Fierce rivalry sparks fiery race for county executive in Outagamie County
OUTAGAMIE COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - On April 4, Tom Nelson is seeking to be elected to his fourth term - and facing a tough challenge from former County Supervisor Kevin Sturn.
The competition has been less than friendly so far. Plus, based on the numbers from the February primary, this race could also be very close.
Two of the biggest issues evolve around taxes, and the expanding airport. Another big question arose during the campaign: How much time should the county executive spend in the office?
While Tom Nelson is outspending Kevin Sturn when it comes to advertising, both candidates are running commercials, although Sturn has kept his on social media...
One thing they both agree on, is that Outagamie County is in good financial shape. However, they disagree on who’s responsible for that.
“When I was the finance chair, I initiated the plan of a sales tax and it wasn’t just because I wanted more taxes, it was because the county’s finances were heading in the wrong direction. We kept borrowing and we couldn’t pay for what we were,” stated Kevin Sturn.
“I vetoed the tax then, I still oppose it. Look, no one out there really thinks that you can raise one tax to pay for another. Yes, it’s been generating $20 million or $22 million and yes, $20 million can solve a lot of problems, but it doesn’t mean that’s the right thing to do,” countered Tom Nelson.
Nelson is also touting the success of the Appleton International Airport - which will soon undergo a $100 million expansion.
“I mean it supports three thousand jobs. Twelve years ago it was a sleepy regional county airport and now it’s an international airport and people look to a strong economy, not just the economy that has good jobs right now, but is nice and stable,” Nelson commented.
However, Sturn says the airport expansion still faces hurdles.
“Just recently at the airport and property committee they discussed that they didn’t get the federal funding a portion of it and what that means to the terminal expansion and there’s not a word about that and that’s actually going to be a problem,” Sturn said.
Also at issue, according to Sturn, is the amount of time Nelson recently spent in the office.
“The last 21 months when Tom was campaigning for US Senate he just wasn’t there,” Sturn maintained.
“I am focused one hundred percent on this office. We have major projects coming down the pipe,” Nelson responded.
The two candidates will debate in a forum on March 23, at 8:30 a.m.
It’ll be held at the Valley Chamber of Commerce in Kaukauna.
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