Janesville71.8°

Eight in race for Darien Village Board

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ANN MARIE AMES
February 11, 2009
— The village of Darien has been a hot bed of political conversations.

So it's no wonder five residents have stepped up to challenge three incumbents for three seats on the village board.


On Tuesday, voters will choose from: Cheryl Kaufenberg, Joel Gauer, Debi Olmstead, Helen Burton, Cindy Holmes, and incumbents Phil Putman, Craig McCue, and Allen Kenyon.


The big discussion in the village is the continuing suspension of Police Chief Steve DeVoy.


DeVoy was suspended with pay in early December after village employees found surveillance cameras in the department lobby. He remains on leave while attorneys for the village sort through the issue.


Many candidates could not say if the village made the right choice suspending the chief during the investigation because village officials aren't talking about the situation.


"It's hard for me to say because I don't know the reasons," Burton said.


Burton is a special education teacher for the Janesville School District. Regardless of the situation, Burton is disappointed that village officials didn't warn DeVoy of the pending suspension.


Olmstead, who works at the Elkhorn post office, said the village is handling DeVoy's suspension "very incorrectly" and taking too long to come forth with answers.


"More than two months is plenty of time to find out if he did anything wrong," Olmstead said.


While the village studies the issue of the cameras in the police department, it's getting ready to formally poll residents on the department's future.


In April, voters will face an advisory referendum question asking if police services should continue to be provided by a village police department.


The answer will be a good tool for future boards, Kaufenberg said.


"It will give the board direction on how to staff that policing within the bounds of the budget," Kaufenberg said.


The board must look for flexibility when it can because some budget items don't allow flexibility, said Kaufenberg, a retired business teacher and paralegal.


Kenyon said the village must be careful when studying the future of the police department to insure security is sufficient in the village. Kenyon, a retired Vietnam veteran with the U.S. Army, said he would be in favor of downsizing the department but not getting rid of it.


He also would be in favor of regional fire service, he said.


"We have to get more for the least amount of money," Kenyon said.


Another big budget discussion in the village is the aging sewer system. The board debated raising sewer rates to cover a large 2009 revenue shortage, but the Dec. 30 vote failed on a tie.


Putman favors a gradual rate increase to avoid major rate hikes in the future. He was appointed to the board in 2003 and volunteers at the Darien Senior Center and for Meals on Wheels.


"Maybe we'll have to raise rates a little this year, or have to raise a lot next year," Putman said. "It's not going to get better by itself."


The village is studying the sewer system to find out where ground water is leaking into sewer pipes, forcing the village to pay to treat more water than residents are pumping from wells.


The sewer study is a step in the right direction, said Gauer, a retired maintenance worker with Dean Foods. He's trying to stay positive about the challenges facing the village, Gauer said.


"We've got things in the works now that sound pretty progressive," Gauer said.


Incumbent McCue would like to see progress in the way the board communicates with residents.


If the village provided a PowerPoint presentation during budget discussions or detailed presentations, it would help residents in the audience follow along, McCue said.


"We're going to have to keep an eye on the numbers and have them available to anyone at any time," McCue said.


Holmes also is disappointed with the way the board communicates with the public. Board president Bob Metzner routinely tells citizens who raise an issue during the public comment portion of the meeting that the village will respond in writing.


That doesn't give people a chance to ask questions or see if their complaint forced a change, said Holmes, a rental property manager in Delavan and Elkhorn.


"We've got to get rid of the secrecy," Holmes said.


The top six vote getters will advance to the April general election.


On that day, voters also will choose between incumbent board President Bob Metzner and challenger Evelyn Etten.


Village of Darien

Name: Helen Burton


Address: 310 N. Cavanaugh Court, Darien.


Age: 42


Job: Special education teacher for the Janesville School District


Education: Graduated from Elkhorn High School in 1985; earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Marion College in 1995; earned a master's degree in education in 2005 from Aurora University.


Community service: None


Public office: None


Name: Joel Gauer


Address: 22 Washington St., Darien.


Age: 68


Job: Retired in 2008 as a maintenance worker from Dean Foods, Chemung, Ill.


Education: Graduated from Big Foot High School in 1962; some electrical training.


Community service: None


Elected positions: None


Name: Cindy Holmes


Address: 30 E. Beloit St., Darien


Age: 35


Job: Property manager in Delavan and Elkhorn


Education: Graduated from Lincoln High School, Manitowoc, in 1991; earned an associate's degree in 1993 from UW-Manitowoc County; earned a bachelor's degree in international studies 1995 from UW-Oshkosh.


Community service: Girl Scout leader


Public office: None


Name: Cheryl Kaufenberg


Address: 209 W. Washington St., Darien.


Age: 60


Job: Retired high school and technical college business teacher. Works as a substitute teacher in the Delavan-Darien School District.


Education: Graduated from Janesville Craig High School in 1964; earned a bachelor's degree in education with emphasis on business from UW-Whitewater; earned a master's degree in teaching with an emphasis in business in 1972 from UW-Whitewater.


Community service: Member of the Walworth County Arts Council; active with the American Field Service student exchange program.


Elected positions: None


Name: Allen Kenyon


Address: 344 W. Beloit St., Darien


Age: 54


Job: Retired in 1995 from 20 years of service in the U.S. Army.


Education: Graduated in 1972 from Badger High School


Community service: Member of the Darien American Legion


Elected positions: Appointed to the Darien Village Board in 2007


Name: Craig McCue


Address: 39 N. Walworth St., Darien


Age: 54


Job: Construction


Education: Graduated from Marengo, Ill., High School in 1972


Community service: None


Elected positions: Elected to the Darien Village Board in 2007


Name: Debi Olmstead


Age: 50


Address: 185 Andrea Court, Darien


Job: Works for the Elkhorn post office


Education: Graduated from Alexander Hamilton High School, in 1976; went to UW-Whitewater for one year in 1976.


Community service: Volunteer master gardener at Rotary Gardens, Janesville.


Elected positions: None


Name: Phil Putman


Age: 72


Address: 125 Jefferson St., Darien.


Job: Retired machine worker


Education: Graduated from Delavan-Darien High School in 1954.


Community service: Delivers Meals on Wheels in Darien. Volunteers at the Darien Senior Center. Member of the Darien Cemetery Board.


Elected positions: Appointed to the village board in 2003. Elected in 2005 and 2007. Is chairman of the senior center committee and serves in the library and family connections committees.



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