La Crosse mayoral race cracked wide open
The La Crosse mayoral race appears to be anybody’s game.
Two more people filed papers with the city clerk Wednesday to run for mayor.
That brings the expanding field of candidates up to 10.
In less than four months, current Mayor Matt Harter's term will be up.
The perceived frontrunner, former La Crosse Mayor John Medinger, announced this week he’s dropping out of the race.
"Well, I just didn't have the fire in my belly to do this job properly. You know, being mayor of La Crosse is a big job. I've been there before, and I know exactly what I was getting into. And it became very apparent in the days after I announced that it wasn't something that was right for me. And if it wasn't right for me, it wasn't going to right for the city of La Crosse," said Medinger.
With no big frontrunner and no incumbent, political analyst Joe Heim said it's the perfect storm to crack this race wide open.
"If you want to put money on any candidate, I think it would be a long shot. There are no obvious favorites in this race, and it's going to be a real horse race," said Heim.
He said while there's no clear frontrunner now, if he were to name one, it would be Chris Olson. The owner of the Sports Nut is a current City Council member, which gives him a little more public exposure and a current understanding of city government.
Olson said he wants to bring change to the culture of City Hall.
"I think there's been a division in the city, and the department heads have been kind of working on their own. And I'd like to see them all work together as a team," said Olson.
Candidates have two weeks left to file their papers with the city clerk, and Heim said that's plenty of time for some surprising candidates to come out of the woodwork.
"Matt Harter, four years ago, was not considered a frontrunner. He was a long shot at best. Young kid, no experience, and he won. And I think that should tell people that anybody can win if they work hard enough to do it," said Heim.
Candidates have until Jan. 2 to file all their papers with the City Clerk's Office. That includes collecting 200 to 400 signatures.
Not counting Medinger, nine candidates have filed papers with the City Clerk's Office as of Wednesday afternoon:
Downtown Mainsreet Inc. Executive Director Tim Kabat plans to officially announce his candidacy Thursday morning.
The only candidate who has filed all of the papers due by Jan. 2 is former Washburn Neighborhood Association President Randy Magno.
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