Fresh face, seasoned veteran battle in race for District 5 post

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Kayla Bunge
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
— Kimberly DeHaan thinks it’s time for some change on the city council.

Alderman Charles Van Dyke says he’s glad someone new is interested in serving in local government, but he thinks the city council is fine the way it is.

Van Dyke, who is completing his 10th term on the city council, and DeHaan, a local business owner who has never held public office, are vying to represent the city’s 5th District.

DeHaan is campaigning on a promise to bring smart business practices to the city, while Van Dyke is relying on his experience to address the issues facing the city.

Fresh perspective

DeHaan is critical of the current aldermen for routinely rubber-stamping things without much discussion.

“I think there’s just a lot of general agreement instead of any opposition or even questioning,” she said.

DeHaan said anything that comes before the city council is up for discussion, and that means aldermen should say more at meetings than just “aye.” She said if she is elected, she would ask a lot of questions instead of relying on a committee’s recommendation.

“There’s got to be some conversation,” she said. “Everything just can’t fly. And not that I’m going to be opposing everything—but everything is up for discussion.”

Van Dyke said the reason there is little discussion at city council meetings is because that kind of talk is done at the committee level.

“The council meeting is just for final approval,” he said. “Committee meetings are where the discussion is.”

Van Dyke said it’s not uncommon for committees to table items so aldermen can talk to each other before making recommendations to the city council.

DeHaan also is especially critical of her opponent, whom she said is no longer an “active player” after serving on the city council for more than 20 years. She said after serving that long, the work becomes “mundane.”

But Van Dyke said he’s never gotten complaints from his constituents.

“I probably get 25 or 30 calls a year from people in my district, and I’m usually able to get them an answer,” he said. “And I’ve never heard from people in my district that I’m not doing my job.”

Taxpayers in mind

DeHaan said the city must keep taxpayers in mind—especially in the face of tight budgets. She said her experience as a business owner would be an asset to the city, if she is elected.

“I’m essentially running a smaller city … having to determine what’s necessary and what’s not,” she said.

DeHaan commended the city council for making the “right” decision when it approved remodeling vacant space in the old downtown courthouse rather than building a new police station in Tasch Park—a move that saved taxpayers about $1 million.

“Even though new things are nice, they’re not always necessary,” she said.

Van Dyke said the city has done a “good job” living within its means, but it must continue the effort.

He said the city currently is evaluating its sewer system in an attempt to lower costs. Because its sewer mains are aging, the city is sending a million gallons of clear water to the Walworth County Metropolitan Sewerage District for treatment, he said.

Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the treatment of clear water, he said.

Van Dyke said the city plans to improve mains as needed.


Kimberly A. DeHaan

Age: 47

Address: 305 W. Oak Lane, Elkhorn.

Job: Vice president of DeHaan RV Center, Elkhorn.

Education: Associate’s degree in computer science from St. Cloud Technical College, St. Cloud, Minn.

Community service: None.

Elected posts: None.

Charles Van Dyke (I)

Age: 62

Address: 228 W. Second Ave., Elkhorn.

Job: Truck driver for Republic Services

Education: Graduate of Elkhorn High School

Community service: Umpire for the Elkhorn Recreation Department 2000-present; volunteer firefighter for the Elkhorn Fire Department, 1978-2008; member of the Elkhorn Rescue Squad, 1977-91.

Elected posts: Elkhorn alderman, 1984-88, 1990-94, 1996-present.

Last updated: 9:49 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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