APPLETON COMMON COUNCIL DISTRICT 4 CANDIDATE
Virgil Van Asten
I was born in Appleton and grew up on Fremont Street in a house I still own. I went to Richmond, Madison, Appleton East, and currently live on Kernan Avenue with my wife and two daughters.
In 1988, I started working in the computer industry. In 1997, I founded Integrated Solutions Inc. and for the last 25 years, I have been a business owner in the city of Appleton providing Managed I.T services, software and hardware systems for Wisconsin business and municipalities.
The last 5 years I’ve been a volunteer mentor for my daughter’s High School STEM & VEX Robotics programs. We help students build amazing competition robots, sending some teams to the Worlds Tournament, and turning out future engineers every year.
Appleton and Family have always been very important to me. It’s where I and my brothers and sister grew up, and its where we’re raising our daughters today. I own 2 houses, and an office building, where my business here in Appleton.
Success is a team sport, and no matter where we started, we are in this together.
What are your plans/ideas to increase affordable housing in Appleton?
Most of our Social Services are managed by Outagamie County. Their employees deal with this issue every day, all day long. I would ask them to advise us on what’s needed. I would then ask Outagamie County and the Appleton Police Department, if they have adequate resources, Health care, Treatment, Job train programs, etc. for the expanding population. I would than look for citizen input and do what we can. What I would not do is zone for affordable housing, walk away and wish them good luck. If we are going to improve the quality of life for everyone. We have to make sure built the foundations to accomplish that.
Do you support the creation of a Climate Specialist Staff position, as recommended by the Climate Change Taskforce, for the City of Appleton?
Our environment is a much more pressing concern. The amount of plastic we use, retention pond to protect our river, planting trees and gardens where we can, to help clean our air. These are things we can and are doing. Hiring a Climate Specialist to balance the Carbon in Appleton’s air between 0.04% (where it is now) and 0.02% (where plants start to die) does not seem like the best use of resources
Add up payroll, benefits, office resources, and program funds we couldn’t add a Climate Specialist for under $100,000 a year. We could more effectively use those funds to promote science and engineering (STEM) programs in our high schools. Creating the engineers, that will build better industrial filtration systems and truly biodegradable plastics to solve this problem long term.
In the meantime, I trust Appleton’s citizens! Everyone who has a good idea for a project can write a resolution proposal for the Council, where we can appropriate funds and hire experts on an as needed bias.
What is your priority for how Appleton should utilize American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds?
Making sure we can remove the lead pipe from our water system. If we look at the history of Flint MI, one thing we should learn, is a small PH change can cause big problems with lead pipe. Lead exposure can cause brain and nerve damage as while as other health problems. Appleton does not want that! We deal with it now or later, also it’s just the right thing to do!
Improve the virtual learning environment for our school. Subsidize internet access for our low-income students when needed. Improve video conferencing system in the classroom. With better systems, kids could participate if there out sick for a couple of days or longer. We could also live stream and record daily classes, automatically posting them on YouTube or a similar service for a short time so students can review the daily lessons when there are doing their homework or just need to review.
Upgrade our students from Chromebooks to PC’s. Chromebooks fit within a budget, but we are supposed to be educating theses kid to be employable adults who can support their families and contribute to their communities. Most companies use PC’s, we should be teaching with similar tools to what they will be using as adults.