Four candidates, including two incumbents, are vying for two 3-year terms on the Pecatonica School Board in the April 2 election. (I) indicates incumbent. David McSherry did not respond to a questionnaire.
Address: 7380 County Road F, Blanchardville
Family: Married with four children
Job: Cook at Viking Cafe
Prior elected office: None
Other public service: Union steward and trustee, Carpenters Local 2190, 1996-1999; president, Pecatonica schools alumni board and homecoming committee; volunteer, Pecatonica Area Food Pantry
Education: Pecatonica High School
Address: 803 Blake St., Blanchardville
Family: Married with one daughter and two twin grandsons
Job: Retired elementary school teacher, Pecatonica schools
Prior elected office: None
Other public service: Served as president of Lake County Hospice and the Amador County homeless shelter in California
Education: Bachelor’s degree, San Francisco State University; master’s degree in divinity, Pacific School of Religion; elementary education certificate, National University
David McSherry (I)
Address: 2200 Mill Dam Road, Barneveld
Family: No response
Job: Retired principal, Pecatonica schools
Prior elected office: Pecatonica School Board
Other public service: No response
Richard G. Rolfsmeyer (I)
Address: 7087 Highway 39, Waldwick
Family: Married with three adult children, all Pecatonica graduates
Job: Self-employed community development consultant
Prior elected office: Pecatonica School Board since 2005; board vice president, 2005; board president, 2006–2017
Other public service: UW Extension Board of Visitors; state superintendent’s rural advisory council; Iowa County Board supervisor; Iowa County Fair Board; treasurer and volunteer director of the Grandview historic site; Pecatonica Rail Transit Commission
Education: Edgewood High School, Madison; attended UW-Madison
What makes you better qualified than your opponent for this position?
Bredeson: The two incumbents have been on the board for years and have much more experience. There lies the problem. An individual can become complacent when one does the same job with no changes. I will bring fresh perspectives and a new insight to the board, two things the board desperately needs. Plus, as a parent to children currently enrolled in the school and as an alumnus I have a vested interest in the school.
Cary: I have spent the last 25 years working with students, faculty, administration, the School Board, parents and the community at large. I have a strong sense of our local community’s values, and what folks in our district wish to see in our schools.
Rolfsmeyer: Each of the candidates brings distinctive skills and differing priorities. I don’t want to suggest I am more qualified than others, but I think I’ve demonstrated a good combination of knowledge and ideas as well as the skill needed to help a large institution overcome differences and keep moving forward, which we’ve done.
What is the most important issue facing your school district and how would you address it?
Bredeson: One major issue is the district shifting to a five days a week full-time 4K program. The way this proposal has been presented is shameful. Many families were left out of the loop. I want to make it my first priority to keep these families in our district and reassure them that the district is going to do a better job of listening to them.
Cary: The prospect of declining enrollment demands that we focus on staying open, staying viable, staying faithful to the district’s mission. You address this by continual improvement in the quality of instruction and opportunities offered to our students.
Rolfsmeyer: At this time, I think the most important issue is civility and dialogue on the part of everyone involved. That’s the foundation we need to build this district on. As board president my greatest challenge was keeping the peace and keeping divisive issues respectful. I’ll continue to do that by truly listening to people’s opinions. There really are no bad guys.
What’s one new way the district could keep property taxes in check?
Bredeson: Wisconsin already ranks high when it comes to property taxes. One project I would like to see implemented is the usage of skilled tradespeople to assist in the education of our students. These individuals would be asked to volunteer their time to demonstrate their particular skills. This program would take the place of current classes that are being taught. This would give students an opportunity to experience new possibilities when it comes to their future in the workforce.
Cary: A “new way” would be a return to an older method which had helped elevate Wisconsin’s public educational system to one of the best in our nation. Raising state aid to school districts, especially those who must resort to frequent referenda, would be a longer-term solution for keeping property tax in check.
Rolfsmeyer: Stem the flow of local kids leaving the school district. Pecatonica has lost kids to open enrollment every year since at least 2005. That’s expensive because we have to pay for those students no matter where they go. We need a retention strategy that includes active participation of community institutions and local folks who will help turn this around.