And then there were two: La Crosse mayoral candidates discuss key issues to make city better

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – What was a field of 10 total candidates for La Crosse’s next mayor is now down to the final two: Vicki Markussen and Mitch Reynolds.

“It is the most humbling thing to see those results come in knowing that people voted for you and believe in you,” Markussen said. “I’m very grateful today.”

“I couldn’t have done any of this without the volunteer efforts of those who were out in the streets, especially out when we had highs of below 0,” Reynolds said.

Now the focus shifts to the general election in April.

“Smooth transitions are always important for our system of government,” Reynolds said.

“We’re able to move into conversations around what does the city need for the next four years?,” Markussen said.

Markussen says the city not only has a health crisis, but an economic crisis.

“I just spoke to some small businesses this morning that said it will be five years until they get back to where they were (pre-COVID),” Markussen said.

The pandemic caused a $4.5 million deficit to the city’s budget in 2020, forcing the city into a hiring freeze, along with furloughs and lay offs for some people.

The key to revamping the city’s economy, Markkusen says, is lowering the unemployment rate.

“Is there any help from the state? Is there any help coming from the federal (government)? And where there’s a gap, we have to fill it,” Markussen said.

Reynolds wants to bring a voice to the most vulnerable and marginalized people, including minorities, the homeless, and LGBTQ communities.

“It’s my goal to make sure that all of those voices feel like they have a say in what we’re doing here and how we’re providing services,” Reynolds said.

He thinks the city needs to provide fair housing and education to everybody.

“That’s the way that I feel we can make this community better,” Reynolds said. “That’s how we improve. That’s how we progress.”

Markussen was the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s primary with 1,560 votes. Reynolds earned 1,345 votes.

Markussen has a background in media and business. She is the former CEO of the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce, and created an organization called Engage Greater La Crosse.

Reynolds also has a background in media. He is a former news director at Mid-West Family Broadcasting in La Crosse, and is a former radio show host for WIZM.