Rich Smith

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:38:30 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 08 2013 09:43:29 AM CST

1. Why do you want to be mayor?

I have the ability to lead and work with the council and department heads to get things done. I am a problem solver and a consensus builder. These abilities will serve me well as the mayor.

2. What experience do you have that makes you qualified to be mayor?

With 8 years as a union president, the things I have learned and done will be valuable to me as mayor. I also have a unique perspective as to the way things get done within the city due to my 35+ years as a city employee.

3. What will be your top three priorities for the City of La Crosse if you’re elected mayor?

1) Crime/Alcohol - I am proposing a "Notification" program which would be a concerted effort joining the Police Department, DA/City Attorney offices, Judges, Probation Agents and other representatives from within the community. This program would provide a set of criteria for criminals and compliance is the first goal. If they step beyond the criteria,   major sanctions begin.  No more revolving door. I also reccommend bringing back the Alcohol, Compliance and Education (A.C.E.) team. They promoted a lot of training and created many bridges, like co-training with the La Crosse Tavern League. This was a good program with incredible results.

2) Taxes & fees - We need to re-vitalize the older housing in our neighborhoods by encouraging homeowners upgrade and remodel rundown housing. TIF's are a tool used by the city to provide incentives for business to develop in La Crosse. I think that TIF's could be temporarily suspended and that money used as incentives for home owners and we can start to get our neighborhoods back.

3) Coordination & Cooperation - La Crosse needs city departments to work more together to achieve the common goal of better efficiency and organization. There also needs to be better communication between the mayor and the council.

4. What are your long-term goals for the City of La Crosse?

To get crime under control and drugs out of our neighborhoods. Rejuvenate our older neighborhoods and keep taxes and fees from continued escalation. Make better use of our natural resources to increase tourism and revenue coming into our city and a better relationship between the mayor and the council and have both listen more to our citizens.

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?

Keep lines of communication open, show them that you are there to lead and strive to woork with each other to be more productive.

6. How will you balance the city budget?

A temporary break on TIF's and a crackdown on crime and drugs which eat up a very large amount of money in responses by police and fire personnel along with the court expenses and incarceration. this more than anything will cut down on costs incurred by the city.

7. Are you in favor of raising property taxes?

No, I think we can be more creative with more PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) programs and save money by better coordination with individual departments working together. No matter what, people have to realize that there is no quick easy fix. It will take hard work and patience.

8. How long have you lived in La Crosse?

I have lived in La Crosse for over 56 years. I am a born and raised northsider. 

9. What do you like most and least about living in La Crosse?

I like living here because of all the options for outdoor recreation. I'm an avid outdoorsman and spend vitually all of my spare time hunting and fishing. I like the values of the people that live in this area and their midwest work ethic. I don't like the way our once close knit neighborhoods have deteriorated the increase of crime and drugs. These things will continue to destroy our city until they are addressed.

10. Tell us about your family.

My wife (Sharon) and I are born and raised in La Crosse as were our parents. Sharon has worked at Centurylink for 12 years. We both enjoy being out on the river in our pontoon in the summer. Our son, Austin works for Inland Printing and also enjoys hunting and fishing.