Know Your Commissioner: Kris Hampton
In our second Commissioner Profile, we get to know Kris Hampton, CARPC’s longest-serving Commissioner. Read on to learn more about Commissioner Hampton’s passion for preservation and long-standing commitment to public service.
Kris Hampton has been part of the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) since day one. He was appointed by the Dane County Towns Association (DCTA) when CARPC was first created in 2007 after answering their call for volunteer commissioners. Thirteen years later, Kris serves as CARPC’s Secretary and is known for the passion for preservation that he brings to the Commission. His stewardship ethic and long-range mindset, along with his decades of involvement in township administration, add important perspective to Commission proceedings.
Kris Hampton originally hails from the Village of Bloomington in Grant County, where he transported milk for local dairy producers. In 1970, he moved to Dane County and, at the height of the Vietnam War, enlisted in the US Army Reserve. As the war ended without his being deployed, he stayed in Dane County to study data processing at MATC and eventually began a 30-plus year career as a Senior Purchasing Manager for Auto Glass Specialists. In addition to his day job, Kris served his community first as a member of the Town of Cottage Grove’s plan commission, then as a member of the Town Board beginning in 1992. Now retired, Kris divides his time between CARPC and the Town of Cottage Grove, where he has served as Town Board Chair since 2007.
As a public official, Commissioner Hampton strongly values increasing urban density as a means of preserving farmland and supporting transit. There is a limited supply of farmland, he points out, and much of it has already been converted from “growing crops to growing homes.” To accommodate population growth, he advocates for cities and villages expanding upward rather than outward, keeping new development compact in order to preserve enough ag land outside of urban areas to feed the growing population.
In all his years of community involvement, Kris’s favorite public service memory is working on the Town and Village of Cottage Grove joint emergency services building. The way two communities came together for the benefit of the entire area stands out to him as an example of what can be achieved through positive collaboration.
After over 30 years of involvement in local politics, Commissioner Hampton has seen some changes in the RPC’s approach and areas of focus. For example, while CARPC’s predecessor, the Dane County RPC, often delved into zoning issues, Kris says CARPC successfully maintains its focus on regional water quality. While certain things have changed, Kris points out that some long-standing challenges persist – namely, that CARPC’s vision for Dane County and the wider region isn’t always shared by each municipality. He maintains hope that CARPC can work toward multi-county regional collaboration over the long term by consistently demonstrating value and steadily building relationships.
Commissioner Trivia: In a tribute to his grandchildren, Commissioner Hampton transformed his property into a miniature forest by planting 800 trees from seed.
Commissioner Hampton’s environmental values and long-term perspective extend into his hobbies and interests outside of his official duties. Kris spends much of his time outside maintaining the grove of 350 black walnut trees that he has grown for his grandchildren. On his property in the Town of Cottage Grove, Kris can be found mowing, clearing fallen sticks, and gathering nuts, which he gives away to a friend up north.
Kris also enjoys traveling to National Parks with his immediate family, visiting five parks last year alone. He views our national park system as a treasure to take care of, preserving the beautiful work of Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps workers and maintaining the wild atmosphere as a resource for future generations.
Kris Hampton is a straightforward guy; as he puts it, “what you see is what you get.” Though he does not boast any hidden talents, he did share a unique story of unexpected friendship. While working in the auto glass industry, a random work call he received from a man in Norway ended up launching an international business venture and eventually blossomed into a lifelong friendship. Since that fateful call, Kris and his Norwegian friend have remained in regular contact, including visiting each other’s home countries numerous times. To this day, they talk about once a month.
Kris, who does not have any Norwegian ancestry himself, has developed an appreciation for the country’s approach to growth management and commitment to protecting centuries-old farmland. The people of Norway support urban density, he says, while still valuing their cabins in the mountains. This view is right in line with Kris’s appreciation of domestic natural and agricultural resources and his belief that compact urban development is the way to protect them.
And then there is the question of cats, CARPC’s unofficial animal mascot. Kris’s family has included three or four cats and one dog at various times, but he is currently content to have zero pets. Though he personally feels neutral about cats, he charitably states that they are great on a farm for providing low-cost pest control.