Four for three seats at village of Luck

Mary Stirrat | Staff writer
Mike Miller, Nick Mueller, Ron Steen and Sonja Jensen. - Photos provided
LUCK – Four candidates are running for three seats on the Luck Village Board. On the ballot will be incumbents Sonja Jensen, Mike Miller and Ron Steen. Also running is newcomer Nick Mueller.
Below are the candidates’ responses to questions about why they are running, how they will be an asset to the board and village, and what issues they believe the village will be addressing in the near future.
Sonja Jensen
Sonja Jensen has been on the village board for the past two years and has been serving on the library committee and the finance and personnel committee.
When asked why she is seeking another term Jensen said “I am very passionate about our community, about how we can grow together and collaborate to continue to make improvements for all.
“This is why I am seeking re-election.”
Jensen believes her 20 years as a social worker prior to joining the family business gives her a unique perspective.
“I’ve worked in all areas and with all ages,” she said. “I believe that my skills in working with children, families and professionals can be utilized as we work through issues, concerns and changes within our community. I believe this is true for working with other communities as well.”
An issue that is very important to the Luck community right now is the school referendum, said Jensen.
“The village and the school district work hand in hand to continue to make improvements that will hopefully help our school, community and our downtown continue to grow,” she said.
“We need to have new families move into our area and encourage work in our areas as well.”
Another prime issue the village is currently working on is housing availability, not just in Luck but also in other communities surrounding the village.
It’s important that the village is working with the Polk County Housing Development and being part of the housing study to address those concerns, she said.
This is helping the village play a positive role in decreasing a significant shortage in housing while encouraging growth in the workforce, enabling people to live closer to where they work.
By providing more affordable housing, she said, the village will be able to bring more families into the community, which is positive for the community as well as the school district.
Jensen has lived in Luck with her husband for 20 years. They have three children. Isabelle is a sophomore at UW-La Crosse, Levi is a senior at Luck and Wyatt is a sophomore at Luck.
“We are fortunate to have a family business, Jensen Furniture, in downtown Luck. We are busy with our kids and we stay involved with church.
“As a family, we enjoy the outdoors and time spent together.”
Mike Miller
Mike Miller is seeking his second two-year term on the board. He is on the finance/personnel committee and the public works committee, and is chair of the police committee. He is also the board’s designee to the North Land Municipal Ambulance board, where he has been elected as board president.
He said he is seeking another term both because there are projects in the works that he would like to see through to completion and because he wants to continue serving the community.
Much has been accomplished in the past two years, Miller noted. The village is in “great financial shape”, Main Street has been redone with new sidewalks, curbs, gutters and road, the village has worked collaboratively with the school to hire an additional full-time police officer and a new walking park is taking shape at 2nd Street and Butternut Ave.
There is more to do, however.
“I feel we have started and will soon begin many significant improvements to the village of Luck,” he said. “I would like to be a part of seeing these projects come to fruition.”
For the big picture, Miller would like to see the village grow in a way that fits its character but brings in additional residents and visitors.
This includes meeting housing needs, filling vacant Main Street buildings and possibly establishing a business park.
Specifically, Miller would like to continue being part of the process of working with the school to possibly open up land for additional housing while providing a safer way for students to access the school building.
Regarding the vacancies on Main Street, Miller feels that either retail or other business offices would be a good fit for the village. The street is attractive, and having filled buildings would be more likely to draw people.
Short-term tax breaks may be a way to encourage new businesses on Main Street, he said, since they would give a start-up a “breather until they get on their feet.”
Miller describes himself as “very fiscally conservative,” and feels discussion should be held and questions asked before the board approves things that might have a financial impact. He has sometimes been the only board member to vote against spending, such as the replacement of the new trashcan lids.
He credits some of his fiscal conservatism to his career at UPS, where he started as a driver and retired after 25 years in management. “I don’t like just forking over cash unless it’s for a very good cause,” he said.
“I can assure residents of the village that I will always consider the financial aspects.”
He also feels that his experience with UPS honed his problem-solving skills. UPS management has a very good reputation for immediately dealing with issues that come up, and dealing with them in an appropriate way.
Miller and his wife, Joan, have lived in Luck for 10 years. They love to travel, having been to Asia, Europe, Central America and the Caribbean. Their favorite destinations, however, are all in the United States. He also currently serves on the board of directors at Polk Burnett Propane.
Nick Mueller
Nick Mueller has been a resident of the Luck area since early elementary school, when he moved here from Balsam Lake.
“It’s a great place,” he said.
Having spent his lifetime here, he said, is the reason he decided to run for his first term on the board.
“I’ve lived in this area most of my life,” he said. “I care about this area.”
Mueller believes that, as a board member, his determination will serve the village well.
“I can be a little stubborn,” he said, “but I am also pretty open to different things and ideas. If I think it’s a good idea I will be pretty passionate about it.
“You have to have an open mind when it comes to new ideas and new ventures.”
Luck has a lot to offer, he said, including a grocery, hardware store, pharmacy, lumber yard and other businesses, not to mention the library, museum, Music in the Park, golf course and fishing opportunities.
He feels a priority is to find ways to promote the community and draw more people in, both for special events like Lucky Days and Winter Carnival, but also to live and work. There is potential for new businesses to move in to vacant buildings on Main Street and on the highway.
“We have so much for a small community,” he said.
At the same time, he said, there are unanswered questions like what is happening with those vacant buildings on Main Street, and what can be done to encourage someone to take advantage of them.
He said he is willing to ask those questions. As a board member, he said, he will not only ask questions but work to help find the answers.
Mueller and his wife, Stephanie, have a two-year-old daughter named Tarynn. Mueller has been a bus driver for the past 12 years and Stephanie works at Sterling Bank.
They love spending time together as a family and doing things outdoors. Mueller plays golf and is a volunteer coach for Luck’s eighth-grade travel ball.
“I’ve realized as I’m getting older that I want to become more a part of things and know more about what’s going on in the community I live in,” he said.
Ron Steen
Ron Steen has served on the village board since 2016 and has been on the water and sewer committee since that time.
“I got on this committee in the final states of our up-to-date addition to our sewer plant,” he said. “Seth Petersen (public works director) gave me the inside information about how the new plant really works for everyone in the village.
“We are starting the process of getting new water meters in the village because the meters are out of date and to get our water system more efficient to save money.”
Over the last two years he has been working with public services to keep village streets maintained. This includes repairing and replacing street segments, which is “a never-ending task in town.”
When asked why he is seeking another term Steen responded, “The reason I am seeking another term is to continue to contribute to the committees that I am on and to help the Luck community grow and work to attract new businesses to our town.”
Steen describes himself as a very good listener, willing to hear multiple views on projects needing to be done.
“Listening to community members and sharing their ideas and comments to other board members is very important to me,” he said. “I am easy to get along with and have the ability to work with everyone in order to solve problems in the village.”
He feels he is a team player and says he enjoys working on the village board to solve problems for Luck.
“I enjoy being part of the solution,” he said.
In his time on the board Steen has seen that new problems come up every week that need to be addressed right away.
“The big task is how to keep taxes down for everyone in the village,” Steen said, “and having a budget in place to spend the village money wisely.”
Other challenges right now include maintaining the safety of community members, keeping the village healthy, continuing to grow and making Luck a welcoming community.
“I will be part of the team to make sound decisions for the village of Luck,” he said.
Steen has lived in Luck most of life, moving away only during his college years. He enjoys many hobbies and activities, most of which can be done around the Luck community.
“Growing up here and raising a family here,” he said, “I have been a positive advocate for Luck my entire life.

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