Three candidates remain in race for Onalaska mayor

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) – The race for mayor in Onalaska is down to three candidates. Tuesday morning former Onalaska police officer Bob Muth said he’s dropping out of the race for personal reasons.

The sun has set on Onalaska Mayor Joe Chilsen’s time in leadership.

“I think we were surprised when he resigned when he did,” said former Onalaska Common Council President Jim Binash.

Chilsen’s health wouldn’t allow him to serve the way he wanted and it opened the door for new leadership within the city. Four community members were vying for the chair of Onalaska Mayor.

However, the number turned into three after an announcement by former Onalaska police officer Bob Muth.

“After a considerable amount of thought in talking with my family and friends, I have decided to withdraw from the Onalaska mayoral election,” Muth announced Tuesday morning.

Muth says his decision to drop out wasn’t health-related but he didn’t point to a specific reason. That leaves Terry Bauer, interim mayor Kim Smith and Binash who have experience in city leadership roles.

“I thought I had the skill set that I could bring to the table to help what already is a great city,” Bauer said.

Bauer said his business and community leadership experience will help when working with other communities.

“We have some pending issues that La Crosse is involved along with Onalaska,” Bauer said. “I want to make sure our community is getting a fair shake in those negotiations. I can work with Tim Kabat very well.”

Smith said her 20 years of leadership with the city will help her become a successful Mayor.

The technical knowledge combined with relationships I have built have màde my transition from City council to being the Mayor smooth,” Smith said. “Going forward, I will continue to listen to the voice of our residents, business owners and other Civic leaders to keep Onalaska such a great place to call home.

Binash has experience on past common councils for the city of Onalaska. He has also served as council president.

“I am familiar with the area,” Binash said. “I am familiar with the people and the process at city hall. I have the experience. I believe I have the leadership qualities you would expect a mayor to have in that position.”

Their opinions may differ, but they all want to continue to show what Onalaska has to offer.

The role of Onalaska mayor has changed over the years. Binash says the role has turned into a city advocate responsibility and it’s a part-time position. The addition of a city administrator has helped balance the work that needs to be done in the city.

After Muth dropped out he threw his support behind Binash. The primary election is set for Feb. 18.