Downtown Sparta business woman making bid for mayor
With the April 2 nonpartisan election still over five months away, Sparta business woman Kristen Gust is the first candidate to file candidacy papers for Sparta Mayor.
Current Mayor Ron Button's term will expire in April and he has indicated he won't make a decision on seeking re-election until next month.
In addition to owning and running the Cork & Barrel Wine & Bourbon bar on Water Street, Gust holds a full time position at Organic Valley as an inside sales manager.
She has lived in Sparta for the past three years and has become involved in a number professional and community service organizations.
“I am a passionate and concerned resident of Sparta who wants to serve my community on a larger scale,” she said.
Gust grew up in Oconomowoc where she said her passion for service sparked at the age of 18 when she enlisted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard and later served a tour in Iraq as a transportation operator.
“My experience serving in Iraq taught me to work efficiently and effectively in chaotic and high-pressure situations as well as develop leadership skills,” she said.
After leaving the military, Gust earned a bachelor’s in English from UW–Oshkosh and a master’s in business communication from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.
Gust currently serves as president of the Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce Board and is a member of the Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce Membership & Growth Committee. She also is a member of the Sparta Young Professionals Club and the Sparta Half Marathon & Triathlon committee as well as treasurer and secretary for a local political organization.
Gust has served on the Sparta Boys & Girls Club Board of Directors and chaired the club's Resource Development Committee. While she no longer serves on the board, she said she continues to support the club through volunteering at special events, including the House of Shadows, Annual Golf Outing and the Sparta Stampede run.
The River Valley Media Group and the 7 Rivers Alliance recently named her a Rising Star under 40.
“I like to keep myself busy and actively engaged in the community," she said. "I am a proud Sparta resident and come to you with passion and an unwavering commitment to make our community more prosperous and it would be an honor to serve as the mayor of Sparta”
A campaign kick-off party has been scheduled for Friday, Nov. 9 at 5:30 p.m. at Cork & Barrel. The event is open to the public.
Candidates can file candidacy papers with the city clerk's office at any time but nomination papers must be filed between Dec. 1 and Jan. 2. If there are more than two candidates, a primary election will be held on Feb. 19.
In addition to the mayor's seat, even numbered aldermanic seats also will be up for election in April. They include Kevin Brueggeman-Ward 2, Norm Stanek-Ward 4, Ed Lukasek-Ward 6 and Kevin Riley-Ward 8.