Two seats on the West Bend School Board will be up for grabs in an at-large election on April 3.
Joining incumbent Monte Schmiege on the ballot are three challengers, Chris Zwygart, Kurt Rebholz and Mary Weigand. Leaving the board is Tim Stellmacher, who was appointed to the board mid-term and did not file for re-election.
The West Bend Current asked the candidates 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.
Monte Schmiege (incumbent)
By Abby Gawrych, Current Staff
Monte Schmiege is ready to reclaim a board seat for his second term.
Schmiege attended Dr. Martin Luther College where he earned his bachelor’s in education. He then worked at the West Bend Company and Regal Ware for a total of 40 years before he retired, and now considers the school board his full-time occupation.
Along with dedicating his time to the school board, he also works with Good Shepherd Lutheran Church as well as Habitat for Humanity to create a better community.
Schmiege’s original desire for becoming a part of the school board was to change the Common Core curriculum, which still remains one of his main concerns.
“Some people will say that we need to leave that to the experts and I don’t necessarily believe that,” Schmiege said. “If we had policies or some way to describe what curriculum should look like that would be one thing, but we really don’t. And things change so much that it is difficult to do that. I think the board’s role is oversight.”
Not only is Schmiege a member of the school board, but also the current treasurer as well as the chairman of the policy committee.
“I think that I work very hard in the policy arena,” Schmiege said. “Before being the chairman, I worked on policy to give the board authority to approve staff accomplishments and I worked with administrative personnel on it and they believed that the outcome was good.”
By Andrew Jung, Current Staff
Chris Zwygart thinks the West Bend School Board could use a sharp legal mind, and he thinks he’s the man for the job.
He currently serves as the Chief Legal Officer for the West Bend Mutual Insurance Company and has been working at it for two years. Zwygart has been working in the West Bend community for 23 years now.
He notes that his passion for education is what sets him apart from the other candidates.
“Quality education has served me well through my years and I want to make sure that every kid has the same access to that quality education,” Zwygart said.
As for past experience, Zwygart has worked with the Saint Joseph’s Hospital board for nine years, the Cedar Community’s board for two years, Froedtert Hospital’s Investment board for four years, and the Network Health board for three years.
His experience in board management is one of the reasons Zwygart believes he can select a proper candidate for superintendent, a vacant position needed to be filled in the West Bend School District.
“The proper candidate for school board is a major concern for taxpayers and the vacancy needs to be filled by creating a more transparent and controversy-free environment in hand with more competitive action to entice a potential candidate to come to us,” Zwygart stated.
Zwygart has also volunteered a great deal in the West Bend community with organizations such as the Red Cross, the Family Center, the West Bend Public Schools Foundation, the West Bend Mutual Community Fund and the Saint Joseph’s Community Foundation.
With the amount of service he has done in the community, Zwygart believes that he has a clear understanding of how the community works and how he can help if he is elected to the board.
“Working with the people of West Bend for so long has brought me so much insight as to what the community needs in a board member and active leader,” Zwygart said.
By Grace Peplinski, Current Staff
Kurt Rebholz says his experience as a local businessman and a father makes him a strong candidate for school board.
Rebholz is the owner, president and co-founder of Bay MarketForce, a sales and marketing company located in downtown West Bend. According to Rebholz, this business background is a key factor in his qualifications for being a board member.
“I come from the business community, so I’m used to recruiting, interviewing, and hiring people. I know we have some open positions for district superintendent, and others. I also have some budget experience with running a company on the financial end,” Rebholz said.
He is also the father of two children, Kyle and Megan, who have been in the West Bend School District. Rebholz says he moved to West Bend 23 years ago for the local school system.
“I’ve had two children go through the school system, so I’m very familiar with the coursework it offers and the extracurricular activities,” Rebholz said.
Rebholz also says that he is very passionate, and believes this gives him a leg up when it comes to the other candidates.
“I am passionate about support of our school system, from students and teachers to the district administrators and helping to improve our facilities,” Rebholz said. “I have some skills to bring to the school district.”
He also noted the number of sporting and other events he attends at the high schools.
“I love to see concerts here and other cultural events,” he said. “I want to promote those programs more. We could do a better job as a community on promoting those programs.”
His passion extends not only to his job and the West Bend schools. He and his family are active volunteers at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, where they are members. He also plays a role in the Boys and Girls Club of West Bend, which hosts an annual golf outing in honor of Mike Sheehy, a West Bend East High School alumnus who passed away unexpectedly in 2015.
“We raised $16,000 in 2016 and $17,000 in 2017,” Rebholz said. “Half of the money goes to a scholarship that is offered by COLUMNS (a local organization that awards scholarships to graduates of the West Bend High Schools) called the Mike Sheehy Memorial Scholarship. The other half will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County.”
By Priyanka Trivedi, Current Staff
Mary Weigand has lived in the West Bend area most of her life, and now she’s giving back to the community by striving to create a positive learning environment for students.
A graduate of West Bend East High School, Weigand is currently a registered nurse at a hospital. She got her nursing degree three years ago after deciding to go back to school due to her love of learning.
“I love direct patient care,” Weigand said. “Nursing is a ‘people’ job and that is a big part of what makes my job enjoyable. A heartfelt thank you from my patients at the end of my shift makes all the hard work very worthwhile.”
Weigand lives in the town of Trenton and has four children. While she homeschooled all of her children, all four children still attended WBHS at least part time.
Weigand is an active member of the Citizens Facility Advisory Committee for the West Bend School District which focuses on finding solutions for the district’s education facility needs. In addition, Weigand is on the district’s Human Growth and Development committee and does Bible studies at the juvenile detention center of Washington County.
“Being on committees for the West Bend School District has given me a flavor of what the district is about and how to go about making good changes,” Weigand said.
Weigand also runs a fair booth called “What’s the Evidence?” that challenges the science behind the theory of evolution. Each summer, Weigand and others visit the state fair, along with other county fairs, and exhibit findings of the Bible.
Read more about the candidates at The Current, including why they chose to run and their thoughts regarding budgeting priorities and curriculum changes.
Click on each name to see their official campaign sites: Monte Schmiege, Chris Zwygart, Kurt Rebholz and Mary Weigand.