Know Your Commissioner: Jim Schuler
In our first Commissioner profile of 2021, we get to know Jim Schuler, Trustee for the Village of Maple Bluff. Jim comes to the Commission with years of local parks, rec, and water quality planning experience, as well as professional skills in communication and creative problem solving.
Jim Schuler was appointed to the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission in September 2020 after being nominated to the Dane County Cities & Villages Association by Maple Bluff’s Village President Tim O’Brien. He was a logical fit for the Commission given his 15 years of service to the Village, working on a variety of local planning issues that correspond to CARPC’s areas of focus.
As an “in-burb” with a high percentage of residents living in proximity to Lake Mendota, Maple Bluff is acutely aware of how the growth, planning, and activities of each community has the potential to impact its neighbors. Commissioner Schuler’s local-level experience with regional community and watershed planning lends a valuable perspective to CARPC proceedings. In turn, his role as CARPC Commissioner gives Jim the opportunity to learn more about best practices and resources employed by other communities to solve issues that Maple Bluff faces.
Outside of his public service roles, Jim works as a freelance marketing and communications consultant. In this line of work, he’s amassed almost 40 years of professional experience developing and executing communication strategies that are fact-based and measurable. CARPC has already benefitted from his input on our recent rebrand and outreach efforts.
Commissioner Trivia: Leveraging his knack for written communication and passion for watersports, Commissioner Schuler has traveled the world writing windsurfing articles.
Commissioner Schuler originally hails from the Twin Cities, though he can trace his lineage to a Swiss cheese maker who immigrated to Wisconsin in the early 20th century. He studied English and writing at Carroll College before completing graduate studies at the University of Massachusetts. He first came to Madison in 1979 to work for National Public Radio, transitioned into the private sector with local advertising agencies, and then established his own consulting firm.
Jim first developed an interest in lake issues as a windsurfer new to the City of Madison. This interest later led him to participate in the development of a greenspace and public access improvement plan for Law Park. Although the plan wasn’t ultimately enacted, the experience sparked Jim’s interest in public service, especially parks and water quality-related issues.
When he moved to Maple Bluff in 1988, he quickly became involved in Village government as a means of improving parks, recreation, and lake access in the community. He has since held a variety of roles in Maple Bluff’s government, including serving as Village President and working to establish a Tax Improvement District. In addition to his current role as Village Trustee, Jim presently serves as Chair of Maple Bluff’s Plan Commission and Finance Committee and holds a seat on the Ordinance Committee.
Commissioner Trivia: Jim and his daughter were members of a team that qualified to compete in the Wisconsin bar-trivia state championship tournament.
His most fulfilling Village projects have been creating the annual Maple Bluff Bocce Beach Blast that, since its inception, has raised over $250,000 for recreational equipment and programming; and the creation of Maple Bluff’s first Tax Incremental District which is improving the commercial district on Sherman Avenue annexed from the Town of Burke in 2007.
But his favorite affirmation of his community involvement was delivered one summer day twenty years ago when his then young son, Sam, ran into Jim’s home office to proclaim, “I just want you to know, I never want to live anywhere else,” before dashing off to his next activity.
In his free time, Commissioner Schuler enjoys spending time with his family and participating in outdoor activities such as cross-country skiing, windsurfing, biking, and running. He also volunteers his time to produce an annual fundraising video for The Road Home, a local nonprofit committed to ending family homelessness.