Oconomowoc Area School Board: Thelen won't seek re-election
School Board official urges others to serve
Oconomowoc Area School District - After serving one three-year term, an incumbent on the Oconomowoc School Board has decided not to run for re-election.
Elizabeth Thelen said she made the decision in order to allow more time for work, but noted that it was a difficult conclusion to reach.
"You have to be very committed. It was a painstaking decision to make," Thelen said.
"My reason has to do with me growing my own business that I've had for 10 years," Thelen said.
"It's (the School Board) time consuming, but in a good way," she added.
Thelen, who runs a business consulting firm, said she does not rule out the possibility of another run for a seat on the School Board in the near future.
"At this point, I would consider it in a year or so," she said.
The small business owner said she would like to see more citizens take an interest in, and run for, the School Board.
She noted the discrepancy between the number of people who have applied to be considered for the board seat left vacant when a former member stepped down, to the far fewer who actually throw their hat in the ring for election.
"I think it's really critical to have good candidates willing to run and be elected, not just appointed, who actually want to serve and not just have an ax to grind," Thelen said.
"You have to show up and be prepared. You are one voice of seven," she advised.
In the spring election, incumbent Dave Guckenberger and newcomer Steve Zimmer will run for the two open posts on the School Board.
Thelen said that despite her intention not to run in the spring election, she plans to finish strong.
"I'm still dedicated and committed to the position," she said. "I have four more months to serve," Thelen added.
Those four months are expected to be critical ones for the school district which will be conducting a search for a new superintendent, after accepting the resignation of Dr. Pat Neudecker at its December meeting.
"The new selection of a superintendent will be huge. I will still be playing a role in that, and that will be huge. I hope we can pick from a lot of great people. I anticipate a lot of people will want that job," Thelen said.
She said serving on the board has been a great experience and urged others to consider the possibility.
"It's fascinating," Thelen said. "It's so interesting to learn what goes on behind the scenes. You have to be committed and dedicated, but anyone can do it. People make assumptions, but you just have to want to serve and have an interest," she explained.
"It does take a lot of time. It is not horrendous but you might have to give up something else," she cautioned.
Thelen was asked what she would tell residents about serving on the board.
"We need to get people to run and be a part of their community. Step up and try it. Get an inkling of what it takes to get engaged in the process. Try it. Do it. Serve.
"Serve your community, your school, your government. I think people think it is outside of themselves, but it isn't," she said.
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