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2 incumbents face challenger in Franklin

March 19, 2014

Franklin — Three candidates are running in the April 1 election for two open seats on the Franklin School Board, including two incumbents.

Tim Nielson, vice president of the board, has been a Franklin resident since 2001 and was elected to the board that year. He has two daughters currently enrolled in the district.

"I'm running for re-election as my wife and I are very active in our children's education and this is a way for me to give back," Nielson said. "When (issues) come before the board, I take my responsibility seriously and make the best decisions I can."

Nielson is currently president of Popp Dental Supply LLC, located in Greendale.

"I feel like I bring a level-headed and pragmatic approach to the board and a small business perspective," he said.

Although he doesn't have any specific goals in mind if re-elected, Nielson said he does hope to assist in expanding middle school enrollment to include 6th-graders.

"It would be nice to see the (Forest Park) Middle School accommodate the 6th grade in the future," he said. "This would help alleviate enrollment pressures at the elementary schools and give the families at the middle school a greater sense of ownership with the students attending for three years."

A second incumbent

Incumbent Linda Witkowski also is running for re-election on the board, having served on it since 2008. She is currently the board treasurer and has also served as the board clerk. She has served a role in multiple committees, including Curriculum, Finance, and Community and Governmental Relations.

"I am running for re-election to continue to support high expectations for public schools in Franklin," Witkowski said. "I recognize that great schools are about everyone working together, including parents and the community."

She is the board representative on the Franklin Education Foundation Board and is the budget manager for Waukesha County.

"The community expects a school board to spend taxpayer money wisely," Witkowski said. "I have 33 years of experience with public sector budgets, including public facilities and state and federal funding formulas. I can be an important voice on the school board for fiscal issues."

Witkowski, who has two children with learning disabilities and one in the gifted and talented program, has been actively involved with the Learning Disabilities Association of America for more than 13 years and currently serves as its Wisconsin treasurer.

"My goals are to improve district planning efforts and budgeting/monitoring processes," she said.

The challenger

John Paul Thompson, a resident of Franklin for 20 years, is also running for a seat on the board.

Thompson has not served on any school or city committees before, but wants to add a new perspective to the school board. Thompson and his wife have no children, but do have nieces and nephews that are in the Franklin School District, he said.

"Through (30 years of) military experience, which started as an E-1 in the U.S. Navy and ended as a major in the U.S. Army, I found that it is wise to listen to and understand the viewpoints of those who disagree with you," Thompson said. "As an officer in the U.S. Army, I was responsible for everything to run a company or battalion, such as administration, budgeting ...and planning for the future needs of the unit."

Those skills, Thompson said, can be assets when serving on the School Board.

"If elected, I plan to listen to the people of Franklin, including those with differing opinions from mine, before I vote on any item. I want to do what is best for the school and the community, regardless of my own personal feelings and/or wants."

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