District 4 has a new representative after former Baraboo Common Council member Scott Sloan vacated the seat in early November when he moved out of the neighborhood.
Lifelong city resident Jason Kent contacted Mayor Mike Palm a day after the first and only council meeting with the vacancy.
The first meeting for Kent was a big one. Council members reviewed the final draft of the 2020 city budget before being asked to approve it.
“So far, there’s been a lot going on,” Kent said. “It’s been a positive experience. Everyone’s been positive, helpful.”
Kent said he made the decision to apply after speaking to his predecessor. The two had talked about local issues in the past, and when they were recently conversing, Kent said Sloan encouraged him to apply to test whether it was a position he would like to fill permanently.
“The person I talked it over with was the person I replaced,” Kent said. “He kind of talked me into it.”
Palm appointed Kent to council with the approval of council members during their meeting Nov. 26.
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City Clerk Brenda Zeman swore in Kent at the start of the meeting. Palm thanked Kent for taking on the responsibility of serving on the city council and the seven members present approved the appointment request.
The appointment remains until April, when the spring election decides who will hold the seat for the next term. Kent already has nomination papers ready to gather neighbors’ signatures, a requirement to be placed on the spring ballot.
The positive part of running for office will be to gain valuable feedback from residents within his ward as he gathers signatures for nomination papers due in the first week of January, Kent said. He recalled a number of years spent in Victory Heights during summers spent with his grandparents. The home they once owned now belongs to his mother and he is grateful to have a bit of familiarity as he pursues the chance to represent the city that has shaped him for decades.
“As things change, they also stay the same a little bit,” Kent said. “I look forward to the feedback.”
Kent said he has only lived away from his hometown for six years when he was deployed in the Navy. A 1992 Baraboo High School graduate, he went into service not long after and became certified as a nuclear power plant operator. Kent spent four years on the USS George Washington in Norfolk, Virginia, and was deployed three times, spending much of his time on the water in places like the Persian Gulf and the Adriatic Sea.
“I liked what I did in the Navy, but I kind of missed Baraboo,” Kent said.
So he traded his sea legs for dry land and returned home. As a certified electrician, he began working with the goal of supporting himself while pursuing further schooling. In February 1999, Kent began in the maintenance department of Teel Plastics Inc. He gained two state apprenticeships and became maintenance supervisor before a promotion to maintenance and facilities manager. Two decades later, he still works there as a production manager for two facilities.
Future goals for his work on city council remain uncertain for Kent as he adjusts to the position and his appointment to the council’s Finance/Personnel Committee.
“I think right now it’s too new for me,” Kent said, adding that he is focused on absorbing the information being provided to him for the moment. “It’ll be at least a couple of meetings before I know exactly what I want to focus on.”