Michael 'Mike' Montello (incumbent)
Occupation: General Manager
Family: Spouse Liz, three children, nine grandchildren
Prior political positions: Alderman NR City Council 1989 – 1993. Alderman NR City Council 2016 to present. Current City Council President
What is the primary reason you have decided to run for City Council? To continue to work for the residents of the city of New Richmond. Maintaining fiscal discipline while ensuring priority needs (public safety as an example) are regarded appropriately. Continue policies of transparency and accountability.
What mitigation measures with regard to COVID-19 would you endorse, if any, going forward? Based on where things are at today, messaging that supports healthy practices (i.e. handwashing).
What should the city’s No. 1 priority be? What is your No. 1 priority if you win a seat? Managing needs of a growing community while maintaining fiscal discipline. Continuing to represent city residents in an informed, respectable, accountable and transparent way.
Have you held an elected office previously? Explain. See above.
If elected, how would you work with your other council members to pass legislation? Continue to be educated about the issues facing the city, attend meetings and provide leadership that encourages participation and dialogue.
What is one concern about the city that you would address? There are multiple issues that deserve attention but a high priority one is public safety (police, fire, ems). The environment that exists in those areas is especially challenging and requires “out of the box” thinking.
Is there any reason to question the legitimacy of this election? No, the city staff that is involved in our elections are diligent in maintaining election integrity. I am especially proud of their efforts that encourage voter participation with the challenges during the pandemic.
What makes you or your skill sets unique from the other candidates? I’m not an agenda-driven candidate, am fiercely independent and don’t belong to any political party. Living in New Richmond for over 41 years with a long history (over 35 years) of continued community involvement in a wide variety of areas.
My career in finance and as a general manager gives me a broad understanding of balancing needs with fiscal abilities. Near 100% attendance at all required meetings during the past 6 years.
Family: Married, two adult children, three grandchildren
Current political position: St. Croix County Supervisor, District 12, since 2014, Chair of Community Development Committee since 2016
What is the primary reason you have decided to run for city council? I have deep concerns about the fact that taxes have gone up for six years in a row.
During a time of rapid growth the tax rate should be flat. I have a plan to flatten taxes. Also, to see a plan to remove rust from the tap water put in place and acted upon.
What mitigation measures with regard to COVID-19 would you endorse, if any, going forward? It is time to return to normal and not impede on people or businesses with any type of restrictions.
What should the city’s No. 1 priority be? What is your No. 1 priority if you win a seat? The first priority the City Council should take up in the new term is to improve transparency.
Currently half of the meetings of the City Council are video archived. The other half of the meetings are categorized as “work sessions” and the only record is old fashioned meeting minutes. The business done during these meetings is every bit as valid for the public to have access to.
The quality of video should be improved with much better audio for archival access. People deserve to have access to every word their elected officials speak in public meetings. Transparency in government is among my fundamental core values.
Have you held an elected office previously? Explain. I was elected to the St. Croix County Board of Supervisors in 2014 and have served four terms. I have had leadership roles in building the New Richmond Health Campus and the Highway Department facility in Baldwin.
I have served on the Community Development Committee since first elected and Chaired the Committee since 2016.
If elected, how would you work with your other council members to pass legislation? I look forward to listening to the opinions and viewpoints of my colleagues on the City Council. A return to the respectful use of the Rules of Order would help in this effort.
I have always believed that it is more important to say as few words as needed to get a message across. I hope that each member of the body feels welcomed to speak on all topics, and that no one member dominate or control the direction of debate or the agenda.
What is one concern about the city that you would address? The current library plan is substandard. The choice to turn the project over to a developer was made primarily to keep the library off the tax levy. The plan of erecting a large apartment building has many flaws.
As I walk around the neighborhoods and visit with folks, I am yet to find an enthusiastic supporter of this plan. Most folks think the security risk of having housing and a safe place for kids in the same building is not compatible.
I agree. This library plan must be set aside. The City Council must be a stronger partner with the Library Board in securing funding sources.
Is there any reason to question the legitimacy of this election? The fact that election integrity has been questioned is very sad to me. I trust our City Clerk, Michelle Scanlon and our County Clerk, Cindy Campbell.
These are impeccably honest people who believe in the sanctity of the election process. I know and respect the poll workers who have for years staffed our New Richmond poll. There is no reason whatsoever to question the integrity of this election.
What makes you or your skill sets unique from the other candidates? I am a humble public servant, and I have nothing more than the health safety and welfare of our community at interest. Being retired from USDA I have no business interests that might conflict with the interests of the City government.
My experience for the past eight years in local government on the County Board has given me a unique sense of what can and shouldn’t be done. And I have been able to build and expand the County facilities while keeping taxes flatter than the City of New Richmond.
Ronald R. Volkert (incumbent)
Occupation: 33 Years with the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department - Retired
Family: Wife: Ann
Prior political positions: 18 Years on the New Richmond City Council
What is the primary reason you have decided to run for city council? I was born in New Richmond and have lived here my entire life. I have been a resident of the City of New Richmond over 50 years.
I have seen New Richmond grow from a smaller community to a city of over 10,000 residents. I have witnessed unbelievable growth in population and industry. I can’t help but have an interest in this community.
We must balance growth and historical charm. I want to see New Richmond remain “The City Beautiful.”
What mitigation measures with regard to COVID-19 would you endorse, if any, going forward? I do believe that we can all make intelligent decisions. No matter what decision we make, it should be on an individual basis. Let’s all keep safety in mind and respect other people’s rights. Sometimes we work better with less government.
What should the city’s No. 1 priority be? What is your No. 1 priority if you win a seat? The city must continue to provide all the necessary service to the residents of this community.
We must maintain a safe environment providing appropriate police, emergency medical and fire protection. We must ensure that our city utilities and maintenance departments are operating sufficiently with the increased growth all around us.
My No. 1 priority is to continue to run efficiency and spend less taxpayer dollars.
Have you held an elected office previously? Explain. The New Richmond City council was my first elected office.
If elected, how would you work with your other council members to pass legislation? There is no doubt that I can work with the council together, as we represent the same people who have the same needs. The council has to work to continue to be an ongoing problem solving partnership.
What is one concern about the city that you would address? Bringing economic success and economic development to our city. Our current businesses and any future business are very important to us.
The economic success of our business community also determines the future economic success of our city. Let’s always provide our businesses, both current and future, with opportunities.
Is there any reason to question the legitimacy of this election? I know most of the poll workers. I have known them for many years. They are also supervised by the city clerk. I have full confidence in all of them.
What makes you or your skill sets unique from the other candidates? After 18 years on the City Council, I am familiar with the city budget process. I like to make a common sense approach “when it comes to spending somebody else’s money.” I am always aware the budget process is an important step to insure the city taxpayer is getting all they deserve.
Occupation: Chimney sweep
Family: Married my wonderful wife Kelsey, and my 2-year-old daughter Raelyn.
What is the primary reason you have decided to run for city council? To prepare for the future we’re a growing community and we need to be ready for what our kids and our grandkids are going to bring to this town.
What mitigation measures with regard to COVID-19 would you endorse, if any, going forward? I think the current measures that are in place are proving effective but I do believe that this is something that needs to be addressed on maybe a month-to-month scale.
What should the city’s No. 1 priority be? What is your No. 1 priority if you win a seat? Water quality.
Have you held an elected office previously? Explain. No. I have not held in office before
If elected, how would you work with your other council members to pass legislation? I do believe in working together not against each other so I’ll do my best to get the result of the constituents of my wards deserve.
What is one concern about the city that you would address? Transparency of our local government.
What makes you or your skill sets unique from the other candidates? I don’t know if any of my skill sets make me unique but what I do know is that I strive to make sure that I do what is right.
Kari Kraft (incumbent)
Occupation: Human Resources and Organizational Development
Family: Husband, Ryan. Daughters, Madelynn and Mia
Prior political positions: Alderman for District 6, Wards 11 and 12 from April 2020-April 2022
What is the primary reason you have decided to run for City Council? After serving on the City Council representing District 6, Wards 11 and 12 for the past two years, I am humbled by the generosity and spirit of those that not only call New Richmond home, but also work tirelessly to make our city a great place to live, work and recreate.
I have been honored to play a small part in setting policies that align with the City’s mission of providing reliable and economic public services to our residents and would welcome the opportunity to continue that work on your behalf as Alderman for the next two years.
What mitigation measures with regard to COVID-19 would you endorse, if any, going forward? My position is that local government should limit themselves on passing any ordinance that would restrict personal or business freedoms in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I value the leadership that the City Council showed in openly opposing the proposed St. Croix County Communicable Disease Ordinance, focusing instead on a local approach that had us working collaboratively with our community to provide resources, guidance, and direction - with great results.
What should the City’s No. 1 priority be? What is your No. 1 priority if you win a seat? Continuing to offer core municipal services in a cost-effective and efficient manner, while working to improve transparency and opportunities for public participation in local government.
Have you held an elected office previously? Explain. I have served as District 6 Alderman for the city of New Richmond for the last two years. Prior to being elected to this position in April of 2020, I had not held public office before.
If elected, how would you work with your other council members to pass legislation? My hope is that the council would come together to make decisions under the shared understanding that we were elected to serve our constituents and align any legislation with the city’s mission of providing reliable and economic public services to our residents.
What is one concern about the city that you would address? Improving transparency at every level of the organization – specifically for those areas that aren’t already scrutinized through industry or regulatory review.
Is there any reason to question the legitimacy of this election? The short answer is no. The city of New Richmond staff, specifically those responsible for election administration, have demonstrated the highest ethical standards in fulfilling their roles as our local election supervisors, and have received considerable training from the Wisconsin Elections Commission to ensure they are fully prepared to execute this important duty in an impartial manner.
What makes you or your skill sets unique from the other candidates? One of the unique skill sets that I bring to the council is my background and education in Human Resources Management and Organizational Development and my four years of service as a city of New Richmond employee in the role of human resources manager. This has given me a unique perspective when considering issues that impact both the city and the employees.