Fire Fighter Lives Far Far Away
Union leader Seager lives In McMansion Jr.-style home worth $475,000 in Town of Jackson.
Unions representing police and firefighters occupy a privileged position among government employees in Wisconsin, thanks in part to the dogged efforts of officials like David R. Seager, Jr., who has been the head of the 1,000-member, Milwaukee’s Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 215 since January 2010.
The union endorsed Scott Walker, and Seager starred in an advertisement for the Republican candidate. Upon Walker’s election as governor, the union was exempted from the collective bargaining restrictions faced by all non-public safety government workers. When an unsuccessful recall attempt was made against two-time Walker challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, earlier this year, the union lent its support.
A Journal Sentinel article by Dan Bice from May 2011 had this to say, adding that “nobody seems to know more about … the Milwaukee residency legislation than Seager does.”:
Mayor Tom Barrett’s chief of staff, Patrick Curley, said [a union memo] showed Seager cutting “backdoor deals” with the Walker administration and Republican legislative leaders in exchange for his union’s political support last fall.
“He’s bragging that he’s going to cash in on these political favors at the expense of Milwaukee residents and taxpayers,” said Curley, whose boss is vigorously fighting the residency bill.
When the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in June 2016 that Milwaukee could no longer enforce the requirement that public employees live in the city, it was a victory for Seager, who had long lobbied for just such a change, and who then set forth to find a new house for himself.
I’m Goin’ to Jackson
Well now, we got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout,
We’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson, ever since the fire went out.
I’m goin’ to Jackson, and that’s a fact.
Yeah, we’re goin’ to Jackson, ain’t never comin’ back.
—Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash
Eight months after the residency change, Seager found his dream home in the 34-square mile Washington County Town of Jackson, which surrounds the three square mile Village of Jackson on three sides. In 1970, around the time he was born, the town population was only 561. Today it is estimated to be nearly ten times that number. As part of the most Republican county in the most Republican congressional district in the nation, the Town of Jackson is an outlier, casting 2,125 votes for Trump and 573 for Clinton in the 2016 election. The 75 percent of the votes that went to Trump dwarf the mere 60 percent of votes he got countywide.
Development in Jackson is newer, and allied very much with the interests of Scott Walker. Automobiles are mandatory, public transit is non-existent, walkable neighborhoods and mixed use real estate is forbidden by law. Public services here tend to be of the “do it yourself” nature. You can haul your garbage and recyclables to the town dump yourself upon payment of an annual fee. Now that’s convenience.
Likewise, the taxpayers are not burdened with a full time professional fire fighting department, relying instead on a pay-per-call system of civic-minded volunteers ready to abandon their plows on moment’s notice when the alarm sounds. Their fire fighting apparatus can then weave through the convoluted culs de sacs of this burgeoning community. Fortunately, the Seager residence has municipal water and sewer service thanks to the adjacent village government.
A Half Million Dollar McMansion Jr.
So what kind of a house do you get for a half a million bucks in the Town of Jackson? The Seager residence is located on a half-acre lot that is valued at $105,000, or $4.82 per square foot. That’s somewhat between the average value of a lot in Brewers Hill and Riverwest, but not bad for a converted cornfield. The 4,177 square foot home, built in 2003, is assessed at $398,300, for a total assessed valuation of $503,300. Seager and his wife Heather bought the place for $475,000 on February 27th, 2017.
It is in the Twin Creeks subdivision, created by the Dittmar Realty Co. and located in the Germantown school district. Listen to the words of the real estate poet:
Twin Creeks is nestled quietly amidst nature, creatively planned around 38 acres of open space in Jackson, Wisconsin. Walking trails meander throughout your neighborhood of oversized residential home lots creating an atmosphere of true country living. The conveniences of modern life are just minutes away in the surrounding communities of Germantown, Cedarburg and Mequon.
Germantown! Cedarburg! Mequon! The “conveniences of modern life” at Twin Creeks are all located elsewhere, none of which is Milwaukee. And meandering walking trails are not quite the same as sidewalks that actually lead to a destination. The only “true country living” in this manufactured suburb lies in the farmland you have to pass to get anywhere else.
The neighborhood association is quite particular about such things as minimum roof pitch (8/12, very impressive and imposing), facade materials (natural only), square footage (minimum 2,400 for a two story Phase 5 home) and such other minutiae as a “Pre-designed mailbox and front yard light post required for each home.” When people start expressing their individuality through non-pre-designed mailboxes and front yard posts, nonconformity is sure to follow, with chaos soon nipping on its heels. Before you know it, they’re voting Democrat.
Ninety-one half-acre lots remain available at prices ranging from $69,000 to $89,000. Surely there must be other Milwaukee firefighters eager to make this big move.
Let’s Take a Look Around
Thanks to a real estate listing that remains on the internet a few details about the home are apparent. The public rooms have tall ceilings, which tend to be coved or otherwise heavily detailed. A crystal chandelier hangs above the master bed, and a glass double door there leads out to a deck in the back. The kitchen has columns, and opens to the living room with a wood-burning fireplace, a perfect place to boil up a pot of firehouse chili. There is granite in that kitchen, you can be sure, and plenty of angles in the ceiling, reflecting the 8/12 pitch of the roof above. A butler’s pantry leads to the dining room. Now that’s classy! The laundry room has more coat hooks than an elementary school corridor, and a handy bench below can hold dozens of pairs of boots and an Olympic team’s worth of Nordic skis. There are four bedrooms and three full baths.
Downstairs, the basement is an open one, thanks to the hilly terrain that leads downhill toward Cedar Creek, which is just getting its footing hereabouts. The basement seems well outfitted with a wet bar, a soundproof glassed-in booth, a movie room, a fireplace and an indoor pool.
The home is freshly landscaped, with a red Knockout rose providing an accent for a decorative fire hydrant located next to the garage door.
About David Seager, Jr.
As my colleague Bruce Murphy wrote in a September story for Urban Milwaukee, Seager is the “city’s most curious lobbyist.” He first lobbied for, and then successfully against the development of a high rise apartment building overlooking Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, some 30 miles from his home in Jackson. That’s quite a distance away, even with the lights flashing and the siren blaring.
As the story noted, Seager earned $5,000 for lobbying for the project, and has since earned an undisclosed amount for lobbying on the other side. He did his lobbying the second time using the Fire Fighters Association name, and it is not clear whether his fees for that will be shared with the association, or how the board feels about this. Seager became president of Local 215 in January 2010.
His union job, according to Article 45 of the labor agreement, is a full-time position. But the city pays his salary, and since he was promoted to Captain by the Fire and Police Commission on December 15th, 2015, he earns a bi-weekly salary of $3726.16, or $96,880 annually. Additionally, union officers are compensated by the organization, but that amount could not be determined.
- Owner: David Richard Seager, Jr., Heather L. Seager
- Location: Town of Jackson
- Neighborhood: None
- Subdivision: Twin Creeks
- Year Built: 2003
- Architect: None Found
- Style: McMansion Jr.
- Size: 4,177 square feet finished living area
- Fireplaces: 3
- Bedrooms: 4
- Bathrooms: 3 Full
- Rec room: Oh my, yes! With a wet bar, fireplace, studio space and a swimming pool
- Assessment: The 21,780 square foot lot is valued at $105,000 [$4.82/s.f.] and the improvement is valued at $398,300 for a total assessed valuation of $503,300. Owner purchased property on February 27th, 2017 for $475,000
- Taxes: Tax balance $7,018.58 Paid in Full.
- Garbage Collection Route: Town of Jackson residents can transport garbage and recyclables to the Town Transfer Station with an annual paid permit.
- Polling Location: The Jackson Town Hall is a former country club located at 3146 Division Road
- Aldermanic District: N/A Town Board
- County Supervisory District: Washington County 14th, Ray Heidtke
- Walk Score: 0 out of 100. Car-dependent. Almost all errands require a car. Milwaukee city average 62 out of 100.
- Transit Score: 0 out of 100. No public transit options. Milwaukee city average 49 out of 100.
- Nearest Fire Station: The Village of Jackson Volunteer Fire Department has a station about a mile and a half away.
How Milwaukee is it? Not at all. The residence lies about 34 miles northwest of Milwaukee City Hall.