Biography: Doug Farmer
Address: 321 South 21st Street, La Crosse, WI 54601
Occupation: Soon-to-be-retired Executive Vice President of Park Bank
Education: Degree in Public Administration
Family: Wife, Betsey, of 42 years
Four sons Morgan – Central ‘96
Malcolm – Central ‘99
Gordon – Aquinas ‘03
Douglas – Aquinas ‘08
Previous Political Experience:
La Crosse City Council 1987 – 2012
La Crosse School Board 1992 – 1993; President
La Crosse County Board of Supervisors 1974 – 1984; Finance Chair
State of Wisconsin Banking Board of Review 2003 – Present
Western Technical College Board 1986 – 1991;
Chairman Search and Screen Committee for College President
Explain why you want to become the next mayor:
La Crosse is a great place to live. We have raised our family here and have benefited from all La Crosse has to offer: good schools, great parks and recreational facilities, safe neighborhoods and overall a strong economy. What makes La Crosse great though has been overshadowed by eight years of turmoil in City Hall. During my 26 years with the City Council, I served with four mayors — Zielke, Medinger, Johnsrud and Harter. It very clear that in the last eight years there has been a loss of respect for the position of mayor. People feel that no one is in charge at City Hall, and they are disappointed with the constant conflict between the mayor, many of the council members and the department heads. We have good staff and good department heads, all of whom deserve a chance to do their jobs. With experience, we can do better.
Top 2-3 issues facing the City of La Crosse:
My wife and I still live in our first house we bought in La Crosse — in the middle of a neighborhood. La Crosse is a city of unique and diverse neighborhoods. The most important issue we have is the safeguarding and preservation of those neighborhoods (and the substantial tax base they represent.) A city is measured by the strength and safety of its neighborhoods and how willing people are to live in the city and raise their family. How willing people are to call La Crosse home determines the success or failure of everything else. Downtown revitalization, prioritization of TIF's and new budgetary procedures will all come to nothing if we don't stabilize and preserve our neighborhoods (and the substantial tax base they represent).
The City can and should play a major role. We can enforce existing ordinances, not only for various maintenance standards but also for criminal activity. What I have learned is that if you enforce the smallest of ordinances effectively, you can affect 90 percent of the problem. The police call it the "Broken Window Theory" of policing.
Additionally, the City has a Housing Rehabilitation Committee, which I chaired for 20 years. This program helps individual homeowners rehab their own homes though low interest rates, and has improved more than 1,000 owner-occupied homes in our core neighborhoods and caused an increase in the city tax base with very little cost to the taxpayers. This program can and should be expanded.
La Crosse has a weak mayor-strong council form of government. The mayor has to earn the respect of the people he works with by demonstrating leadership, knowledge and experience. Our most successful mayors have either had extensive council experience (Mayor Zielke) or legislative experience (Mayor Medinger). The other 10 candidates would all bring skills to the mayor's office, but collectively they combine for two terms on the City Council and one term on the County Board — all spread among three separate candidates. This lack of experience would guarantee the next four years would look a lot like the turmoil of the last eight years. With experience, we can do better.