Decision 2017: Meet the Six Candidates for School Board

SchoolBoardElection_LogoThe West Bend School Board will have a new look after the election on April 4.

Three seats are on the ballot and only one incumbent, Ryan Gieryn, is running for re-election, which means the board will have at least two new faces. Leaving the board are president Rick Parks and vice-president Bart Williams.

Gieryn will be joined by Richard Cammack, Nancy Justman, Bob Miller, Joel Ongert, and Tonnie Schmidt on the ballot. The West Bend Current asked each candidate about their background. That interview material is presented below in the order that the candidates will appear on the ballot.

Read more about the candidates’ campaign ideas here.

Joel Ongert

By Lily Mottet, Current Staff

Joel Ongert is working towards bettering the school district for the benefit of his two school-aged children.

Ongert has lived in West Bend for the last eight and a half years. He has two children who attend Decorah Elementary.  Ongert and his wife, Christina, frequently volunteer in the district. As a volunteer, Ongert also helped coach tennis at West High School for three seasons.

He is an active member  of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church located in West Bend. Ongert enjoys working with the middle and high school youth groups, in addition to volunteering for other groups and activities surrounding the church.  

At Caterpillar Inc., Ongert is Regional Sales and Service Manager. This includes the responsibility of overseeing sales plans and multi- million dollar budgets for sales variance.  Ongert has dedicated 13 years to the company.

Ongert graduated from Bellevue East High School near Omaha, Nebraska. Ongert then earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.

Ryan Gieryn (incumbent)

By Kritika Gupta, Current Staff

Ryan Gieryn has always been a big supporter of local education.

He has been involved with the Washington County chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association and helped raise and give out over $300,000 in scholarship funds to students who planned to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He grew up in West Bend and graduated from West High School in 1994. He then graduated  from UW-Madison in 1998 with his bachelor’s degree in psychology. For the past 15 years, Gieryn has been a commercial real estate appraiser. He has both the MAI and AI-GRS designations from the Appraisal Institute, a group that he’s been involved with on both the local and national scene.

Gieryn currently serves on the West Bend Board of Education, and coached girls basketball for West High School for six years. He has been involved with West Bend Sunrise Rotary, Leadership of Greater West Bend, the Kettle Moraine Jazz Festival, and the West Bend Public Schools Foundation.

He currently has two children in the district, including Madison, who attends Badger Middle School, and Traynor, who attends McLane Elementary. In his free time, Gieryn likes to spend time with his family, play golf, hike, read, and cook.

Nancy Justman

By Abby Gawrych, Current Staff

Nancy Justman, a West Bend resident for 18 years, is always giving back to her community, and now she is ready to add school board representative to her long list of accomplishments.

She graduated from Campbellsport High School, earned her undergraduate degree in communications from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and now has a master’s degree in business management from Cardinal Stritch University. She has previously worked and volunteered for organizations like the American Cancer Society, the YMCA of Metro Milwaukee and the Washington County Fair.

Justman is also involved in tourism promotion and development at the state level, having served on the board for the Wisconsin Association of Conventions and Visitors Bureau.

Not only is she tied to the community for these reasons, but also because she currently has three daughters in the West Bend School District, including a sophomore at West High School, an eighth grader at Badger Middle School, and a sixth grader at Silverbrook Intermediate School.

Tonnie Schmidt

By Maddie Aamodt, Current Staff

Tonnie Schmidt is co-owner of Delta Defense and is hoping to bring that business expertise to the school board.

Schmidt, native to Midland, Michigan, attended a variety of private and public schools. As a junior in high school, she was able to live in Norway as a Rotary exchange student. After graduating from Michigan Technical University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Schmidt went to work for a private construction company in Boston. As the assistant to the project engineer, she received a glimpse into the world of politics and the red tape of government.

In 1998, Schmidt, her husband, and their eldest son, Tim Schmidt, Jr., who currently runs cross country and track for West Bend West High School, moved to West Bend. The family began building Schmidt Engineering, their business at the time. As the years went by, Schmidt was able to gain many perspectives regarding educational opportunities since her children enrolled in a diverse group of schools.

As an active member of the community, Schmidt serves on the board for the Volunteer Center of Washington County and is a proud supporter of the West Bend Public Schools Foundation. Having grown up in troubling situations, she hopes to make positive changes as a school board member.

“Whatever challenges you are struggling with now, will pass,” Schmidt said. “Of course, then you will be faced with new challenges. You will be better prepared if you choose to learn something from your situation. Ultimately, we make life meaningful by learning from our experiences and using them to help others. I would like to use my lifetime of experiences to help the students in the West Bend School District.”

Richard Cammack

By Abby Gawrych, Current Staff

Retiree Richard Cammack has gone back to school at the University of Wisconsin-Washington County as an audit student for the past five years.

Before he began to do this, he attended college at Boys Tech High School as well as the Engineering School at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. According to Cammack, his passion for learning will inspire many others in the future.

This is not Cammack’s first time running for a position on a board because he was previously on the board for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

Although he is currently retired, he continues to volunteer and  contribute to the community. He is involved in groups like Common Sense Citizens, St. John’s Lutheran Bible Class, Barton Gun Club and St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church.

Bob Miller

By Lily Mottet, Current Staff

Bob Miller has spent the majority of his life involved in the West Bend community.

Miller graduated from West High School in 1995, and then graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Washington County.

He has three children who attend school in the West Bend School District.  Two of his children attend East High School and the third attends Silverbrook Intermediate School.

Miller is heavily involved in Boy Scouts of America.  Miller is the Chartered Organization Representative for Boy Scout Troop 762, Venturing Crew 9762 and Cub Scout Pack 3782. Miller also serves on the West Bend High School Band Board. Lastly, Miller is a member of West Bend Moose Lodge #1398.

For the past 13 years, Miller has worked as a fiber network technician for Spectrum Business. In addition, Miller is a driver for Johnson School Bus and a towing operator for Bob’s Main Street Auto and Towing.

Read more about the candidates at The Current, including why they chose to run and their thoughts regarding Galileo testing and Common Core.

1 Comment

Filed under Community, School News and Features

One response to “Decision 2017: Meet the Six Candidates for School Board

  1. Mark Drake

    Dear Current Staff-
    Thank you very much for dedicating your time and resources to a series on the WBSD School Board election. It is VERY IMPORTANT that students AND community members get educated about an important race that is coming up on Tuesday, April 4. Other media sources might print editorials from one particular author or angle, or letters from a candidate or the general public; you certainly have the ability to do this as well. Like other respected news sources, your editorial board could deliver an Op-Ed, or one of your reporters could write an opinion piece. However, I appreciate your devoting space to all of the candidates to give their thoughts on important issues in their own words for our school and community to read and reflect upon. Hopefully, this will lead to engagement as voters cast their ballots. For some high school students who were not able to vote in November but are able to vote now, this might be their first chance to join the electorate. An election such as this can influence the lives of students and parents in many ways, such as Galileo testing which your articles point out. For all students and community members, voting in an election such as this is a fantastic way to participate in local government. Thank you for focusing on an important news item that greatly impacts all of us. I hope that many students read your article, gain some knowledge, and choose to participate in the political process.

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