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Bill Brandt posed to begin sixth term
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Mayor Bill Brandt is closing in on a record.

Following this week's filing deadline, Brandt is poised to begin his sixth two-year term leading the city of Antigo. That will tie him with Miles “Mike” Stanke as the longest-serving mayor in Antigo's history.

“I take seriously the trust this community put in me as mayor,” Brandt said “I try to come in every day and do what is right and best for the city.”

Stanke, who died in 2013, served as mayor from 1991 to 2003. Brandt was first elected in 2009 and is running for another two-year term without opposition. It will formally begin following the April general election.

Brandt shifted to the mayoral position in 2009. The 1972 Antigo High School graduate served on the police force for 28 years, 11 as chief, retiring just a few months before taking over as mayor.

“As police chief, you are busy taking care of your own house, or department,” Brandt said. “As mayor, you're looking after everyone's house.”

Brandt's first term came as the Great Recession was gripping the country, and Antigo was getting hit hard, with businesses shedding jobs and the city forced to severely limit expenses through cutbacks and staff reductions done through attrition.

“Those were challenging times and we recognized that it was important to focus on our existing industries,,” Brandt said. “We had job losses but you can regain those jobs. Once an industry leaves, you'll never get it back.”

Brandt and the Common Council went to work, assisting industries through public improvement fund loans, which allowed manufactures to maintain facilitiesand jobsin Antigo and in some instances, close plants elsewhere and transfer the workforce here.

It was a controversial step, but Brandt said most of those funds, which were essentially city debt, have been repaid as manufacturers have prospered.

“It helped our businesses stay here and be in a position to grow as they came out of the recession,” he said. “It was very important to take care of the businesses we had.”

As the nationand communityemerged from the fiscal crisis, Brandt and the council switched to other priorities, including growing a skilled labor force to meet the needs of industry.

It is an ongoing challenge, with manufacturers, the Antigo school district, city, the Langlade County Economic Development Corporation and Northcentral Technical College all working together to educate students and retrain adults to compete in the modern job market.

“It's the number one concern among manufacturers.” Brandt said. “They have jumped in and are very much a part of the process.

“It's kind of a full circle,” he added. “At first, we were concerned about keeping jobs, now we are looking to find more employees to fill the jobs our manufacturers have.”

He pointed to a variety of success stories, ranging from Sartori, which in recent years upgraded its cheese-making abilities here, and Hydratight, which expanded and brought in manufacturing lines from elsewhere, to Volm Companies and Fresh Tech, which greatly expanded facility, Karl's Transport, in the midst of constructing a major new complex on the south side, and perhaps the largest of all, CoVantage Credit Union, which is adding a third story to its downtown headquarters.

Other challenges are also being addressed, the mayor said. Chief among them is the downtown, struggling as are others across the nation as shoppers moved first to “big box” outliers and now to on-line retailing.

The city is working in a number of ways, Brandt said,. It has awarded $90,000 through its facade grant program, which business owners have leveraged for over $550,000 in investments in storefronts. And its entrepreneurship grant program, in conjunction with the county's economic development corporation and private partner CoVantage Credit Union has awarded close to $100,000, with over $500,000 in total investments and more to come. He predicted 2019 could be a big year for the city's core.

Another area that is the focus of continual improvement is the city's trails and park systems.

“We're tying to give back to the taxpayers some recreational opportunities without them having to pay more,” he said. “That's important.”

Brandt credited City Administrator Mark Desotell, department heads and employees “who are second to none” for much of the successes over the past decade.

“It's easy to look good when you have great people working with you,” Brandt said. “We are all working to make the community attractive to younger people who want to come home.”

But there certainly are challenges ahead. Antigo, like communities across the nation, is facing problems with drug use and abuse, which will requires action across all levels of society to combat.

“Clearly it is the biggest social problem,” Brandt said. “And it is the biggest drain on public funds there is right now.”

At 65 years of age and with five grandchildren, Brandt could be expected to consider slowing down. The mayor's job offers minimal pay, especially when considered on a per hour basis.

But the mayor said he is continuing to enjoy the job and the challenges it presents.

“Being mayor is a unique position. You can be as involved or uninvolved as you as you want to be,” Brandt said. “I'm quite involved and I take this responsibility seriously.

“This is my home and has always been my home,” he added. “I want to see it prosper and do well.”
space

Mayor Bill Brandt in the lobby at City Hall, a very familiar place.

Bill Brandt posed to begin sixth term
space
Mayor Bill Brandt is closing in on a record.

Following this week's filing deadline, Brandt is poised to begin his sixth two-year term leading the city of Antigo. That will tie him with Miles “Mike” Stanke as the longest-serving mayor in Antigo's history.

“I take seriously the trust this community put in me as mayor,” Brandt said “I try to come in every day and do what is right and best for the city.”

Stanke, who died in 2013, served as mayor from 1991 to 2003. Brandt was first elected in 2009 and is running for another two-year term without opposition. It will formally begin following the April general election.

Brandt shifted to the mayoral position in 2009. The 1972 Antigo High School graduate served on the police force for 28 years, 11 as chief, retiring just a few months before taking over as mayor.

“As police chief, you are busy taking care of your own house, or department,” Brandt said. “As mayor, you're looking after everyone's house.”

Brandt's first term came as the Great Recession was gripping the country, and Antigo was getting hit hard, with businesses shedding jobs and the city forced to severely limit expenses through cutbacks and staff reductions done through attrition.

“Those were challenging times and we recognized that it was important to focus on our existing industries,,” Brandt said. “We had job losses but you can regain those jobs. Once an industry leaves, you'll never get it back.”

Brandt and the Common Council went to work, assisting industries through public improvement fund loans, which allowed manufactures to maintain facilitiesand jobsin Antigo and in some instances, close plants elsewhere and transfer the workforce here.

It was a controversial step, but Brandt said most of those funds, which were essentially city debt, have been repaid as manufacturers have prospered.

“It helped our businesses stay here and be in a position to grow as they came out of the recession,” he said. “It was very important to take care of the businesses we had.”

As the nationand communityemerged from the fiscal crisis, Brandt and the council switched to other priorities, including growing a skilled labor force to meet the needs of industry.

It is an ongoing challenge, with manufacturers, the Antigo school district, city, the Langlade County Economic Development Corporation and Northcentral Technical College all working together to educate students and retrain adults to compete in the modern job market.

“It's the number one concern among manufacturers.” Brandt said. “They have jumped in and are very much a part of the process.

“It's kind of a full circle,” he added. “At first, we were concerned about keeping jobs, now we are looking to find more employees to fill the jobs our manufacturers have.”

He pointed to a variety of success stories, ranging from Sartori, which in recent years upgraded its cheese-making abilities here, and Hydratight, which expanded and brought in manufacturing lines from elsewhere, to Volm Companies and Fresh Tech, which greatly expanded facility, Karl's Transport, in the midst of constructing a major new complex on the south side, and perhaps the largest of all, CoVantage Credit Union, which is adding a third story to its downtown headquarters.

Other challenges are also being addressed, the mayor said. Chief among them is the downtown, struggling as are others across the nation as shoppers moved first to “big box” outliers and now to on-line retailing.

The city is working in a number of ways, Brandt said,. It has awarded $90,000 through its facade grant program, which business owners have leveraged for over $550,000 in investments in storefronts. And its entrepreneurship grant program, in conjunction with the county's economic development corporation and private partner CoVantage Credit Union has awarded close to $100,000, with over $500,000 in total investments and more to come. He predicted 2019 could be a big year for the city's core.

Another area that is the focus of continual improvement is the city's trails and park systems.

“We're tying to give back to the taxpayers some recreational opportunities without them having to pay more,” he said. “That's important.”

Brandt credited City Administrator Mark Desotell, department heads and employees “who are second to none” for much of the successes over the past decade.

“It's easy to look good when you have great people working with you,” Brandt said. “We are all working to make the community attractive to younger people who want to come home.”

But there certainly are challenges ahead. Antigo, like communities across the nation, is facing problems with drug use and abuse, which will requires action across all levels of society to combat.

“Clearly it is the biggest social problem,” Brandt said. “And it is the biggest drain on public funds there is right now.”

At 65 years of age and with five grandchildren, Brandt could be expected to consider slowing down. The mayor's job offers minimal pay, especially when considered on a per hour basis.

But the mayor said he is continuing to enjoy the job and the challenges it presents.

“Being mayor is a unique position. You can be as involved or uninvolved as you as you want to be,” Brandt said. “I'm quite involved and I take this responsibility seriously.

“This is my home and has always been my home,” he added. “I want to see it prosper and do well.”
space

Mayor Bill Brandt in the lobby at City Hall, a very familiar place.
2019
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