Active Campaign Suspension

Active Campaign Suspension

Due to the recent death of my mother after two years of fighting cancer, and fears and concerns about a couple of other major health issues in my immediate family, I am putting my active campaign into suspension. My family and I need time to heal, recuperate, and recover from these troubles, and I need to be with them to give them my support.

I’m still considering whether or not to have a “passive” campaign where I just do what’s necessary to get on the ballot and perhaps make a few more posts on my site here, but I will definitely not be canvassing in the next year or so.

Final Election Results Analysis

Final Election Results Analysis

I’ve had some time to look things over, and to formulate my thoughts on the election and its results. So, here they are.

First, I am actually excited to see that from last year’s election, we almost DOUBLED the number of participating voters, from 22.2% of all eligible voters, to 38.6% of all eligible voters. This is good news for our democracy. It shows that on the local level we’re getting much more interested in the process, and want to have our voices heard. This is a great thing!

I’d like to start by looking back at last election cycle to see my personal results, and then compare those to this cycle.

Last Year

Here were my 2022 Spring results:

I did half as well for the Village Trustee position as I did for the school board, which makes sense, because really the school board is where my heart is, as I really want the best for our kids more than anything else. I also had some VERY strong competition for the Village Board, as pretty much everyone else on the ballot were well known names already in the local community, and I had just gotten started. I talked with my wife about the school board results, and while my percentage was extremely low, she told me that I should be proud of myself for accidentally running against the school board president who’d been on the board for over 15 years. I’ll have to take her at her word for that, as she has experience with this kind of thing, having grown up in another small rural Wisconsin community.

Now, looking at this year’s results…

This Year

In the School Board Primary, I did almost exactly as well as I did last year’s general election. So I have to assume it was largely the same people voting for me. The fact that it’s a primary however, and many people ignore primaries and just vote at the “regular” elections makes me feel a bit better about my results. Even though I was the lowest vote-getter and got knocked off the ballot, getting as many votes in the primary as I got in the general election last year I think I should consider some form of win. The total number of votes cast during the primary was 1,257. The total number of votes cast for the School Board during this year’s general election was 2,454, with only 14 of those being write-ins. Making the assumptions that if my name was still on the ballot, and that I would have received the same percentage of the vote… if we just increased the total number of votes cast from the primary to match the general election and increased my votes proportionately, then I would have theoretically received 253 votes, putting me at third place. Now, of course, that’s a WHOLE LOT of postulating, and most likely wouldn’t match up with reality. But it’s a slightly comforting thought to blunt the loss.

I did SUBSTANTIALLY better in the Trustee race than I did this time last year. In fact, almost three times better. So that shows some good progress. This could be partly attributed to the fact that my votes weren’t “split”, as I’m sure last year that at least a good chunk of people believed that I should only have one position or the other, but not both. This year, with me being knocked off the ballot for school board, I most likely consolidated all of the votes I would have gotten. I’m slightly miffed that with the efforts that I put in that I barely got more votes than two people who didn’t do any advertising that I had seen, and didn’t do any canvassing that I’m aware of. Que sera, sera.

This year, I started my canvassing at the opposite side of the Village from where I started last year and worked my way backwards. Between the last two years, I’ve physically canvassed roughly 75% of the Village of Fall Creek proper. Being a family man with a full time job, my time is fairly limited in that way, and physically walking from house to house to talk to people is EXTREMELY time consuming. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to even TOUCH the more “remote” areas outside of the main village that are still within the bounds of the school board’s jurisdiction, such as the Towns of Seymour and Lincoln. I hope to get to them next year.


I have determined that, with the progress that I have made, that there is a good portion of my fellow residents that hear my message and agree with it. I believe that I’m starting to build what they call a “constituency”, and I thank them all for their support. It’s been a long, hard road, and will continue to be one.

I don’t get anything for “free”, because I’m not what they call a “native son”. The “Bennett” name is not a name that’s been in the Fall Creek area for generations. I don’t get free automatic votes from people that knew me their entire lives, because nobody in Fall Creek has known me that long. I have no family, and very few friends here. I’m not a very social person, and I know that I can be very off-putting and rub people the wrong way. I’m working on that, the best that I can. I’ve had to work for every single vote that I’ve gotten so far, and I appreciate each and every person that has blessed me with their trust and faith. Thank you.

I have decided to continue my efforts. However, next year I will most likely focus on one board or the other, rather than splitting my attentions between both. Which one I choose will depend on a couple of factors, including who else may be running next year for the open positions.

I will no longer be attending the board meetings that the majority of my fellow citizens have decided that they don’t want me at. I don’t want to be where I’m not wanted. Which means that I won’t be able to record those meetings and publish them. I IMPLORE both boards to do this voluntarily themselves, and show the community that they believe in full transparency, and that they aren’t afraid to let the public know how they behave and interact with each other. Meeting agendas and minutes only give the public so much information, and in my opinion, it’s not nearly enough. Non-verbal and verbal interactions between board members reveal a whole lot more about a person’s character than the way that they vote, often times.

I’m going to be reducing my Facebook footprint substantially. It’s been pointed out to me that it’s caused more detriments than benefits to my campaigns. People can misinterpret and take things the wrong way or only read/hear part of the message and ignore the rest. I’ve also been told that that constant presence there has become irritating to some, and if there’s one thing I don’t want to be, it’s an irritant. We need to be able to talk about important issues without getting personal, and apparently that’s much harder to do on Facebook. So I will be mostly restricting my own thoughts to this site from here on out. That way people can come here if they want to know and hear them, rather than have them “forced” on them. I also do much better face-to-face than I do in text format, frankly, as it gives me the chance to see people’s reactions, and respond to them in kind, explaining myself further or in a different way as needed to make sure the message gets across correctly and isn’t misunderstood.

I’ve pointed out to most people reading this the faults and the problems that I’ve seen. And I think a lot of people are starting to open their eyes to those issues. The first step to solving a problem is admitting that there is one. Now, I think it’s time to start working on creating solutions to those problems.

I will also be slowing down a bit, spending some more time with my family, less time walking around, more time thinking about what I think this community needs, and formulating potential plans for improvement. To start focusing on solutions, rather than just problems.

I would like to thank again those that voted for me. Your voices have been heard. It’s not a roar, rather a low rumble, but I suspect that it will be a constant one that will grow in time.

Finally, I would once again like to congratulate all of the sitting board members that maintained their position in this election, as well as congratulate Amy Kurtz for her big win on the School Board. I hope that she will make some positive changes to the status quo.

Tri-County Area Times – Fall Creek Village Board Trustee Questionnaire Answers

Tri-County Area Times – Fall Creek Village Board Trustee Questionnaire Answers

Below are my answers to the Tri-County Area Times Questionnaire which they sent to all Board Trustee candidates that they could get a hold of.

1). Why do wish to serve or continue to serve the Village of Fall Creek as an elected official?

I was raised a Navy brat, knowing no real “home” for my entire childhood, which I’d always longed for. This happily changed when I moved here and settled down in this fantastic community. The Village of Fall Creek is a great place to have a family and raise children. Having my wonderful wife and two children of my own, I’d like to be able to represent myself and other “middle aged” parents on the board. I would like to see the village continue to prosper, renew, and to continue to be a place where my children would want to settle and raise their own families in the future.

2). What is your opinion on the relationship between the Village of Fall Creek and the Town of Lincoln and Eau Claire County and it’s importance for the future growth of the village?

I think that it’s important that the village continue to work together with the Town of Lincoln on local issues that affect both municipalities, and yet still maintain their separate spirits. The Town of Lincoln serves a community of individuals that live further apart from each other, while the Village of Fall Creek serves those that live generally in closer proximity. As such, they each have different wants and needs, and I think it’s important for us to recognize that, and for both groups to work together to achieve common goals, while not stepping on each other’s toes. Meanwhile, Eau Claire County continues to provide extended support for both municipalities, and it’s important for that dialogue to continue, for us to express to the county our needs, as well as representing ourselves sufficiently at that level of government. We must work together and try to tamp down on any divisive rhetoric. We’re all in this together, we should support and help each other. It’s the Midwest way.

3). Is there a project or program or initiative you would like to see the village take on or accomplish during your term in office that would help improve the quality of life in the village and what would it be?

Well at the forefront always, we should be mindful of “rural decay”, which is a very real issue facing villages such as ours. I don’t like seeing buildings that appear abandoned right in the heart of the village, and I think we can work together to resolve that. But that’s a long-term goal. In the short term, if I can just accomplish the task of opening government to fuller transparency and engaging the electorate in a more consistent and regular way, then I would consider my tenure to be one well spent. This would involve recording and publicizing all public meetings on the Village website (as I’ve been attempting to do as a private citizen), as well as providing all public documentation to the community online for free, without requiring an open records request. I’d like to make it policy that our local government pushes to give the community all the information they need to make informed decisions BEFORE the issues affecting them have been voted on, so that they have a chance to let their voices be heard.

Board Candidate Questionnaire – Jessica Mattson’s Responses (School Board)

Board Candidate Questionnaire – Jessica Mattson’s Responses (School Board)

Why are you running for the board?

The reason I decided to run for school board is simple… the TEACHERS!! Our teachers have been asked to go above and beyond in the onset of COVID and in the aftermath of COVID the high expectations haven’t gone away- in fact higher expectations have been placed on our teachers. Teachers who feel supported, heard, and their educational needs are being met create positive learning environments for their students.

What areas for improvement do you see in any areas under the board’s purview?

There is a significant need to address the educational gaps in our current curriculum, assessments, and how students are overall evaluated.

Presumably if someone is on a board, or wants to be on one, it’s because they want to make a positive impact on the community. What’s the biggest positive impact that you would like to see?

I would like to see our space needs met and be able to give ourselves room to grow. Currently classrooms are either nearing capacity or are over capacity. I believe the Fall Creek School Board and Fall Creek Village Board need to work together to plan for the future of the community.

What plans do you have to affect change, and why are these changes needed?

I plan to observe all classrooms in the Fall Creek School District and have open, honest communication with all teachers and support staff. I want to see the great things that are being done and get a greater insight on each classrooms needs. I can’t make affective change unless I truly know and understand the barriers teachers and support staff are facing.

To run for this position, you must believe that a change needs to be made and are working to replace at least one sitting board member. What makes you a better candidate for the position than the current sitting board members that are running to maintain their seats?

My reason to run for school board has nothing to do with the members up for re-election and everything to do with it being the right time in my personal life to run for school board. In the last year, I have seen how my children have been affected by decisions that have been made and I decided what better time than now. I want to be able to make a positive impact when my children are young and then be able to move on and enjoy my children’s school years.

How many board meetings have you attended in the last year? If none, why not? If you have attended meetings, what questions have you asked and/or what input have you provided to the sitting board?

I have attended one school board meeting in the last year. I attended this meeting to address the board on behalf of the kindergarten parents regarding the kindergarten class room sizes and requesting another kindergarten teacher be added for the school year. I drafted a letter to the board and gathered signatures from other kindergarten families who were in support of adding a kindergarten teacher due to significant safety issues and students’ educational needs not being met.

What have you done as a private citizen thus far to attempt to improve this community?

I have been and will continue to be a positive voice for the children in our community. I will continue to stand up for any injustice for our students, teachers, and community members.

Board Candidate Questionnaire – Jill Geske’s Responses (School Board)

Board Candidate Questionnaire – Jill Geske’s Responses (School Board)

Why are you running for the board?

I care about the students of Fall Creek School District and want to make sure we can educate our children but stay in budget.

What areas for improvement do you see in any areas under the board’s purview?

I feel that the board is doing a great job of putting the children’s education as top priority.

Presumably if someone is on a board, or wants to be on one, it’s because they want to make a positive impact on the community. What’s the biggest positive impact that you would like to see?

I would like to see better communication between the Village Board and the School Board.  I will only make Fall Creek a better place to reside and to send their children.

What specific positive changes have you individually made so far, and what others do you have planned going forward?

As a board member we don’t do “individual positive changes”.  We work together to make sure that the students are getting the best education possible, that the school stays on budget and all of the employees are being paid fairly according to other schools the same size as Fall Creek.

What distinguishes you from other sitting board members? What makes you a different kind of representative to the board that’s not already covered by any sitting board member? What do you offer that other board members do not?

I don’t feel that I stand out any more than any other board member.  I have been on the board for 9 years and have enjoyed being part of a board that truly cares about the children and the employees of the district. We all have other jobs and we can utilize our experiences with other occupations to help run the school district proficiently.

What specific questions have you raised that have created more thoughtfulness in board decisions? What were the outcomes of those questions?

Any questions that I have raised that have created more thoughtfulness have been in closed session so they will not published.

Why do you think others have decided to run for your position? What have you done, or do you have planned to address their concerns and reasons for them to be running?

I have not heard from any other candidates as to why they are running for school board so I can’t answer that.

Spring 2023 Primary Results

Spring 2023 Primary Results

Below are the results of the Spring 2023 Primary, as per Eau Claire County Clerk’s office:

I would like to congratulate Mmes. Kurtz, Geske, Anderson, and Mattson, who are continuing on to the general election. Obviously, I will not be joining them. As the lowest vote recipient, I’m out.

My percentage of the vote dropped a substantial 60.93%, from 16.97% of the vote last cycle to a mere 10.34% of the vote this cycle, while at the same time the total number of voters actually increased by 162.82%. In fact, I received one less vote than I did last cycle, when I was running alone against Mr. Wright, which saddens and surprises me, as I spent roughly eight times more time out there, pounding pavement, knocking on doors, and listening to and talking with my fellow community members, all at the expense of my own family’s time with me.

I will still be waiting and watching for the Village Board election results when that time comes after April 4th, but as I received half as many votes for that board last time as I did for the school board, I won’t be holding my breath.

This is, frankly, disheartening to me, to fare so poorly. I understand that my presentation can be abrasive, and that I’m often times saying things that people don’t want to hear. It’s only because I care so much that I say these things, because I feel that they need to be said when nobody else seems to be speaking these truths. Everything that I do comes from a place of trying to improve things, to make them better, for our children.

However, the electorate, my fellow citizens, don’t believe that I am the one to fill that role this year, and I must accept that.

I will continue to try to reach out to you all one-on-one, time permitting, and to have the conversations that are necessary to learn just what it is that my fellow Fall Creek residents are seeking, so that I can be a better representative to you, and try to understand what it is exactly that you all are looking for. I’ve been told during my campaign that the people want to hear only positive things, fluff and smiles, and that they turn on ANY serious discussion or criticism, even constructive criticism, and that I was foolish to try to bring up such things. I didn’t want to believe that, as I was more optimistic about my fellow citizen’s desire to have serious civil discussions about important topics regarding the District’s well-being. I never was one to hold a “Pollyanna” viewpoint about things, I’ve always tried to be a realist. But, perhaps these results are proof that I was wrong, and that that viewpoint is what is actually desired by the people.

Regardless, with this utter failure, I can no longer justify spending so much time away from my family to attend and record meetings that the electorate does not appear to want me at. It is my hopes that the boards will voluntarily pick up this practice, and push to increase transparency in our local governments. I still believe that there is a deep-rooted desire in our hearts for us to know what’s going on around us, and not just what decisions are made, but HOW they are made.

I am not going away, I never will. I care too much to do that. However, I will be substantially quieter for the near future, and perhaps that’s for the best for everyone. My only regret is that I won’t be in any position to serve the community for the next year in a way that I’m confident that I could have done well in, if given the chance.

Village President Nominee Letters

Village President Nominee Letters

It was brought to my attention that both nominees for Village President had sent letters to Fall Creek citizens. While I find it strange that I wasn’t included on these mailing lists, as I’ve been a resident for over a decade, I’ll have to assume it was a simple mistake.

Luckily, a kind citizen has given me access to these documents, so I have scanned them and provided them here, for anyone else that was left off of their mailing lists:

2023 Spring Primary Nominees

2023 Spring Primary Nominees

Here’s a list of the current nominees for school board for the primary tomorrow, in ballot order, with links to their webpages and/or an “official” posting of their candidate statements. (*) Indicates incumbents:

Amy Kurtz – Personal Facebook, Candidate Statement
*Jill Geske – Personal Facebook, Candidate Statement
*AnnMarie Anderson – Personal Facebook, Candidate Statement
Jessica Mattson – Personal Facebook, Candidate Statement
West Bennett – Candidate Facebook, Candidate Statement

Fall Creek Village Board Trustee Ballot Order

Fall Creek Village Board Trustee Ballot Order

The names have been drawn, and below you can see the names of all of the individuals competing for three open spots on the Village Board. I have denoted incumbents with an asterisk (*) and attempted to link next to all candidates’ names either their official website(s), and/or their social media page(s), if I could find them, so that you can learn more about us.

  1. Karen Hurd* – Election Website, Business (2), 2022 Assembly Election (2), Personal Facebook (may be old/out of date)
  2. Mark Pranckus – Personal Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter
  3. West Bennett – You’re on my election website, Facebook (2), LinkedIn
  4. Dusty Levasseur – Personal Facebook
  5. Karen Herbison* – Business, Facebook, LinkedIn
  6. Matt Mattoon* – Personal Facebook

If any of this information is inaccurate, please contact me and I will correct it immediately. Good luck to all those participating.