Schoen Settles Into Eau Claire City Council Post
North Side resident hopes to use environmental knowledge in new role
Jessica Schoen is hoping to put her professional and personal experience to work as the newest member of the Eau Claire City Council.
In late May, Schoen was selected by City Council members from among four applicants to fill a vacancy created when Emily Berge was elected City Council president. Schoen now represents District 1 on the council, which includes most of the northeast part of the city, until next spring’s election.
Schoen, who describes herself as a very civically engaged person, was appointed to the city’s Waterways and Parks Commission shortly after moving to town in 2018. A native of Kenosha and a graduate of UW-Stevens Point, Schoen is an environmental enforcement specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and she previously worked for Dunn County and a private engineering firm.
Schoen’s ability to ask knowledgeable and pointed questions about environmental issues as a member of the Waterways and Parks Commission brought her to the attention of several City Council members, who encouraged her to apply for the council vacancy this spring.
“I do think the environmental background and technical skill set that I have just helps me understand some of those really important issues,” she said, “and I think the community in Eau Claire is really overall very environmentally motivated and focused.”
I do think the environmental background and technical skill set that I have just helps me understand some of those really important issues, and I think the community in Eau Claire is really overall very environmentally motivated and focused.
eau claire city council
During her council tenure, Schoen expects to work on issues such as the contamination of the city’s drinking water by PFAS, often dubbed “forever chemicals.” One of the city’s PFAS hotspots is the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport, which is in Schoen’s council district.
She also hopes to encourage residents to get engaged in the just-launched Century Code Update, which will revamp the city’s zoning code. While zoning may not seem like an exciting topic, it’s critical to how the city will develop in the future and what kind of housing is available, Schoen said. In particular, she is interested in allowing the construction of more “accessory dwelling units” – such as secondary smaller homes or apartments above garages – on existing lots.
“If you allow for people to start doing more of that it can increase density, it can allow for people to ultimately have more affordable housing options,” she said.
Because she is only filling the remainder of Berge’s unexpired term, which will last for less than a year, Schoen said she plans to run for a full three-year term next April. Until then, she’s hoping to work diligently to study the issues that come before the City Council.
“I want to make well-informed decisions because I know that's how I (will) be impacting the community the most,” she said.