Council approves new Dist. 4 alder

Despite extra wait, Selsor was only applicant for seat
Bill Livick


The Common Council last week selected the only candidate in the running to serve the remainder of former Ald. Larry Peterson’s seat in District 4.

Tom Selsor, a semi-retired developer and former assistant professor of English, will represent the district until the term expires in April 2014. The council appointed him unanimously.

Peterson, who also had been appointed to the council to fill a vacant seat, stepped down in December due to increased work obligations.

In both cases, the council asked the candidates to answer a four-question application in writing and then appear before the council to answer the same questions in person, along with any other questions the council might have.

The council initially intended to name Peterson’s successor in January, but when it turned out that only one person had submitted an application, the council extended the application deadline by one month.

Selsor and his wife, Carolyn, have lived in Stoughton three-and-a-half years. They moved here after spending some 35 years in Indiana near South Bend, where Selsor was president of a small development company, The Berkley Corporation.
“We built over 200 homes and did four subdivisions, both in Michigan and Indiana,” Selsor told the Hub. “We weren’t a big company, but were licensed in both states. We developed several properties, little shopping centers and whatnot, and we’ve sold some and some are still for sale.”
Selsor is originally from California but earned a bachelor’s degree from Ripon College. He later earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught literature at the college level for about five years, first at Lincoln (Ill.) College and later at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
He then established a development company and served as company president.
He also served 12 years in the Army Reserve (1969-81) and is a licensed Real Estate broker.
Since moving to Stoughton, Selsor has been a member of the Yahara River Grocery Co-op Board of Directors and also on the board of directors at Kensington Square, where he and his wife of 45 years live.
Selsor and his wife met at Ripon College and later lived in Madison while he attended graduate school. They had two children while living in Madison (and two more later). Selsor said they had always loved Madison and were excited to move back for their retirement.
They ultimately chose to settle in Stoughton after a serendipitous set of circumstances.
“We were on about our third trip up here to find a place in Madison and we got into a traffic jam and decided to turn and go through Stoughton,” Selsor recalled. “It happened to be a Saturday during Syttende Mai. We thought, what holiday could this be?
“So we stopped and got out and just loved the little library and the parade and the downtown.”
Even though their goal was to move to Madison, he said, they began looking for houses in Stoughton because they “just loved it here.”
 “I think Madison was good for us then, but now it’s a little more of big city to us, but Stoughton’s just right,” he said.
Selsor answered some of the Hub’s questions last week.

Hub: What prompted you to throw your hat in the ring for city council?

TS: I actually read in the Hub that the seat was open. I didn’t know what district we’d be in, so I looked it up and it happened to be our district, and it was an appointment, which I thought would be nice because I didn’t know if I wanted to go through the process of trying to run for office.

I had no idea that I would be the only applicant. But that was a month ago, and they decided to delay the decision because there was only one applicant. It came up again and I was still the only applicant.

I like contributing, so it just seemed like a good thing to do and a good way to learn about the town.

Hub: The question of the council’s size comes up now and then. Are you concerned that there may be too many people serving on the Common Council?

TS: I was at that discussion, just to see how the council operates. One person brought up a good point, and there’s no way to know if it’s true, but he said perhaps people are relatively satisfied with the way things are going and there’s no big need for people to change things, so nobody feels a need to run for the council.

Hub: Do you have any municipal government experience?

TS: No, but I worked with government agencies a lot as a developer. I’ve never held an official office. I was president of a Home Builders Association. That was a 240-person organization; it was an administrative type of thing.

I was also on the Board of Directors for the Yahara River Grocery Co-op but stepped down.
Hub: What do you like to do when you have free time?

TS: We have a daughter and her husband and our grandson in McFarland. We do spend a lot of time with him because they both work and we like to help out. And we play tennis quite a bit with a couple here in town, and we like to travel quite a bit.

Council questions
The following questions and two others were put to Selsor by the Common Council.

Q: In your opinion, what are the most important current issues for the City of Stoughton? Please discuss one of these issues in detail and describe how you would lead a committee to a solution.

A: Maintaining the current infrastructure of the city, looking for new ways to support existing schools and business, being consistent and fair in following current guidelines and statutes.

On a committee to allocate funds for civic projects, I would encourage a range of ideas and alternatives, but do the research and background work to lead toward a consensus acceptable to all and best suited to Stoughton’s future progress.

Q: If there was an issue on the table that you agreed with, but your constituents disagreed with, how would you vote and why?

A: If it were a financial issue that was relatively inconsequential or that could be seen both ways, I’d probably vote for it. If it were an issue I felt strongly about, but could see that I might turn out to be wrong regardless, I would abstain from voting. If it were an issue of fairness or ethical treatment, I would vote my conscience regardless.

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