Turnover looks to be minimal in the Osceola Village Board election. Village President Jeromy Buberl is running unopposed for another term. Meanwhile, in the trustee races, incumbent Brad Lutz is seeking another term. Van Burch wasn’t going to seek another term, but had a change of heart within the last month and has registered as a write-in candidate along with Jerry Miller. Bob Schmidt choose not to seek reelection.
Background information about yourself (age, career, family, if you are an incumbent).
JEROMY BUBERL: I have lived in Osceola since 2009 with my wife and two children. My wife and I both work in Osceola and our kids attend school here as well. I currently work as a Custodian at the Public High School, have a painting business, and am currently part of the Village Board as President. I enjoy the area and find it a great place to live, work, and play.
VAN BURCH: As of April this year, this will be my fourth year serving on the Osceola Village Board. Prior to becoming a village trustee, I graduated from Osceola High School and became a full-time employee with the youth conservation corps along the St. Croix Riverway. After a year, I pursued my passion for emergency services and was an active member of Osceola ambulance and fire and was a school bus driver for Osceola Area Schools. As time went on it was time to become a member of the marine corps and attended the military police academy in Texas. and was attached to the airwing squadron in the twin cities. I continued my education in civilian law enforcement and fire and ems. I became Wisconsin certified as a law officer and worked as a sheriff’s deputy and for many police depts in the area. in 1989 I was appointed police chief for the village of Centuria and also served as an active member of centuria fire and rescue and served dual roles as both police and fire chief for many years. in 1998 I joined the wi national guard as an infantry soldier and as everyone knows after 911 things were about to change in my life. our country was going through some tough times and of course, that meant we had to slow down whatever was going to happen to us next. In 2004, I deployed overseas and was adjusting to my new life in Iraq. my wife and son were trying to adjust to their new life without me. tough times after returning home in late 2005 I went back to live as normal, and rolls changed again when our son in 2009 began to adjust to his new life in Iraq. I retired from law enforcement in 2012 and retired from military life in 2013. soon after that, I found part-time work at dicks market and bills ace hardware and later leaving dicks market and kept working at bills ace hardware until the pandemic. i am 60 years and have been married for 32 years and have one adult son.
BRAD LUTZ: I'm 45 years old and IT Manager. Married to Jennifer with two daughters, Evelyn (15) and Claire (13). Technically, I'm an appointee to the position, but I am appearing on the ballot, so I guess that means I'm an incumbent as well.
What were some of the factors that led you to run:
BUBERL: Currently I am running for re-election as Village President. I have been on the Board for the past three years, one as Trustee and two as President. I originally ran to be active in the community and try something new that I only watched from afar for most of my life. Once on as Trustee, I ran for President because I did not find that past leadership was creating a positive culture for the Board and Village staff. I was also concerned regarding the fiscal situation the Village was headed into, so I wanted to give people a choice. I am running for re-election because we have been paying off debt, while still providing the services our Village is known for and our residents enjoy. We have a great Village staff and a Board that is open and works very well together. I would like to see this continue for the next two years.
BURCH: Having already served on the board for years and learning so much as to navigate through some very tough times for our village gave me a chance to put my experience of working for many levels of government which included local, state and federal. I enjoy problem solving and making sure people have a chance to be heard.
LUTZ: Having been a resident of the Village for 18 years, I’m finally at a point in my life now where I feel it’s appropriate for me to give back to my community and serve. I consider myself a fiscally responsible individual and a pragmatist, and those two attributes are coming into play with my work on the board. I’m not afraid to speak my mind and bring a no-nonsense approach towards getting things done. Good communication between the community and the board means a well-run Village with fewer surprises.
What are the challenges you see for the Village over the next five years and the solutions to them?
BUBERL: While our Village has been doing well, it came at the impact of a tax increase for us all. The biggest challenges the Village will face in the next 5 years are continuing to pay off our debt, creating a plan for saving money for future projects and infrastructure, and decreasing the tax burden on the residents. I am confident we will be able to meet these challenges, as we have already made a large dent in our debt this past year, while lowering our mill rate without loss of services. Our Village staff should be commended for making sure we stayed within our budget, and all departments succeeded in this. We will continue to work with the plan that was put in place last year. Other challenges we will be working on in the near future are an updated Comprehensive Plan, as well as addressing the shortage of housing in the Village, both of which will require community involvement. A big part of all of this moving forward will be working together to figure out what we want Osceola to look like. It will take the residents, Village Board, Village staff, and other groups and committees working together to come up with the best solutions for these problems.
BURCH: Moving into the future smartly is a key component if we’re going to reap the benefits of success. Having said that, we have to listen to what our community’s needs overall. Those are housing, safety, infrastructure and keeping our Main Street and factories vibrant. Protecting our natural resources yet enhancing tourism to boost our local economy. As the pandemic slowly fades, our area will become more alive than ever but a new challenge is coming in just a few years and we have to prepare for the arrival of a new bridge on 243. This will affect at the least 25 percent of Main Street economy and it will be tough. We as a community have to prepare for this and the impact it will have on the village as a whole. The village board has a role in doing what it takes to ease the burden of impact on the community by taking a proactive role and not a reactive one. Hopefully assisting in securing funding and working side by side with our local chamber of commerce our community will meet this new and upcoming challenge.
LUTZ: I believe the biggest challenge will be rebuilding trust between the taxpayers and the board. The damage done by the Discovery Center project (and it’s resulting 36.9% increase in village taxes) will take a long time to heal. The path forward is simple: clear and concise communication between the board and affected residents. We MUST have a two-way dialogue at all times and foster positive community engagement to achieve our Village goals. Responsible fiscal policy paired with an open line of communication to village residents is the only way to ensure everyone understands what we’re working towards. I plan to help foster that engagement.