BY NAOMI KOWLES
For the Star Journal
Editor’s note: This is the third and final profile on the Rhinelander mayoral candidates.
Mayoral Scott Counter is running as a write-in candidate to bring new industry into Rhinelander and address what he views as inner conflict in city hall if elected.
About Scott Counter
Counter has lived and worked in Rhinelander his entire life. Married for 29 years, he has two children and a granddaughter, all of whom also live in the city. He attended Nicolet College and worked in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for 30 years. He currently works full time at Advanced Barrier Extrusions (ABX) as a machine operator.
Through his various roles in EMS, he said he frequently had to deal with interpersonal conflicts. “It was working with people all the time as a supervisory role,” he explained, adding that dealing with those conflicts had given him the needed experience to deal with personnel conflicts at city hall.
Counter served as alderman on the Rhinelander city council from 2000 to 2004 for District 3, where he sat on the Protection of Persons and Property committee (now Public Safety) and later the Finance, Wage, and Salary committee.
Counter said he plans on allocating two days a week for mayoral office hours, with that two-day slot changing each week depending on his work schedule, noting that the position was part time and he would be available by phone and email.
“As mayor of the city of Rhinelander, you can only do what other people are willing to help you do,” he explained.
Counter cited internal conflict as one of the main issues he wanted to address in city government.
“They have to be able to sit down, especially in an open, public meeting, and conduct themselves as adults should. And it shouldn’t be the open bickering and things like that on the open floor. It doesn’t look good for the council; doesn’t look good for the city.”
Counter said he has attended city meetings “on and off”, but not recently. He wants to address the conflict issues by identifying the problem through conversations with employees and elected officials, and then try to “resolve it in a decent manner”.
“I would like to make the employees feel that they can come to me if they have an issue with their supervisors or anyone in charge…state what their issue is, and then have it looked into, and have it resolved.”
Counter said the most important mayoral responsibility was to ensure the city is run efficiently in a timely manner. In regards to communication with the public, he said he was “not a fan” of social media and preferred one on one interactions or communicating using traditional media sources such as print and television.
Projects and plans
“Right now there’s a big conflict that I’ve been hearing from the city residents with the streets, which is obviously a big issue,” he said. He cited the $2 million streets project slated to occur this year as something he would help support.
Counter said another big issue for the city was the narcotics problem, and that he wanted to sit down with Rhinelander police chief Lloyd Gauthier to look for ways to address it.
A major element of Counter’s plans for mayor is focusing on bringing in industrial, family-supporting jobs. He wants to form a mayoral committee with industrial leaders, economic development, and other city and townships representatives to form ideas and lobby the state for moving new industry into the area. He cited Foxconn coming to Racine County as an example, with economic grants and tax increment financing (TIF) being important to attracting new jobs and retaining current industry in the area.
“I feel that you start getting better paying jobs, getting people employed in better paying jobs, studies have shown that those areas start cutting down on issues with drug abuse, drug use, and crimes in that area.”
In regards to existing hurdles to attracting new jobs, he referenced a “crappy infrastructure” that needed attention, as well as affordable housing.
Counter said another issue was members of city council “cutting down the townships,” which was “uncalled for.”
“If it wasn’t for the people of the townships working and shopping in Rhinelander, there wouldn’t be a Rhinelander. It’s that easy.” He said he wants to open up a dialogue with outlying townships, which he believes is closed right now.
“You’re not going to 100 percent prevent it,” he said when asked how he intended to prevent future errors like the nomination papers certification issue that kept him off the mayoral ballot. “You can change them when they come up and when they’re identified; you really can’t find out if there’s an issue unless that particular ordinance…is identified and then go from there to correct it.”
In his own words
“I’m not making guarantees, but I’m going to hope if I get elected, that I can address and hopefully fix a lot of these problems that are out there that the people of Rhinelander have been complaining about for a while.”