After 15 years as a Town of Oregon board supervisor, Phil Van Kampen is ready for a change.
Van Kampen plans to step down from his town role as he moves to the Village of Oregon the first week of August, he told the Observer. But he said he’s not done with local government just yet.
While serving the Town of Oregon, Van Kampen said he has been an active member of the Oregon Area Senior Center work group, the Oregon Area Fire/EMS District Commission and the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission as a representative of the Dane County Towns Association. In recalling those involvements, Van Kampen said he is leaving behind a legacy of cooperation between governmental bodies and actively listening to his constituents’ grievances.
“I’ve made it my mission since 2005 to maintain good relationships between the towns and the village,” he said.
Town clerk Jennifer Hanson told the Observer in a July 16 email two residents already had expressed interest in the soon to be vacant seat – Plan Commission member Brian Duffin and Park Board member Kate Gladding. How the town will choose among the two candidates and any others who might be interested has yet to be determined, Hanson said.
When Van Kampen moved to the Town of Oregon in 2000, he brought with him a background in psychology – stemming from both his college education at the Madison Area Technical College and The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a family of 17 siblings, 12 biological.
So when he ran for Town Board in 2005, Van Kampen said he liked the idea of being able to help citizens directly without the layers of bureaucracy you find in larger municipalities. He recalled winning by four votes.
“I went in with an interest (in local politics), and then I found out how important it was for residents to maintain the town’s rural character,” Van Kampen said.
Van Kampen has viewed his Town Board role as that of a caretaker – the ditches get mowed, the roads get plowed during the winter and when a resident calls, the board hears that person out before it makes a final decision.
Building on that value, he became involved with the Oregon Area Fire/EMS District in 2005, senior center in 2010 and the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission from 2008-2011.
He said working with the district has been “the part of my job that I’ve enjoyed the most.”
“Working with (Chief Glenn Linzmeier) and excellent staff … that will be one thing I miss especially,” Van Kampen said.
He said his next steps are to settle into his new Village of Oregon home with his wife, and eventually dive into the local government scene.
“I suspect I will probably get involved in some way … maybe ask to serve on a committee,” Van Kampen said.