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After Trump rally called off in La Crosse, Mayor Kabat still not ready to announce seeking reelection

Rick Solem

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FILE - The crowd cheers as Air Force One arrives with President Donald Trump at Duluth International Airport on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, for Trump's campaign appearance in Duluth, Minn. The next day, a similar rally in La Crosse was cancelled. Hours later, Trump announced he had COVID-19. (AP Photo/Jack Rendulich)

The way things fell into place, it would have been bad optics.

Had President Donald Trump not announced he had COVID-19 last Thursday night, what happened prior to that may have been as good a time as any for Tim Kabat to announce he’s running for a third term as La Crosse’s mayor.

After all, Kabat had — more or less — told Trump to stay out of his city.

Now, the details from that drama filled Thursday won’t say that. 

What happened that day was Colgan Air Service cancelled the MAGA Campaign rally, which was to be held at the La Crosse Regional Airport. Colgan did that because wording in the lease with the city said political rallies could not be held there, according to Kabat and airport director Ian Turner.

“Their letter (to the city) indicated that they didn’t agree that there is a breach, but they decided not to host the event,” Kabat reiterated Monday on La Crosse Talk PM.

Colgan has about 20 years left on its lease with the city. The 25-year contract was signed Jan. 1, 2016. It may have cancelled the event, fearing the lease would be torn up.

“The lease language talks about remedies and actions that either party can take, if they feel like there’s a breach,” Kabat said.

After rehashing that Thursday, Kabat did answer whether he plans to run for mayor in April 2021. Now, however, is apparently not the best time to announce he’ll be running.

“I have not made that official determination yet, as far as the campaign for mayor for April, and whether or not I’m going to seek a third term,” Kabat said. “We’re getting close to making a decision on that here in the next coming weeks.”

Only one person has announced so far they are running for mayor — city council member Jessica Olson.

She questioned Kabat’s leadership in city hall on La Crosse Talk PM a few weeks back on WIZM.

“It’s definitely systemic problems and how business is conducted at city hall,” Olson said. “It’s very difficult for me to get into details because, as I said, I don’t want to put employees on the spot that have relayed things to me, that have really bothered me. Other council members have heard it, as well.”

Olson had said morale at city hall was low, and not just because of the pandemic. Kabat pushed back on those ideas Monday.

“As a council member, she has the abilities to bring forward any issues that she feels are important,” Kabat said. “So, the fact that she hasn’t done that, I question whether or not that’s an issue or not.”

Kabat acknowledged that everything surrounding COVID-19 has added to the stress of the more than 600 city workers, who he praised.

“I cannot say enough how wonderful our staff is,” Kabat said. “They’ve just done a phenomenal job this year in really all aspects.”

“If there’s anything specific, as far as issues or challenges that a council member wants to bring up, I take those seriously and try to address them,” Kabat added. “But, up to this point, I have not heard from any council member about things that they would like to get addressed.”

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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    William A Davis

    October 9, 2020 at 2:31 am

    Just moved to the area, WHY, would people vote for a Wormy, Little Back Door Pr!ck like Kabat??
    What are these people afraid of energizing the city on the issues within our government? If the DNC issues were so great they should be helped by such interest, right.

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