What will be your top priority if elected as Mayor of La Crosse?
The top priority should be looking at how we can help our families and businesses recover from the pandemic and the recession. The ways that we can help, one of them is to provide logistical support for the distribution of vaccines. The county, the state, and our medical centers are clearly taking the lead on vaccine distribution and we are going to see more of that. The city does not typically have a role in that, but what we can do is provide logistical support so that we can provide pathways for easy access to the vaccine. Even if it is closing down streets to have a drive-thru vaccine distribution or allocating police and fire personnel to assist in vaccination. There is also a communication role the city can help provide. The city can take a role in helping to provide better and more complete information about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Also, identifying pathways for businesses access potential funding sources needed to stay open or re-open. We need to find ways to help our local businesses thrive and survive.
What do you think is the city's most urgent economic issue and how do you propose to address it?
We have a significant challenge in the quality and value of housing in the city of La Crosse. More than a decade ago, a report was done on La Crosse housing and one of the key concerns was the property values of residential properties. Because of low values in property, city services cost more to homeowners who can least afford them. It also creates a situation where our tax rate has to stay remarkably high. Those low property values have had a ripple effect through the community, because homeowners have little incentive to repair their properties because they expect very little return on investment. That then leads to greater decay in our neighborhoods and that impacts properties when they do go up for sale. We have a continued, downward cycle of the decay of properties. Now, we can address this in any number of ways; through the housing replacement program in the city of La Crosse and through grants or loans to help improve these properties. Increasing the housing stock in the city of La Crosse is something Mayor Tim Kabat worked on, and I would continue to work on.
What is your assessment of community/race relations and policing in La Crosse? Do you think improvements are necessary and if so, what would they entail?
This is where my white privilege becomes a bit of a barrier for me, my experiences are not the same as the experiences of people of color in our community. I have had a child that has been a victim of brutal crimes a couple of times, and the police have been only helpful and supportive. My experience with my children in school with the SROs has been for the most part, positive. But when my son was in trouble for fighting in middle school, he went to the principal's office. When his African American friend was in trouble for fighting in middle school, he was suspended. We as a community have to understand and acknowledge that as white people our experiences are not the same as our neighbors who are people of color. that does not mean that their experiences are not valid. The very first thing that we need to do is acknowledge our prejudice. Even if we don't believe there is a difference in the way that police treat white people and people of color, we have to at least understand that others have that perspective. I vow to be someone that listens to those perspectives. You have to have empathy for the people you lead. you have to listen to them and see what their needs are, what their beliefs are and see from their perspective.
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Former radio host and WholeTrees operations manager Mitch Reynolds said his 15 years moderating hard conversations qualifies him for the mayoral role.
"The unity walk that I was at the other night," Reynolds gave as an example while talking about bringing people together. "The focus of that was really unifying people and really bringing people together and I feel I have very unique skills to be able to do that. I have highly refined listening skills and I've been told I'm very empathetic and I guess I am."
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