yahara River Headwaters since 2008; Norway Grove Memorial ELCA since 1996.
Education: Civil engineering and mathematics major, UW-Madison
Family: Husband, two adult children and grandchildren
Job: Realtor at eXp Realty, part-time school bus driver with DeForest Area Schools (Kobussen), owner-operator of Globetrotter Granny travel agency
Prior elected office: None
Other public service: None
Education: Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, Indiana University-Bloomington; associate degree in IT Network Security, Madison Area Technical College
Why should voters select you over your opponents?
Lowery: I listen, reach out to residents for their feedback, and advocate for what they want and need. My priorities come directly from residents’ priorities. I offer a unique perspective as a stay-at-home parent of young children, sister of someone who has autism, community volunteer, and former teacher. I have four years of valuable experience as a village trustee.
Simpson: I’ve lived in DeForest for over 20 years and been on the Planning and Zoning committee for 17 of them. I have experience working with developers and Village staff to keep our community growing in a well-planned way. I’ve been on the Friends of the Yahara River Headwaters to help that local asset stay clean and open for recreation.
Witherspoon: I am a wife, a mom and grandma, a longtime resident of DeForest, a small-business owner, and a people person. I am passionate about maintaining the health and vitality of DeForest. Many in DeForest have expressed concern that some on the board are not listening to the residents and are instead pushing their own agenda. My goal? Ensure their voices and wishes are heard and fully represented.
What is the most important issue in this election and how would you address it?
Lowery: DeForest’s future growth and development. I will first listen to resident feedback as we update our comprehensive plan. I will continue to advocate for creative ways to use and (re)develop land in keeping with residents’ needs and priorities. Based on my conversations with residents, I know future growth should complement our “small town” identity and allow for reasonable/lower property taxes.
Simpson: I believe it is controlling our spending. We need to critique our budget to find room for roadway improvements, trails extensions and park amenities. Lower taxes and the amazing natural environment here are both reasons I originally moved to DeForest. As more people find out about DeForest, we need to provide those amenities to them in a cost-efficient manner.
Witherspoon: The infrastructure of our village has been somewhat sidelined in recent years. Many in DeForest have expressed a growing concern at the neglect of many of our roads as well as drainage/flooding issues in various parts of town. I will seek to make updating and maintaining our infrastructure more of a priority moving forward.
How do you balance new development with sustainability?
Lowery: Sustainability means protecting the environment and focusing on the future needs of the community. With new development proposals, it is important to consider renewable energy, protect mature trees as much as possible, and preserve land to benefit human recreation and/or wildlife habitat. Residential projects should be diverse in size, style and affordability reflecting the needs of residents and the workforce.
Simpson: You work with developers to bring the amenities that the community desires. You have a well-prepared comprehensive plan that shows what is anticipated throughout DeForest. It is important that the plan has as much public participation as possible. The plan will then let everyone know what to expect: where trails will connect, streets extended, parks located and environment preserved.
Witherspoon: Maintaining a balanced approach between economic/new development and environmental impact is very important to the people of DeForest. With any new development, I will always encourage and support the Board and the people of DeForest understanding how projects will impact our environment prior to approval to lessen and/or mitigate any potential negative impact.