Political experience: Trustee on West Salem Village Board for five years.
Why are you running for office?: A couple of years ago I had an opportunity to serve on the Village Board in West Salem. I still serve on the board and really enjoy working with the other board members to solve problems and keep daily life moving smoothly. Even though the state and federal governments have a lot of power and control, local governments have more opportunities to try new ideas. I feel that local government has a direct impact on people’s lives that they don't often think about. This is my way of trying to make the community I live in a better place for everyone.
The county maintains 282 miles of roads and 69 bridges and has a backlog of roads that require millions of dollars in repair. Should the county raise more money to expedite those repairs – and how?: This has been a challenge for a long time and I don't think there is a magic solution to fix it. In the past, the county has considered a wheel tax and also passed a Premier Resort Area Tax which the state has stopped them from implementing. So when it comes to new money I don't see the county having very many options left. In my opinion we need to actively seek grants for future road projects. I also think we need to work with state government to come up with an adequate method of taxing fuel in a manner that the people who are using the roads are paying for the maintenance and replacing of the roads.
Should La Crosse County help fund collaborative efforts with other municipalities in the county?: Yes. La Crosse County should collaborate with municipalities on projects. However, I think this needs to be done on a case-by-case basis and there should not be a blanket expectation that the county will contribute funding for every project. There needs to be a shared interest and all parties need to have a seat at the table to discuss terms and come to an agreement about each party's responsibility to the project.
Is the county doing enough to provide assistance to those struggling with drug abuse?: This is an area that there will always be room for us to do better. I think the county is doing a good job with the resources they have to work with, but the simple reality is that there are just not enough services available right now, public or private, to meet the current demand for drug treatment or for mental-health services. The county needs to continue to work with groups like Alliance to HEAL, which is an organization that has members from all over the community who are working on the opioid crisis. We should work to expand our drug/alcohol treatment programs and our mental-health services.
What success and challenges do you see in the county’s jail and court system?: I would consider one success in the jail system would be Project Proven, which from my understanding is a collaboration between the county jail and Western Technical College to help inmates of the county jail develop job skills to find work once they are released. I feel the Criminal Justice Management Council has been another success. They work hard to advise the county on matters regarding the justice system. I would consider two issues as challenges. There seems to be an increase in violent crime in recent history. Drug and alcohol addiction is also a perpetual challenge for our judicial system as well as our mental health services. We need to find better ways to deal with habitual offenders and drug dealers.
Political experience: Past Village of West Salem board member
Why are you running for office?: Serving as a La Crosse County Board member would allow me to give back to my community. For the past 42 years, my business located in the village of West Salem has given me the opportunity to be a sounding board for various ideas and opinions that would improve the day-to-day life in the La Crosse area. Now that I am semi-retired, I have the time to represent the community that I have resided in my entire life.
The county maintains 282 miles of roads and 69 bridges and has a backlog of roads that require millions of dollars in repair. Should the county raise more money to expedite those repairs – and how?: The state of Wisconsin should be assisting with the expedition of repairs.
Should La Crosse County help fund collaborative efforts with other municipalities in the county?: We should continue to help fund collaborative efforts with other municipalities.
Is the county doing enough to provide assistance to those struggling with drug abuse?: The county should support the programs that attempt to meet the needs of the addicted.
What success and challenges do you see in the county’s jail and court system?: The county's jail and court system is in dire need of staffing to deal with the caseload. I see a huge challenge in keeping serious offenders in jail. Criminals are often back out on the streets shortly after appearing in court.
Kevin Hennessey and David Hundt face off in District 25.
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