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April 6 election: Race for La Crosse mayor comes to an end, and other need-to-know info
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April 6 election: Race for La Crosse mayor comes to an end, and other need-to-know info

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Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots for a number of nonpartisan local and state races.

This is the fifth pandemic-era election local officials and voters will participate in, and new protocols have become commonplace since the pandemic first forced communities to adapt in the last April election.

“The same protocols that were in place with previous elections regarding safety precautions with COVID will still be in place,” said La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer. She said voters should not expect anything different from what they’ve experienced at past polling locations.

County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer

Dankmeyer

This includes encouraged mask-wearing, signs encouraging and marking social distancing space and traffic for voters, plexiglass for poll workers, sanitation stations, individual pens and more.

Local spring elections typically bring fewer people to the polls, and this year is expected to be no different, Dankmeyer said.

“I don’t expect the turnout to be anything spectacular. It will likely be our typical mediocre turnout that we get for spring elections,” she said.

“Obviously the areas that have a contested race like the city of La Crosse mayoral contest, along with a few school districts and town races, will get a slightly higher turnout, but I don’t expect us to break any voter turnout records tomorrow,” Dankmeyer said.

The city of La Crosse could see a similar turnout to the last contested mayoral race in 2013, and city clerk Nikki Elsen is predicting the same 26% turnout.

Compared to the February primary, though, officials expect a slightly higher turnout. In La Crosse, just over 4,770 absentee ballots were issued for the April 6 election, which is about 700 more than February — although there are still about 1,000 outstanding ballots.

“I expect there will be a higher turnout of people voting at the polls tomorrow with nicer weather and more people being vaccinated,” Elsen said. She said the city is staffing polls with slightly more inspectors this election, expecting busier polling places.

Nikki Elsen

La Crosse City Clerk Nikki Elsen

One of the most-watched races this spring is that for mayor of La Crosse, as voters prepare to bring in new leadership after two-term Mayor Tim Kabat announced he would not run again.

The often fiery race for mayor will come to an end when voters make final decisions on candidates Vicki Markussen and Mitch Reynolds.

Markussen, a former TV journalist, CEO of La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce, and leader with La Crosse Area Builders Association and 7 Rivers Alliance, would be the first woman to be La Crosse’s mayor if elected, and has received the most financial support among the two candidates.

During her campaign, Markussen has vowed not to take political endorsements for the nonpartisan seat, but she has received big support form the area business community. She remained adamant throughout her campaign on not tying herself to any one party, and characterized herself often as fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

Reynolds, also a former broadcast journalist who hosted a talk show on WIZM News for several years, and most recently worked in management with WholeTrees Structures, has emerged as the more progressive candidate, receiving endorsements from the La Crosse County Democratic Party, Our Wisconsin Revolution and more.

Vicki Markussen

Markussen

Candidates took to a lot of door-knocking during their campaigns, which is typical for local races, but amid the pandemic have taken a lot of digital approaches to reaching voters, including using social media and participating in nearly a dozen virtual debates.

Both candidates’ campaign strategies on social media has sometimes resembled their past work in journalism, too. Markussen would often go live from a location like city hall or a fundraiser to bring an update, similar to a TV newscast, and Reynolds would host live evening discussions where viewers, fielding questions and topics from viewers and dissecting them live on air, similar to a radio talk show.

The two candidates have particularly clashed on police reform, redevelopment and homelessness, among other key issues for the city.

La Crosse City Hall will see additional turnover come April 6 in addition to mayor, as the city’s South Side will vote for its newest La Crosse Common Council members, with only one incumbent seeking another term.

Mitch Reynolds

Mitch Reynolds, former WIZM radio talk show host, is one of the finalists running for mayor of La Crosse.

Other local races on Tuesday’s ballot include three open seats on the La Crosse Board of Education, several seats on the Campbell Town Board, various other area school board races, as well as the statewide race for the state superintendent.

Voters are encouraged to find more election information including their polling places, registration status and what’s on their specific ballot at MyVote.wi.gov.

Here are some of the local races and candidates featured on Tuesday’s ballot:

Mayor of La Crosse

Vicki Markussen

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Mitch Reynolds

La Crosse Common CouncilDistrict 7

  • Mac Kiel
  • Victoria McVey

District 8

  • Mackenzie Mindel
  • Samuel Deetz

District 9

  • Chris Woodard

Write-in: K.C. Cayo

District 10

  • Rebecca Schwarz
  • Richard Becker

District 11

  • Jennifer Trost
  • Richard Korish

District 12

  • Keonte Turner
  • Doug Happel (i)

District 13

  • Chauncy Turner
  • Mark Neumann



La Crosse Board of Education

Top three candidates will fill open seats.

  • Annie Baumann
  • Kraig Brownell
  • Rob Abraham
  • Brad Quarberg
  • Gretchen Guinn Paquette
  • Martha Linville



Town of Campbell Board

Chairperson

  • Dennis Nelson
  • Joshua Johnson

Supervisor 3

  • Abby Siakpere
  • Ralph Thoren

Supervisor 4

  • Dennis Nelson
  • Jason Stratman
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