One of Douglas County’s longest serving supervisors is stepping down in April.
Supervisor Doug Finn, who served as the Board’s chairman for 20 years, announced Thursday, Dec. 19 that he won’t be seeking another term on the Douglas County Board.
“It was 50 years ago this month that I took out papers to run for City Council,” Finn said. “Well, time flies by, and I’ve served on the County Board for close to 40 years, and I don’t have the energy I think it requires to do a real good job on this. Hopefully, I accomplished something, and above all, hopefully I treated people with respect.”
The Board gave Finn a standing ovation after his announcement.
“We still got a few more months to go,” Finn said.
Finn stepped down from his chairmanship in 2016 to sit among fellow members in the gallery and to focus on issues important to his constituents.
Finn advocated not only for his constituents, but also for northern Wisconsin as a whole. He served as a long-time co-chairman of the annual Superior Days lobbying effort in Madison and made the annual trek to lobby state agencies and legislators for most of the last 34 years.
When he had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. in 2010 with a former colleague on the County Board, Theresa Hooper, Finn turned the personal trip into an opportunity to meet with Wisconsin’s elected officials in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. At the time, Finn was concerned about the status of the 154 Environmental Fund with the planned retirement of its creator, former Democratic Congressman Dave Obey.
The fund had supported sewer infrastructure projects for communities in the Lake Superior watershed of northern Wisconsin.
Chairman Mark Liebaert said back in 2000, he testified before eight different county boards and numerous town and school boards about a contentious issue.
“Out of those eight, there really was only one county board that was fair and treated people with respect on both sides of the issue,” Liebaert said. “That was the Douglas County Board, and I think that was due entirely to Doug Finn’s leadership.”
American Transmission Company, owned by Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service Corp. and Duluth-based Minnesota Power, was planning to build a high-voltage power line from Hermantown to Wausau, Wisconsin.
The Douglas County Board resisted negotiations with the company from 1999, when the 345-kilovolt line was introduced, until 2005. At that time, a bill was working its way through the Legislature that would have allowed public lands to be condemned to build transmission lines. After the bill was signed into law, the board finally approved an agreement with American Transmission Company for easements necessary to build the transmission line.
Liebaert said he’s based his service as chairman of the Board on Finn's example.
“I’ve always tried to honor what he’s taught us here,” Liebaert said.
Finn will step down in April, following the spring election April 7.
County Clerk Susan Sandvick said Finn’s decision leaves the 3rd District without a candidate in the upcoming election.
Candidates can still get on the ballot for the spring election. The deadline to file nomination papers is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7.
For information on running for Douglas County Board, call the County Clerk’s Office at 715-395-1568 or stop by Room 101 of the Douglas County Courthouse, 1313 Belknap St.