Local Government Feature: Sheri Hartzheim

District 13 Alderperson Sheri Hartzheim has represented northeast Appleton on the Common Council since she was elected in 2021. Hartzheim defeated former Council President Kyle Lobner by two votes on Tuesday, April 6, 2021. Hartzheim also ran for a seat on the Appleton Area School Board in that election, which she lost, and she ran for a seat on the Outagamie County Board of Supervisors in April 2022, which she also lost. 

According to a candidate statement put out by Hartzheim when she ran for County Supervisor, she has lived in Appleton for the past twenty years and is a retired business owner. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and media studies, before obtaining an associate degree in accounting from Lakeshore Technical College in 1996. In her candidate statement, she said she was inspired to run for office by her father.  

“I grew up with a father who was passionate about public service who taught me that I should do all that I am able to serve and represent my neighbors,” said Hartzheim on her candidate statement.  

Hartzheim serves on the Parks and Recreation Committee, the Human Resources/IT Committee, the Safety and Licensing Committee and the Parade Committee. 

Hartzheim ran for County Supervisor because she believes the county should encourage private affordable development to address rising housing costs in Appleton, according to her statement. She also ran on balancing growth and land preservation and using the money from the American Recovery Act to pay down municipal debt.  

Photo of Hartzheim. Photo sourced from Hartzheim’s campaign website.

Hartzheim has identified herself as an independent conservative on Twitter. On Twitter, she has also retweeted claims that masking is ineffective to stop the spread of COVID-19. As of Jan. 6, 2023, her most recent retweet is of Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), defending his decision to hold up federal government spending. 

On Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, as the school year began, Hartzheim held a press conference in front of the Appleton Area School District (AASD) Leadership Center to protest its masking policies. She accused the district and its teachers of discriminating against, abusing and embarrassing students who weren’t wearing masks correctly. When she attempted to enter the Board of Education meeting to give public comment, she was denied entry unless she wore a mask, which she refused to do. She accused the Board of engaging in illegal activity due to her being barred entry.  

“This policy is a tyrannical doubling down of the inadequately researched and public health-coerced masking policy that is already in place for our children in our schools,” said Hartzheim at the press conference.  

Although she opposes mask mandates, Hartzheim claimed at a candidate forum between herself and Lobner in March 2021 that she supports efforts to reduce the spread of the virus. In the same candidate forum, she claimed that she does not advocate for austerity – strict economic measures imposed by governments to reduce debt that usually involve cutting public spending and raising taxes. 

However, during the 2023 budget negotiations, she introduced a failed amendment to cut back a pay increase for city employees from 5% to 4%, a move which District 6 Alderperson Denise Fenton characterized as a “slap in the face” to city employees. In separate interviews with District 2 Alderperson Vered Meltzer and District 12 Alderperson Nate Wolff, they agreed with Fenton’s characterization.  

Hartzheim, alongside District 15 Alderperson Chad Doran, also voted against a resolution introduced by Fenton, Meltzer and District 9 Alderperson Alex Schultz to put out a statement in support of the city clerk, poll workers and election inspectors in the City of Appleton ahead of the 2022 midterms. She also voted for an amendment put forward by Doran to strip language from the resolution stating that election officials around the country are facing harassment and intimidation, that the city clerk and other nonpartisan officials are best equipped to handle elections, that the council will oppose any future attempts to take power away from these officials and that the city should stand behind these election workers. Additionally, she was the only alderperson to vote against the establishment of an Advisory Panel on Sustainability and Climate Resilience to help the city implement its climate action plan.  

Hartzheim initially agreed to sit down for an interview with The Lawrentian, but since November, she has not responded to follow-up questions or attempts to set up an interview.