Jensen, Durrant seek seat
By Robert Cloud
Mark Jensen and Phillip Durrant are running for the Supervisor 2 seat on the Farmington Town Board.
Local elections are slated for Tuesday, April 4.
Mark Jensen grew up on the family farm where he lives and works today.
A 1980 graduate of Waupaca High School, Jensen attended two years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned an associate’s degree in dairy farming management.
He currently raises corn and soybeans.
Although he has no prior experience on the Farmington Town Board, Jensen’s father, W. Fred Jensen, served many years on the Farmington Town Board.
“So, I guess it’s in my blood,” Jensen said.
Jensen said he decided to run for the town board after area residents approached him and suggested he would make a good board member.
“Being a farmer, I have to prepare my own budget, try to adhere to it and make it correlate to what’s going on in the market,” Jensen said. “Working with people I do business with will be simliar to working with contractors for the town.”
Jensen said he has a 22-year-old daughter, is divorced and is currently in a committed relationship.
He is active in the Viking Snowmobile Club.
Jensen said his primary focus would be on maintaining the town’s roads.
He noted the town board has done a good job in the past, and he wants to keep that going.
“I want to see if there’s any improvements that can be done with snowplowing, mowing the ditches and cost savings, but not at the expense of having good roads,” Jensen said.
One way to maintain roads, Jensen said, is to enforce spring weight limits.
“The county roads are posted, the town roads are posted, but there’s no enforcement,” Jensen said. “If you drive heavy equipment on the roads this time of year, you can do a lot of damage.”
Jensen also noted a rash of road signs disappearing.
“It would be nice to get to the bottom of that or devise some means to make it harder to steal them,” Jensen said.
He also wants to lower taxes, if possible.
“I believe that just because the town has money, it doesn’t mean they have to spend it,” Jensen said.
Jensen said Farmington purchased lawn mowers for cemetery maintenance last year. He wonders if the town could save money by hiring a service.
Jensen also believes Farmington should return to having a separate town clerk and treasurer.
“It’s a good source of checks and balances,” Jensen said.
He would also like to see what town employees and elected officials are being paid each month as part of the monthly billing report.
Communications with town residents is key to being an effective town supervisor, according to Jensen.
“I’m always listening and I’ll always ask questions,” Jensen said. “If someone asks me a question and I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out.”
A Farmington resident since 1973 and a graduate of Waupaca High School, Durrant is a Vietnam-era veteran who spent 13 months on a tour of duty in South Korea.
His duties included being an aide to a battalion commander and supply procurement.
Durrant studied at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for two years.
He spent 27 years working at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King. He was in charge of purchasing, receiving and distributing supplies for the maintenance department.
Durrant retired from the vets home in 2001, spent four years working for UW-Stevens Poing in the recycling department and is now employed part time at Fastenal.
Locally, Durrant is best known for his role as a WIAA sports official at football, basketball, softball and volleyball games. He has been a sports official since 1980.
Durrant said he was initially approached by then-chairman Don Fabricius to apply for an open seat on the town board.
“I explored it. I did apply, but I realized I did not have the time to devote to that position so I withdrew my application,” Durrant said.
Durrant said Dale Trinrud and Eugene Engebretson approached him again in June 2016.
“I was lukewarm at best,” Durrant said. “In November, I had another conversation with Mr. Trinrud and he again encouraged me to apply.”
At the Dec. 19 Farmington Town Board meeting, Caroline Murphy replaced Kevin Will as the town chair after he resigned the position.
Durrant then took over Murphy’s seat as Supervisor 2 at the same meeting.
He favors focusing tax dollars on residents rather than visitors.
“I’m not saying that this isn’t the standard now, I just want to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future,” Durrant said. “If we take care of the needs of our residents, our visitors will benefit also because we will have good infrastructure, good roads and parks.”
Durrant wants to include Farmington’s electors in the town’s decision making.
“I’d like to see more transparency and the concept of a town hall meeting used more often to get more public input,” Durrant said.
Durrant said he favors more public input during town board meetings and more flexibility about public input on the agenda.
“I don’t feel public input should be restricted to the first 15 minutes of the meeting,” Durrant said.
One issue where Durrant would appreciate more public input is the town’s share of funding to the city of Waupaca’s Parks and Recreation programs.
The towns of Farmington, Dayton and Waupaca contribute toward the annual costs of the programs.
In exchange, residents of those towns may pay the same fees to participate in the rec programs as city residents.
For 2017, Farmington agreed to contribute $61,578 toward the city’s rec programs.
The city and Waupaca School District have been discussing a new Fund 80, which would be managed by the school district to help fund the city’s parks and rec programs.
Durrant said he believes Fund 80 could save the town’s money, but he wants to ensure the idea has the support of Farmington taxpayers.
Durrant said he also wants to make sure the town is still receiving the level of ambulance service it did when Waupaca Area Ambulance ran the service.
“That includes staffing, response times and overall service,” Durrant said.
While he believes Farmington has good roads, Durrant would like more public input as to determining which roads should be given priority.
“Everybody wants their own road done immediately, but we can’t do that,” Durrant said. “We need to live within our budget, and we need to do our due diligence.”