Meet Manitowoc County Board of Directors Candidates Denise Heller, Michael Grambow

Denise Heller and Michael Grambow are vying for the District 22 seat on the Manitowoc County Board of Supervisors. Incumbent David Dyzak has filed a non-candidate request and is not running for another term.

These candidates completed a candidate survey provided by the Herald Times Reporter to give our readers a taste of who they are and what they stand for.

District 22 is north of the town of Two Rivers. Visit manitowoccountywi.gov for a complete map of county supervisory districts.

The spring election will take place on April 5. Voters must be registered and provide photo identification, such as a driver’s license or Wisconsin Department of Transportation ID card, when voting. To register, people can go to the city clerk’s office or go online to myvote.wi.gov and provide proof of residency.

Meet the candidates

Michael Grambow

Michael Grambow

Age: 53

Profession and highest level of education: Chief Information Officer, MS-ICT

Relevant experience: Not answered

Denise Heller

Denise Heller

Age: 57

Profession and highest level of education: Manager at Sally Beauty at Manitowoc; bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Relevant experience: Previously, she served eight years on the Manitowoc County Board of Supervisors (1992-2000), chair of the staff committee for four years, vice chair of the county board for two years, chair of the association’s staff committee counties in Wisconsin for a year. I also served on the County Finance Committee and Public Safety Committee while serving on the Manitowoc County Board of Directors.

Why are you running for election?

Grambow: I am running for office to do what I can to help ensure that the voices and concerns of the people of my district are heard by our county government and to become a more informed member of the community. While I think the county council has been doing a good job for many years now, these people cannot stay on the council forever, so we need new people to step in as others leave. I believe in fiscal responsibility, individual freedom and a limited role for government. These beliefs and principles will be my guides as county supervisor.

Heller: I have a renewed interest in serving as my son is now a freshman in college and Dave Dyzak has announced he will not be running for re-election. I would appreciate the opportunity to serve the east side of the Town of Two Rivers and much of the Town of Two Rivers.

What makes you the best candidate in this race?

Grambow: If you believe that government should be subject to the will of the people, that prosperity is not created by government taxation, spending and redistribution, that the role of government is limited, that the rights and responsibilities of the individual are the foundation of our freedom and liberty, as I do, so I’m probably the best candidate for you.

Heller: I am a long time resident of Manitowoc County and a resident of Two Rivers since 2001. Not only do we own land in the town, but we also own adjacent land which is in the town of Two Rivers. Our tower plot hosts the cell tower along State 42, just a few hundred yards from Two Rivers High School. I have the experience of my eight years of service on the county council and I believe that I can represent the district well.

What do residents think are their most important issues and how would you address them?

Grambow: So far, the most frequent questions I have been asked about are taxes and radical leftist ideology. When it comes to raising taxes, my default answer is “no.” There will have to be a remarkable enough case presented for me to consider a tax increase. All other options should be fully explored. As for supporting any radical left ideology, it’s an automatic “no”.

Heller: Our county needs more well-paying job opportunities in our immediate area. You shouldn’t have to drive to another county for a high-paying job. There are many signs of help needed, but some offer no benefit and most people will not be able to afford a home on what is currently on offer in many cases. There is also a “brain drain”, when the brightest and the best leave our region to work. In rural areas, caring for our groundwater resources is vitally important to our health and survival as dairy leaders.

What would be your top two priorities as a board member?

Grambow: First, maintain fiscal responsibility by limiting borrowing and spending to a sustainable growth ratio. Second, to prevent the government from going too far and expanding into areas where it does not belong.

Heller: The first element is affordable taxes. The county can be a leader. The second concern is public safety, where the county is responsible for the sheriff’s office, the county jail, and the county courthouse.

What is your vision for the department?

Grambow: My vision is of a Manitowoc County that continues to be a great place to live, work and raise a family. A society that creates economic opportunity for our residents, provides quality services, maintains our roads and public facilities, keeps our natural resources clean and accessible, encourages tourism, protects private property and individual rights, and does in a fiscally responsible manner.

Heller: Make Manitowoc County a better place to live, work and raise a family. I know this includes jobs, schools, highways and water resources, but the county has the ability to contribute to this vision, together with cities, towns, cities and schools.

What do you think of the department’s current budget?

Grambow: I like it. He keeps the line on taxes and borrowing and, I think, wisely and fairly shares ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds. The growing demand placed on the Department of Social Services is recognized and staffing is added. I like investments in cybersecurity, water and sewer proposals, and broadband. We will continue to maintain the roads properly and improve the facilities. I believe this is a responsible budget that continues to support quality services, fund improvements in a number of areas, and maintain the long-term goal of sustainable spending and fiscal responsibility.

Heller: This current budget was a “once in a lifetime” budget, with $15.3 million coming from the American Rescue Plan Act. While cost sharing to remove lead pipes used as diversions in the Town of Two Rivers will continue this spring, it is by no means a joint budget. Villages and towns have also participated in improving water, sewer and broadband projects. The next budget will have to revert to the old strategy of, first, limiting taxes; second, have a low level of debt and consider establishing a “rainy day fund”, even if it is a small amount; third, repair the county’s vital highways; and fourth, make sure the relief workers are quickly available to the cities that desperately need them right now.

Contact Alisa Schafer at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @AlisaMSchafer.

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