Answer

Recovery of Lives and Livelihoods

PROBLEM: We are facing a health and economic crisis. As one resolves, the other must rise, safely. As United Way pointed out before COVID, 50% of La Crosse residents are one crisis away from poverty. The pandemic was that crisis. Yet, our nonprofits are hurting at a time when services are needed the most. We must put people back in jobs. The federal and state needs are great. We must turn to local solutions.

Our community is so generous. It's what caused me to run, recombination with seeing how my leadership skills and vision can help our community recover.

Our friends and neighbors must help friends and neighbors. 

MY SOLUTION: Greater La Crosse is filled with servant leaders. As mayor, I will call on the experts in food, shelter, and economic areas to identify needs. We will ask those who are able to step into serving the community and filling those needs. From our Rotaries to our Foundations to businesses that thrived during the pandemic to nonprofits to our faith community and to individuals – we need everyone to lean into local. Our friends and neighbors need our help.

Get City Hall In Order

This borrows from the phrasing "get your house in order" -- meaning to ensure that City Hall is functioning well with all the new leadership so that we can all move forward serving efficiently and effectively. Quite frankly, having so many new council members, a new mayor, and a new city council president is going to be a big learning curve for us all. We must get City Hall in order.

  • Leadership Development through a collaborative effort of common council and city staff
    • New Council Members Orientation must occur
    • Meetings with Department Heads & Continuing Council Members
      • Identify how we remove obstacles to prosperity (ex. liquor licenses, bus fares, economic development, )
      • Empower department leaders to lead and get them the tools they need
      • Determine existing and new measurements for how we know we are servicing our people well
    • Elect New Council President and build a great relationship with new council.
  • Establish a plan to reopen City Hall safely - when it is safe to do so and how we do it, in compliance with County Health

Identify the Needs of Our Friends and Neighbors

In my first month as Mayor I will convene a meeting of our nonprofits and invite surrounding governments to identify the needs of our people. These shared need blur boundaries. I did this work for four years – blurring three state borders, 13 county borders, education, and businesses. Our friends and neighbors cross borders for work and for services. Many are hurting. This pandemic impacted our most vulnerable and marginalized the hardest. We must collaborate with our surrounding communities and our County on meeting those needs. Why? Because we share people.

The areas of need we must identify:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Health (physical & mental)
  • Faith
  • Businesses / Economy
  • Education (K-12 and higher education)

Government can convene but does not need to lead all of these efforts. Nonprofits better aligned to maximize federal, state & local grants and donations. Government can convene and partner on efforts while shining a spotlight on solutions. Collectively, local mayors, chairmen, and presidents can call on our citizens to support.

On-Going Communication

When we share problems and solutions,

  • we build trust with our surrounding communities
  • it creates on-going communication

In the first 100 days, I will create ongoing communication opportunities with our surrounding communities and the County occurs.

Focus On Income (Without Raising Property Taxes)

The City Council made tough cuts to balance the budget and still had to increase property taxes slightly. Our ability to spend is never-ending. Getting money flowing in our community is vital to offset deeper cuts.

  • State and Federal Representatives: We must know what is or is not coming from state and federal sources.
    • I know Jill Billings, Brad Pfaff, Ron Kind, and the local staff for Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin.
    • As mayor, I will ensure we are communicating regularly.
    • We must express the needs here locally
  • Find Best Practices from Other Communities through the League of Municipalities I worked with the organization's head, Jerry Deschane when he was with the Wisconsin Builders Association and I was at the La Crosse Builders Association. We can learn how other communities are tackling tough issues.
  • Tourism: Develop plans with metrics for the safe, planned, reopening of the La Crosse Center & Tourism. Just like schools reopening and sports, we must try, have plans should increases occur, and adapt the plans.
  • Events: I served on their board of Explore La Crosse. I will work with them to safely bring back our tourism. The city budget relies on room tax dollars. It is important we put people back into hotels.
  • Small, Local Businesses: The mayor must be the cheerleader for our quality of life. Young professionals I worked with stated they love our outdoors and our locally owned shops and restaurants.
    • We must reclaim the $60 million in ADDITIONAL money spent online during the pandemic.
    • We are losing jobs. Every dollar spent locally has two-to-three times the impact as spending with a national company. Local businesses pay our friends and neighbors - whether that's employees or local attorneys, accountants, cleaning companies, and more.
    • Government is not the only voice in the conversation, but, again, a collaboration of our community leaders can spotlight a problem that many in the community people can solve.

When we increase our income, we have money for things that cost us money.