For the first time in the history of La Crosse, the city council will have a female majority when it is sworn in April 20.
“First time in the history of our city. Yes. Yes. Isn’t it great?” Andrea Richmond said with a laugh. She’s been on the council for 23 years and will be serving with her sixth mayor.
Along with Richmond, Barb Janssen and Chris Kahlow are already serving, while Mac Kiel, Mackenzie Mindel, Rebecca Schwarz and Jennifer Trost were all elected Tuesday to give the council a 7-6 female majority.
“Over the years I’ve had plenty of people tell me that that’s a guy’s job,” Janssen said. “And that tends to make me want to do just the opposite, and prove that a woman can do it just as well, if not better.”
Janssen could also head another milestone for the council. Richmond told the La Crosse Talk PM audience Wednesday she plans to nominate Janssen for council president.
“She knows a lot about city government, and she’s got an HR background and a finance background — serving on the finance committee, as well,” Richmond said. “I think she’d be a good leader, serving as council president.”
La Crosse has had two female council presidents in the past — Audrey Kader, most recently, and Linda Heisler in the 1990s — but Janssen would be, of course, the first to preside over a female-led council.
“I think it’s exciting, because we do have more diversity on the council,” Janssen said. “It could still be more diverse.”
The first woman to serve on the council was Sharon Imes in the early 1970s. She was followed by Helen Kelly, according to WIZM’s Brad Williams.
Newly elected Kiel was also excited coming to the realization women would have the majority, but made it seem like this was, perhaps, a focal point for this election.
“That’s why a lot of us women ran,” Kiel said. “We do feel it’s really important to have women in these types of positions, helping make decisions from that point of view. It’s one of the many views that have been shadowed for so long.
“I’m really excited even as a younger mom to be able to contribute and do that with a bunch of other awesome, strong women. I’m really excited for it.”
When the female majority was brought to the attention of current Mayor Tim Kabat, he too, was of course thrilled.
“It’s a phenomenal statement about our local government,” Kabat said. “I am excited to see this and look forward to this next mayor and council helping to move the city forward.”