One of the first things on the agenda for the new mayor of La Crosse might not be quite what anyone expects.
“It’s going to require some evaluation, but there are things that we talk about constantly throughout this campaign — quality and affordable housing,” Mitch Reynolds said Tuesday, after being elected mayor.
OK, that part was pretty expected. It was the rest of his answer that was a tad out of the ordinary, unless you know Reynolds.
“Just the showers for the female firefighters,” Reynolds added. “I want to get someone to build those, as quickly as possible.”
It’s been an issue in La Crosse for quite some time. An issue that Reynolds has brought up multiple times in the past. Also, for those who know Reynolds, if he can’t find that someone to build them, he might just end up doing that himself.
The newly elected mayor, who will be on La Crosse Talk PM at 5:07 p.m. Wednesday, edged out Vicki Markussen with 50.96 percent of the vote (4,655 votes to 4,450). He’ll officially succeed Mayor Tim Kabat on April 20.
Aside from helping female firefighters, Reynolds said examining the pandemic fallout and recovery will be tops on the list.
“Understanding exactly how we can utilize federal stimulus money to help right the ship, if you will, within the city of La Crosse after the pandemic-caused recession, as well as fill in the budget gaps caused by that recession,” Reynolds said. “That’s going to be one of the first things that we address.”
But, he admitted, expect a few hiccups to start things off.
“I don’t want anybody to think that there’s going to be something that doesn’t have mistakes somewhere along the way,” Reynolds said. “When we have half of the city council brand new, and a brand new mayor, there’s going to be stumbles here and there for the next few months.
“But we’re going to rely very heavily on our extremely talented and professional staff, our department heads, to make sure we have a seamless transition. That’s what I expect.”
Reynolds also wasn’t thrilled with just 9,134 votes in the race — 29 for the write-in candidate(s). When Kabat beat Doug Farmer in 2013 — the last race to fill an open seat for mayor — there were 9,477 votes cast. Kabat won with 65.43 percent of the vote.
“That was kind of disappointing,” Reynolds said of Tuesday’s turnout, “but I would like to get to the point where we’re really convincing the people in our community that their voice matters in selecting a leader — or any representative of government. And really work on trying to get voter turnout much higher. If there are hurdles towards that, then we need to improve voter access. I would like to be able to do that.”