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Good Government Council: Eau Claire City Council Questionnaire District 2

When: Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024; polls open 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Find your voting location at myvote.wi. All absentee ballots must be requested by March 28th, 2024 and turned in no later than 8:00 p.m. on April 4th either by mail or dropped off in-person. In-Person absentee voting will start Tuesday, March 19th and end Friday, March 29th. This will take place at City Hall. You can vote Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you plan to vote by mail, voters are strongly encourage to mail their ballots as soon as possible to ensure their ballot is received by the deadline.

What it’s about:  There are 7 candidates running for the 5 district seats this April. The Eau Claire City Council includes 11 members who each serve a three-year term. The candidates include:

District 2: Emily Anderson (Incumbent), Brian Trowbridge

Who can vote: The election is open to all eligible voters in the Eau Claire Area School District.

Where you vote and who is on your ballot:

Go to
Enter your voting address to learn which races are on your ballot and where you vote.

Why this questionnaire: The Good Government Council (GGC) is a committee of the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce dedicated to encouraging voter participation and providing members of the business community with non-biased information about candidates’ positions on important issues. Although the Chamber is active in policy issues, it is non-partisan and does not endorse political candidates.

Candidate Responses:

1. What are your background and qualifications for this position, and if elected, what will be your top three priorities in your term as a City Council Member?

Emily Anderson

Currently, I’m the vice president of the City Council, and I’ve represented District 2 for two terms. Voters know they can trust me to make decisions based on facts, communicate responsibly, and work collaboratively with the Chamber and other civic-minded groups.

My top three priorities will be:
–Helping the community respond to the HSHS closures
–Sustainability–both fiscal and environmental
–Promoting a high quality of life for all residents

My personal background: I grew up in Eau Claire, attended Manz, South and Memorial and then left for college, work and grad school, returning in 2015. I’m an author with professional experience teaching English at the high school and college levels, and currently work in nonprofit communications. I’m always looking to find the core values that connect us, because when this community aligns on a shared vision, we accomplish amazing things.

Brian Trowbridge

I have worked for state and local government in corrections and law-enforcement for over 20 years. I also have a bachelors degree in political science with a minor in public administration. Between personal and professional experience, and my studies, I have learned a lot about the way government budgeting processes work and how to weigh issues to benefit both sides.

The first of my top three priorities are to bring balance back to City Council that best represents the needs of the majority of Eau Claire citizens. Second is to work with local partners responsible for economic development in hopes of furthering plans for economic growth, and helping to alleviate some of the strains of housing costs and living expenses for Eau Claire residents. Third, I will work to promote the development of, and to sustain mental health and addiction programs in an effort to help our citizens and reduce related crime.

2. What should the City’s role be in responding to the healthcare crisis created by the HSHS and Prevea closings?

Emily Anderson

The city can be an excellent partner in working with stakeholders, including the Chamber and the Task Force, to restore our healthcare capacity. We didn’t choose for this to happen to us, but we can choose how we respond–and through our response, we can become healthcare leaders and innovators.
The city can do a number things in addition to collaborating on emerging opportunities:
--Support our city-county public health department as they share information and work to prevent disease and promote community wellness
--Lobby at the state level for the changes our community needs, and help inform the public about how to get involved
--Support our police and fire departments in their robust response to the challenges these closures present to their operations and to the public welfare
--Continue to invest in being a dynamic, welcoming community appealing to a healthcare workforce

Brian Trowbridge

City government’s role in a situation like this should be to ensure that safeguards and services are already in place, so if something like this were to happen, the impact would be less substantial. Unfortunately, business decisions, like this have to be made and create many hardships for the communities left behind. The City should be doing everything possible to identify and attract a suitable replacement that will be able to serve our citizens into the future.

It feels good to hear resolutions voicing City support for both the employees facing the loss of a job, and for the citizens needing healthcare services, but Eau Claire residents need results in terms of a viable replacement.

3. What specific actions, including, but not limited to, changes in the zoning code, should be taken by the City take to address the housing supply challenges facing Eau Claire?  

Emily Anderson

Like all growing cities, we have a housing shortage, which is driving homelessness and making it harder to attract and retain workers. We need more housing, especially affordable housing. At the city, we’ve succeeded in bringing stakeholders with different perspectives together–everyone from home builders to affordable housing advocates to sustainability experts–and found ways to support creative solutions. The results are plain to see. More housing is coming online every month. Updating the Zoning Code, which could lower building costs and promote more diverse housing types in neighborhoods, is a good starting point for a robust public conversations. I think the city should also work proactively with local developers to secure affordable housing funding recently made available by the State.
Finally, transportation is housing’s unacknowledged sidekick. Workers need places to live and a way to get to work; I’d love to collaborate with the Chamber on this critical workforce issue.

Brian Trowbridge

Hopefully Eau Claire’s Century Code Update, which is currently underway, will help to identify areas for improvement when it comes to zoning, and the development of affordable housing. Though, zoning is only one tool that can be used to address the affordable housing issues Eau Claire is facing. Affordable housing is a very complex issue that reaches far beyond the simple availability of homes or other residential space. If elected, I would look into other programs that have proven successful for communities of a similar size and larger, including programs that could offer tax incentives to owners of rental units that meet set requirements related to offering and maintaining quality affordable housing units.

4. What should be the City’s approach to addressing downtown issues such as parking and the unhoused population?

Emily Anderson

Our downtown draws in people from all over the region, so space-sharing challenges are to be expected.

What makes a “great parking spot” is often a matter of perception. How can we work with the community to make parking—and maybe having to walk a bit—feel less stressful? Experience design needs to be part of the conversation.

Homelessness will continue to be a challenge until we have abundant housing and significant state support to help people recover from mental health or other challenges. In the meantime, we’ve funded a day shelter so folks have a “place to go." The police connect with folks who are homeless daily and partner with county social workers to do referrals. We’ve provided bus passes so people can get to a job while they rebuild their lives. The city is also working on a “street ambassadors” program to promote public wellbeing. We need to keep working on this because everyone deserves to enjoy our public spaces in safety.

Brian Trowbridge

The City of Eau Claire currently maintains over 1500 parking spaces divided between the city owned parking lots and parking ramps in or near the downtown area. On street parking in the downtown area should be left for customers and visitors, so downtown business owners and employees could be incentivized to park in these lots or ramps by means of reduced rate or free parking passes.

The City of Eau Claire and its residents should be proud of their welcoming and charitable nature. However, because our community offers the resources we do to the unhoused population, additional people in similar situations often come to Eau Claire, sometimes from great distances, to take advantage of those same services further exacerbating the issue. Programs that offer mental health, addiction, and occupational resources should be prioritized in order to help these residents progress.

5. How and on which issues and services should the City work more collaboratively with Eau Claire County?

Emily Anderson

There are significant federal IRA funds available for climate change mitigation. I think there may be ways to work with the county and school district on a shared-infrastructure project that could reduce our air pollution, cut our energy costs, and boost our local economy. I’d also like to collaborate with the county about long term water protection planning–which should become regional planning–so that we can properly study our aquifer and develop intergovernmental agreements about how to care for our precious water resources. I’m also all for another regional opportunity– getting rail service connecting us to the Twin Cities!

Brian Trowbridge

The City and County should collaborate more on the resources and services available to assist the unbounded population in Eau Claire. The Health Department is obviously already involved, but building more in conjunction with Human Services and the Veterans Office could be very beneficial.

6. What is the City Council’s role in promoting economic development, business maintenance and commercial growth in the county?

Emily Anderson

Most people don’t see a beautiful park and think “look at that great an economic development tool.” But our parks, trails, the library, the Pablo, the Sonnentag Center, downtown: all of these public projects and partnerships make us attractive to workers and businesses. There’s a reason Eau Claire is the state’s fastest-growing metro outside of Madison. Our commitment to quality of life is key to our growth–and it’s also key to becoming the kind of community where everyone has what they need to thrive and contribute to our economy.

Additionally, the city’s fiscal sustainability depends on growth. With a budget pared down to the bare minimum (for example, city staff still were using MS Office 2011 until last year, because we couldn’t afford an update) it’s clear that the path forward requires that we increase our revenues. The way that we do that is by promoting economic growth, investing in our community to make it a place where people want to be.

Brian Trowbridge

City Council is absolutely essential in the promotion of economic development and growth in the City of Eau Claire, and Eau Claire County. Because a majority of the population in Eau Claire lies within city limits, city council decisions on economic policy have a great impact on development countywide.


Posted by Mallory Williams Governmental Affairs Intern

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