By Joe Bachman
Two candidates for Wood County Treasurer spoke to Wisconsin Rapids residents during a forum on Monday night hosted by the League of Women Voters.
Current treasurer Heather Gehrt, who filled in for the retiring Karen Kubisiak in late 2015, took the podium next to newcomer Dawn Larson.
Gehrt has worked in the Park & Forestry department for the past 14 years and worked her way up to office supervisor, which holds multiple financial duties. Larson has served as treasurer for the Town of Sigel for 13 years, and has worked in the accounting field for over 25 years.
“I’m seeking candidacy for office of the treasurer because I’m currently serving in this position, and would love the opportunity to serve the constituents of Wood County”, said Gehrt. “There are exciting changes coming to the Wood County office, and I would like to see these changes through to the end.”
“I am a lifelong Wood County resident, and I have the strong desire, passion, and dedication required to be the next Wood County Treasurer,” said Larson. “I fully understand the challenges and what it takes to get a new system in place, and the time and dedication to make sure it’s done right.”
Both candidates expressed knowledge of the new tax system, heightened customer service, plans for delinquent accounts, and office efficiency as long term goals for the position. The two were also asked on the best investment plans to develop revenue for the county.
“I have been working with local banks to make sure our market is where it should be in negotiating interest rates with them,” said Gehrt. “I want to make sure we are getting our best bang for our dollar — I want to make sure that we’re not being charged erroneous fees — and I want to make sure we’re getting the latest products and services that are available.”
“We have to really pay attention and work closely with different financial institutions,” said Larson. “We need to look at what we have and if there can be a change — is the county paying more fees than needed?”
Gehrt and Larson both made strong closing statements, as the short, but informative forum came to a close.
“I would like to express my strong passion and desire for the treasurer position,” said Larson. “With my accounting knowledge I feel that I am a great fit — not only for me, but the county.”
“I’ve begun modernizing operations in the department by implementing a new tax software program that will maximize the efficiencies not only within the department, but for the public, also,” said Gehrt. “I know how to listen to people and value their suggestions.”
Aug. 9 marks the partisan primary elections for the position of treasurer.