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Markussen, Reynolds on winning the La Crosse mayor primary

Rick Solem

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It’ll be either Vicki Markussen or Mitch Reynolds as La Crosse’s next mayor come April 6.

Those were the two winners out of 10 candidates in Tuesday’s primary.

Now the real work begins.

For Reynolds, it’s about what the community wants in a mayor.

“It’s really about ideas and, again, finding a way to move the city forward,” Reynolds said late Tuesday, “and to make sure that this campaign is empowering as many voices as possible to have a say in what happens next in our city.”

For Markussen, the next step is hearing from those who didn’t vote for her or Reynolds.

“So we have people whose candidates didn’t move forward,” Markussen said, “and, to me, those are people that showed up on a quasi-cold day because they believed in a candidate. They wanted their voice heard, and making sure that that gets captured moving forward is really important.”

There were 6,610 votes cast in the primary for mayor — 273 less than 2013, when 11 candidates ran for the open mayor seat that current mayor Tim Kabat won.

Unofficially, Markussen had 1,560 votes. Reynolds 1,345. The only other candidate over 1,000 was Martin Gaul (1,151).

With 10 candidates, there were obvious favorites early. That became clearer as the primary went on.

Markussen was one of those early favorites, based on her history running the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce.

Reynolds, being the former host of WIZM’s La Crosse Talk PM, had some name recognition to start. But, with everything he was doing to reach the public, he, too, started to really stand out — including with Markussen.

“I was not surprised that it was Mitch,” Markussen said. “I think he and I both tried to reach out to people in new ways. I know some of the other candidates weren’t using social media very prominently, so it does not surprise me.

“I think people appreciated the extra effort that Mitch and I made to reach out to them.”

For Reynolds, he knew his team had put in the work to get to this point but it was still a bit of an unknown.

“All I could possibly do was just sit and wait and wonder,” he said, “and believe that somehow we had done enough to make sure that enough people in the city La Crosse — that I was resonating somehow with what they wanted for the city to move forward.

“I had to believe that. Again I really had zero expectations. I really had no idea what to expect.”

Heading into Tuesday’s primary, Reynolds did know one thing — he wasn’t going to try and predict the outcome.

“For as long as I was a radio journalist, I picked elections wrong almost every single time,” Reynolds said. “I was really bad at it. So awful at it that it became almost a calling card for me.

“So I knew that, whatever I thought about how I was going to wind up in this election, was going to be wrong.”

Markussen had a feeling she was going to pull through.

“I was confident but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have some anxiety,” Markussen said. “I felt like when I entered the race, just all of the support of people saying, ‘Yes to going to make a great candidate,’ (and), ‘I voted for you,’ so I got a lot of feedback throughout the day that reinforced but when your mind sits still you start to go, ‘What would I have done different?’”

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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