In two weeks, La Crosse voters will elect the city's next mayor, marking the end of Matt Harter's one and only term.
News 8's Lou Hillman sat down with Mayor Harter to take a look back at his four years in office.
Hillman: One of the other big criticisms of your tenure as mayor, and I'm not sure if you've heard this, some people feel that you've spent too much time on Third Street (downtown La Crosse). Do you feel that, as mayor and face of the city, you maybe should have been more prudent about how you presented yourself in public?
Harter: Well...when you say presented myself in public...the mayor's the mayor whether the mayor is sitting in his office, whether the mayor is out for dinner in the evening. I feel that I always looked out for the best interest of the city, respected myself and conducted myself as mayor.
Hillman: Did you ever find yourself aware of people watching and criticizing and scrutinizing every decision whether it was here in the council chambers or at a tavern on a Friday night?
Harter: Sure.There will always be, I suppose, people thinking a decision is a bad one or a decision is a good one. Everyone is going to have their own opinion and their idea of how things ought to be.
"I've heard those allegations too. I've never particularly experienced or seen them so I'll have to leave it to the public to judge on that one," said City Council President Audrey Kader. She's been an outspoken critic of the mayor on several key issues.
One area, however, where she is giving him the benefit of the doubt is his high-profile ethics violation. In 2011, the city's ethics board found that he used his position as mayor to try and help his family's garbage business.
"I really think that he innocently got caught in that and it was unfortunate. It was just something where he thought he was doing the right thing," said Kader.
Hillman: Looking back, do you feel that your actions were inappropriate?
Harter: You know, we all make mistakes. The most important thing is that we learn from those mistakes, we admit from those mistakes and we move on and grow from them. I can't say I'm 100% perfect. I don't think anyone can. In this situation, I feel that I've grown from it.
Hillman: From your perspective, what is the single biggest challenge facing La Crosse as you leave office. Just one.
Harter: I'd probably say the mature housing stock. Neighborhood revitalization is probably right now our biggest focus, biggest attention and biggest obstacle to overcome.
Hillman: Do you have a favorite moment or memory from your time as mayor?
Harter: Favorite moment or memory? I'd have to say the very first night after being sworn in and conducting the first council meeting. That is probably the most memorable moment and definitely very eye-opening as to the overall responsibilities and authority of the position.