Main Street, Silver Beach Road projects highlight Tuesday’s contest for three trustee seats
Several hot topics in the Village of Belgium have led five residents to compete for three seats on the Village Board in the Tuesday, April 1, election.
Incumbent Clem Gottsacker will be challenged by Wayne Lambrecht, Rick Aikins, Ricky Holler and Peter Anzia for a two-year term.
Trustees Ken Hirschmann and Jeff Thiel are not seeking re-election.
All five candidates said the Main Street and Silver Beach Road projects that need to be completed for the village to become a more attractive place for future residents and businesses.
Gottsacker, 61, who has served on the Village Board since 2003, said it’s important to keep businesses in Belgium while looking to attract new ones.
“The housing market is on the upswing here and we need to continue to spur more development,” he said. “We need to let it be known that there are incentives for businesses who are looking to come here.”
Gottsacker, who owns Clem’s Locksmith Service, said the Main Street and Silver Beach projects will be expensive, but grants are available to help defray the cost.
The village has received a Surface Transportation Program Rural grant from the state that will cover 80% of the estimated $4.2 million Main Street project.
Aikins, who has a business background, plans to create a special projects committee to attract more businesses — both commercial and consumer — to the area.
“I’m an open-minded problem solver with excellent communication and I have a vision for community growth,” he said.
Aikins, 62, is the chief executive officer of True Marketing, a business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing and product consulting company.
“I have some visionary ideas for the future of the industrial park,” Aikins said. “We need to create more local jobs to attract people to our village.”
While all candidates agree the projects must be completed, some are concerned with the burden taxpayers will have to bear.
“I want the taxpayers to be represented and balance what the village needs and what it can afford,” Holler, 54, said. “I will be an advocate for the hard-working taxpayers to ensure their money is spent wisely.
Holler, a diesel mechanic at How-Dea Service Center, said the current Village Board is “out of touch with reality and the residents of the village.
“I think the Main Street project can be scaled back a bit,” he said. “Burying the utility lines and putting in new street lights on Main Street is nice, but can we afford it?”
Holler credited the village’s public works employees with “working a lot for basically nothing.
“We need people in town to support local businesses and get more people to work here,” Holler said. “The people who do work in the village now do a great job.”
Anzia, who has lived in Belgium for 53 years, said he would like to see the village become a more affordable place for young families to live.
“We just increased our water and sewer rates and now we’re going to be asked to have our taxes increased to pay for these projects,” Anzia, who works at the Kohler Co., said. “The projects needs to happen. I think Main Street is about 15 years too late, but that’s the way it goes.
“I know I have to pick my battles if I’m elected. But there are nights when I go home from village meetings thinking ‘Why are we doing this?’ We need to tighten things up a bit.”
Lambrecht, 40, said he supports efforts to attract more businesses to the village, but the most important thing is working with board members.
“I have a lot to learn,” he said. “I want to reach out to people who have a lot more knowledge than I do and figure out how to bring businesses to our village.
“I consider myself a fiscal conservative and we all have to operate within a budget, but we have to do certain things to create development and growth. I would support those ventures.”