1. Why do you want to be mayor?
I would like to tackle the challenges our city faces. The biggest challenge is very high property taxes which are on average 50% higher than surrounding communities. High taxes are hurting growth as people choose to not buy homes in the city and more and more properties become rentals. Rising crime related to a growing drug problem is another challenge.
I love living in La Crosse and would like to make sure it continues to be a great place to live.
2. What experience do you have that makes you qualified to be mayor?
The La Crosse Mayor has limited authority. This makes experience working collaboratively very important. I worked for sixteen years for a global organization managing a multimillion dollar business. This required working with people in several departments to achieve common goals. These departments included legal, finance, marketing and culinary. I was recognized as the top manager in North America for three consecutive years and won many awards. Building relationships with people is key.
Creating the city budget is also the job of the Mayor. In addition to managing budgets in my food career I have written budgets for our businesses. I wrote the three year monthly budget projections for the Salon Professional Academy for our SBA loan. I have continued to manage these budgets for the past six years.
I served two years as a La Crosse County Supervisor. I understand the role of city and county government.
3. What will be your top three priorities for the City of La Crosse if you’re elected mayor?
Grow the city tax base
Lower property taxes
Manage an effective response to drug related crime
4. What are your long-term goals for the City of La Crosse?
Economic development is most important. Attracting new businesses and helping existing businesses grow must be our top priority. This will increase our tax base and allow for a gradual reduction in property taxes. We need to develop our waterfront property.
5. The current mayor and the City Council have had disagreements about several city issues lately. If elected mayor, what will you do to work with the City Council?
I will layout a clear vision for our city. I will engage each department head and council person one on one to hear their priorities and develop our agenda. I will meet with the personnel of all departments and listen to their ideas for improving our city. I will have an open door policy that encourages everyone to meet me personally and share their ideas and concerns. Good communication on the front end can avoid conflict in many cases in the end. Vetoes should be rare.
6. How will you balance the city budget?
Current state law limits increases in property taxes to new construction only. This poses a big challenge to budgeting. It also makes development of sites like the old Mobile Oil and old Holiday Inn very important. Rising costs have resulted in new and increased fees to fill the gap between tax revenue and rising costs.
I will meet with each city department and seek cost saving ideas from everyone.
I will explore alternatives to property taxes as a way to fund our city government.
On average spending should not exceed growth in wages, that is on average about 2.5%. If we can show this fiscal discipline we can use new construction revenue to lower taxes.
7. Are you in favor of raising property taxes?
I favor lowering property taxes and seeking other forms of revenue.
8. How long have you lived in La Crosse?
I lived on the south side on Victory St. for four years and on the north side on Cherokee Ave. for the past nine years, so 13 years total.
9. What do you like most and least about living in La Crosse?
Most of all I like the people and natural beauty. Least of all the rising crime and high property taxes.
10. Tell us about your family.
I have been married to Sue Kolve-Feehan for almost nine years now. She is a successful business woman who manages day to day operations in our two family businesses the Salon Professional Academy and Sue Kolve’s Salon and Day Spa. We are active in many community organizations. Sue is a board member for Riverfront an organization that helps developmentally disabled adults. Sue’s daughter Amy Bublitz is 27 and works in admissions at the school she has two sons who are four and six. Sue also has a son Brandon Kolve 22 who is a graduate of Cordon Bleu Culinary school he lives and works in Vail, Colorado. My daughter Cady 20 is a sophomore at UWL.