By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Roger Larson will be on the ballot in the April 7 election for Town of Colfax chair along with Dean Logslett, incumbent Supervisor 1 on the Colfax Town Board.
Town of Colfax residents Lisa Bragg-Hurlburt and Ronald Hoffman will be on the April ballot for the Supervisor 1 position.
Gary Bjork, incumbent Supervisor 2, also will be on the ballot in April but does not have any challengers for the position.
Larson, 40, and his wife, Athena, have four children: Stephanie Velasquez, Remington Larson, Hunter Larson and Citori Larson.
Larson is the co-owner of Bear Valley Electric along with his brother, John.
The Colfax Messenger recently sent out questionnaires to candidates running in the April election.
Here are Larson’s answers to the questions:
• Where have you lived, other than the Town of Colfax?
I grew up, and have spent most of my life in the Colfax Township.
In the fall of 1997, I moved to Valdez, Alaska, to work as an electrician. June of 1998 traveled to Barrow, Alaska, and continued to work as an electrician in a couple of the villages on the North Slope.
February of 1999 I moved to Phoenix, Arizona, for tech school where I met my wife, Athena.
I moved back to Colfax in late 2000, and returned to work for Bear Valley Electric, and to start a family. We have been here ever since.
• What is your educational background?
I graduated from Colfax High in 1992. I have attended UWRF in River Falls and DeVry Technical Institute while I was in Phoenix. I am a licensed Master Electrician in the State of Wisconsin.
• Why did you decide to run for chair of the Colfax Town Board?
I am running for the Colfax Town Board because I am concerned about our property taxes, the use of our tax money, our road conditions and the rights of landowners and land use in our area.
• What about your background makes you particularly suited to serve on the town board?
I have lived in a couple different states over the years. I have driven to and through over 30 of the 50 states and almost half of Canada, but I always look forward to coming back to Wisconsin.
Growing up in Wisconsin, hunting and fishing, I have realized that I love what our particular area has to offer for beauty and way of life.
Although I didn’t grow up on an actual dairy farm, I pretty much always had chores to do. When I was a child, we heated with wood, and about the time I was ten or 11, we started raising various livestock from beef cattle and springing heifers, to butcher pigs. This was how my brother and I made money and was our responsibility up until the time I graduated from High School. Because of these responsibilities, I learned the value of hard work, and how hard it is to earn good money and that it should be spent wisely.
As a business owner and partner, I have had to negotiate with suppliers, other contractors, and make tough decisions which affect my employees and customers daily. With this experience, I have learned to think logically, consider different opinions, and when it is time to seek out experienced advice on topics which I may not be as familiar with. I am very open to advice, concerns, and opinions.
• What do you believe to be the biggest challenges or issues facing the Town of Colfax, and what ideas do you have for increasing revenue or decreasing spending?
I think currently our biggest challenges in the Township are taxes, road conditions, and land owner rights including land use.
Taxes are always difficult. As a land owner, it always stings a little to get the property tax statement near the end of the year. Without looking at the Town’s books and seeing where the tax money ultimately ends up, it is hard for me to say how much anyone can do to actually affect our property taxes. As I understand, the taxes are also dependent on Dunn County, the Colfax School, UW-Stout and CVTC. There may not be much room to lower them, but I would like to try.
In my opinion, the roads are breaking down faster than they are being repaired. Although we have done some road improvements over the last ten years, I would like to lay out a timeline or a schedule of sorts as to which roads need rebuilding by need and cost.
The challenge that is currently in front of us, and is arguably the biggest, is land use and zoning. I am curious about what the Town of Colfax Plan Commission is coming up with for long term planning, zoning and most recently the mining ordinance. I admit that I (like probably many people in our Township) have been very busy in my own life to keep track of what is being put together. But because ordinances, zoning, and long term planning ultimately affects everyone in the Township, I think there should be some public debates regarding any of these items before a few people make decisions for everyone. I don’t believe that a committee of a few should have complete control over an individual’s property rights.
I have seen the “No Mine” signs around; I have heard some rumors as well as some misconceptions regarding sand mines. Most recently I listened to some statistics given at the last Colfax Town board meeting from someone not on the board, which at face value sound pretty staggering. But I would like to know their source or at least the context of the numbers. I challenge anyone to actually visit a mine. There are a number of them around the area, visit one. Visit more than one. Take some time to talk to the property owners and/or mine managers directly and get the facts before taking only the word of someone who is against mines at face value. I believe that Wisconsin, in particular Dunn County, Chippewa County and the surrounding counties, have a great opportunity as a whole to improve our tax base, and our unemployment rate, among other benefits, by implementing a reasonable mining ordinance. An ordinance which doesn’t discourage mining, but instead holds the mines accountable for safe mining practices, environmentally conscious mining practices, as well as safe sand transportation. (This could also be a source for road improvements and upgrades.)
I am sure that there are some other aspects of land use planning which I am not aware of. But I intend to stand for individual land owners, and their rights to utilize their land as they see fit. They have invested time and money to own a piece of land whether it is 1 acre or 600 acres, and I believe they should be able to benefit from opportunities available to them.
• Why are you the best candidate for the Colfax Town Board?
The answer really depends on the voters. If the people in the Town of Colfax want someone who believes that taxes (although necessary) should be kept to a minimum, someone who believes money is hard earned and should be spent wisely, and someone who stands behind land owner’s rights, then I am the candidate for them.