CRAWFORD COUNTY - Incumbent Gari Lorenz and challenger Jeff Robinson will be on the ballot on Tuesday, April 7, for Crawford County Board of Supervisor’s District 14. That district includes the towns of Eastman (Ward 2), Marietta, Town of Wauzeka (Ward 2), and the Village of Steuben.
Incumbent District 14 county board supervisor Gari Lorenz is retired from a masonary business he ran in southern Wisconsin. He currently lives in Wauzeka Township, owns income property, and does a little farming. He also volunteers with a local ATV/UTV club.
“The reason I am called to serve on the county board is to share my experience in business and help the county to make the best financial decisions,” Lorenz said. “I see areas where Crawford County properties could be better managed. For instance, I didn’t agree with the sale of Blackhawk Junction in Prairie du Chien, which removed that property from the tax rolls.”
Lorenz stated that he thinks it is better for the county to increase revenues through facilitating business development and construction, rather than through raising taxes.
Lorenz has served on the county board’s Public Health, Insurance and ADRC committees. He agrees with the county and state’s approach to emphasize social distancing as a way to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“We have to do all we can to prevent the spread of the virus,” Lorenz said. “For this reason, I believe that the current shut down is necessary.”
Lorenz stated that the hog facility proposed by AV Roth in Marietta Township is a major issue for citizens in the county’s 14thdistrict.
“We can’t stop businesses from developing, and paying taxes, and think we’re going to be able to operate the county with no money coming in,” Lorenz said. “I’m not concerned about water quality, because the DNR handles that – I believe that they’re watching water quality closely, and there is no need for the county to step in and cause more problems.”
Jeff Robinson, 58, is a grassfed beef producer who lives and farms with his wife, Susan, in Wauzeka Township. Robinson moved to Crawford County about 22 years ago from Oconomowoc, and runs grassfed beef on 600 acres. Before moving to the area, Robinson worked in his family’s meatpacking business, and was “involved in all aspects of the business,” from operations to sales.
“Because of my love for beef cattle, I knew that I wanted to be a beef producer, so I decided to relocate to Crawford County where the land is ideal for grazing and land values were less expensive,” Robinson said. “If I had chosen to be a grain farmer, I would have looked for land in a part of the state where the terrain is less challenging.”
The Robinsons raised their two children in Crawford County, Noah and Sarah, and both graduated from the Wauzeka-Steuben School District. In addition to farming, Robinson owns and operates a bulldozing and excavation business that takes him into many out-of-sight places throughout the county.
Robinson, like all farmers in recent years, has seen his operation impacted by the increasingly large rainfalls the area has experienced.
“In grassfed beef production, grass is my farming commodity,” Robinson explained. “And I came here to farm because grass is suited to the terrain we have here.”
He reports that last fall, he sometimes had to move his cattle twice a day to protect his pastures. The main issue that has prompted Robinson to run for the county board is runoff, erosion, and the impact on water quality.
“My ground holds so much water that it often like walking on a sponge,” Robinson reports. “But all that water that I’m holding on the landscape is not running off and getting into the creeks and damaging our infrastructure.”
If elected, Robinson hopes to serve on the Land Conservation Committee. His goal is to help farmers and landowners connect with services to help them deal with issues related to increased amounts of precipitation on the landscape.
“We need to find a way to incentivize conversion of our more vulnerable croplands to grazing to help prevent runoff and erosion,” Robinson said. “It’s hard when there are so many absentee landowners renting their ground – grain farmers will pay $125 per acre whereas CRP only pays $65 per acre.”
Being a farmer himself, Robinson emphasizes that he is not against farming, and not against grain farming. While, like most farmers, Robinson doesn’t think that the best approach is “to have someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about telling us what to do,” his experience in Waukesha County makes him believe that some standards are necessary to protect the land and water.
“Waukesha County is zoned, and the farmers and rural landowners there have had a lot of experience with urban sprawl and learning to get along,” Robinson said. “Another big issue out here is all the people putting in driveways that our first responders have difficulty accessing – that wouldn’t be allowed in Waukesha County.”
Robinson stated that he believes that the challenging terrain in the Driftless Region dictates that more stringent land use standards are necessary. But he says just implementing the standards isn’t enough – enforcement is also necessary.
“Crawford County’s water problems all start on the top, and so we have to fix our issues on the top before we can fix our issues on the bottom,” Robinson said. “In my work operating bulldozers and excavating, I get out into all kinds of places that no one ever sees. There are all these old, water retention ponds and dams that are silted in and blown out. Fixing these could really help with our water and flooding situation as well.”Robinson sees fixing these dams, and restoring terraces and strips, as a key initiative the county could undertake with state and federal partners, that could really help. He also agrees that the problems in the Kickapoo River Watershed would best be addressed through a watershed-wide effort. He says he would be supportive of the idea of the county becoming involved in a Watershed Authority, working with Monroe, Vernon and Richland counties.