Clintonville challengers offer experience
Doornink, Bagstad have prior government service
By Bert Lehman
Four of Clintonville’s city council district have contested races this year.
Two of the challengers have prior experience in municipal government.
After a year away from serving on the Clintonville City Council, Mark Doornink is ready to make another run at being elected to the council.
Doornink said he chose not to seek re-election in 2015 because his previous term was “exhausting.”
“It was many, many meetings. I was frustrated that I couldn’t have made a better impact on keeping things right, and things went off the rails,” Doornink said.
He added that he felt burned out and that he needed time away from the council.
“I don’t sit on the sidelines very well. I like to be involved,” Doornink said about his decision to run for the District 5 council seat up for election in April.
“I watched the circus that continued to unfold and felt I should get back in there again,” Doornink said.
He said the city needs to get back on track.
“We need to restore a sense of normalcy and we need to get a permanent, fulltime city administrator hired,” Doornink said. “That’s only going to happen when things calm down and we do things that are right for the whole city.”
If elected to the council again, Doornink said he will use many of the same approaches that he did in the past.
“There are things that we did that were highly successful in the past that we went away from,” Doornink said.
He also said more work needs to be done by the city committees.
“That’s where this form of government gets its work done, in committee meetings,” Doornink said. “To the public it may seem like the council becomes a bunch of ‘yes’ people, but that’s because discussion and work is done at committees and that’s the way it was when I got on [the council].
“Now it seems like everybody wants to be in on the discussion and it all happens at the council,” he said. “There seems to be gridlock. We don’t move forward. We don’t make decisions.”
He said he is excited about the possibility of being elected to the council again.
“I’m looking forward to getting involved again and however I can contribute in a positive manner,” Doornink said.
Doornink is challenging incumbent Jeannie Schley in District 5.
Lance Bagstad said it was around mid-November when he decided he was going to make a run for the District 1 city council seat up for election this year.
Bagstad, who is the principal at Clintonville High School, said the political atmosphere in Clintonville did factor into him running for city council.
“I’m a firm believer that when you decide to make decisions in an elected position it’s important to look at all sides of every issue and regardless of whether you have the same political view as others around you, I think you have to make the decisions based on what’s best for, not only the constituents in the district you represent, but for the city as a whole,” Bagstad said. “I felt like I have the ability to operate in that manner.”
This isn’t Bagstad’s first foray into city politics.
He said he served for about 3 1/2 years on the council in the village of Bangor, just outside of La Crosse. While serving on that council, he was also a teacher in the Bangor School District, as well as the district’s activities director.
Moving to Clintonville was the reason he resigned that seat. That experience helps ease the concern about the time required to perform his principal duties, and serve on the council, should he get elected.
“I’ve always been the type of person who is involved in a lot of things. Certainly that was one of the considerations I had to make for myself, both personally and family-wise,” Bagstad said.
He added that he has the full support of his wife.
“I don’t feel that it will be too much to handle both positions,” Bagstad said. “If I’m fortunate enough to be elected by the citizens, having the connection between being a member of the school system and a member of the city council can act as a positive to bring the two organizations together and a little bit closer to work on things.
Bagstad said he believes to effectively represent his district, as well as all the citizens of Clintonville, it has to be based on communication, fiscal responsibility, and progressive growth.
“If it can operate under those three pillars I think decision making then falls under the broader umbrella of what’s good for the city of Clintonville and the residents that reside here,” Bagstad said.
Bagstad is challenging District 1 incumbent Jim Krause in the April election.