EagleHerald staff writer
TOWN OF PESHTIGO—Considerable focus, directed purpose and dedicated compassion for her neighbors in the Town of Peshtigo (TOP) propelled Cindy Boyle’s campaign for Town Board chairperson. Following the result of Tuesday’s election, it appears that Peshtigo residents welcome that drive.
After a tireless campaign for chairperson, a campaign with origins that in many ways extends its roots decades into the past, sown—literally and figuratively—into the groundwater sifting beneath Peshtigo and Marinette, Boyle finds herself in that chair, ready to unearth some change.
Boyle seized the election 713 votes to her opponent David Dionne’s 524.
“I feel optimistic, very grateful and encouraged,” Boyle told the EagleHerald the day after the election, following the months of community door-to-door, face-to-face engagements. “It was extremely gratifying and motivating to actually have those conversations with people.”
As she addresses the various issues facing Town of Peshtigo residents, moving forward Boyle maintains that kind of in-person conversation with community members, in addition to the contemporary technologies of digital communication.
Inevitably, water will sit at the core of many discussions.
Boyle made no secret that her main drive in seeking the position centered around the town’s ongoing water contamination issues, which began decades early with the leaching of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) into the groundwater that supplies the private drinking water wells owned by hundreds of town residents. Since at least the 1970s, the Fire Technology Center (FTC) in Marinette, currently operated by Tyco Fire Products, LP, (Tyco) performed outdoor firefighting tests of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), which contain PFAS. Those chemicals leached into the environment, creating a large plume of contaminated ground and surface water centered on the FTC, ultimately permeating into Peshtigo wells.
“I didn’t try to hide … that my main platform for running was the water issue,” Boyle said. “And it remains that.”
However, Boyle underscored, her objectives moving forward encompass an inclusive list of topics and goals in addition to water. And for Boyle, achieving those aims takes not only a principled dedication on the part of town leadership but also an efficient line of open communication. She strives for a town board that demonstrates equal ability in disseminating vital information to the public while at the same time maintaining an open ear and a compassionate hand on the pulse of the public’s needs.
“There are a lot of relevant and pressing matters for the town,” she said. “And all of them need to be given adequate consideration. In order to do that, and to avoid issues being pushed to the back burner, my initial objectives are really geared toward building inclusion.”
She hopes to build teams of people within the community that can enhance that inclusiveness and then generate the productivity it takes to meet the needs of Town of Peshtigo residents.
As an activist for both the environment and people, Boyle maintains a strong intimacy to that type of inclusion and communication. In February of 2020, she was among several area residents who provided Wisconsin State Senate testimony in Madison, seeking stringent PFAS legislation. And throughout the Marinette and Peshtigo PFAS crisis, Boyle brought her voice to the frontlines, disseminating information and striving to hold accountable, those responsible.
“I want to try and bring a lot of talent to the table so that we can be as productive as we can as a board and as a community,” Boyle said. “To make sure that everything is firing on all cylinders with immediate, mid and long term goals and really start to drive some outcomes … water will be a significant priority with respect to that.”
Taking in the big picture, Boyle feels optimistic about TOP’s future and the part its residents play in that future. Moreover, the seeds for the type of inclusion and desire for change she spoke to appear ready to burgeon among the residents. To that point, Boyle cited the fact that seven candidates vied for three positions in a town race.
“I think that is fantastic,” she said. “That alone is a positive sign, and the amount of engagement (throughout the campaign) from residents … (it) was extremely inspiring.”