EDITORIAL: Mayoral Race One for the Books
No clear front-runners in six-way race where anyone could deliver February surprise
By Brandi Makuski
Candidates in the race for Mayor of Stevens Point are about as varied as the winter weather of late: some candidates are foggy and confused, while others are cold and distant; some blow into a room and leave a major impression, while others are calm and quiet.
This mayoral race is more important than any in recent history. Six seats on the City Council are up for re-election, which means there’s a possibility of six new faces making decisions for the city- and most of those running for aldermanic positions have no previous experience. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
But it does mean whomever we elect as our next mayor should have a very clear understanding of the duties and authority of the office. The individual we elect needs to have strong background in communication and leadership, a proven track record of understanding how municipal government works and knowledge of city finances, development and planned future growth.
We’ve already seen some candidates employ these traits. Candidates Jerry Moore, Tony Patton and Mike Wiza already have experience in city government and all three have won re-election on multiple occasions. All three have established relationships with city workers, department heads and businesses in the area. Based on their voting records, all three have an understanding of what it means to run a city.
Candidates Bob Larson and Alex Kochanowski both have experience on the Stevens Point Area Public School Board, but in much different ways. Larson was a long-time member known for his fiscal conservancy before losing his seat on the Board, arguably, to the younger Kochanowski who won based on his working man appeal and fresh thinking. But Kochanowski has since become the center of controversy, having lost his job with the city over claims of campaigning for mayor while on duty- a violation of city policy- and some accusations of perceived unethical behavior on the School Board.
Candidate Barb Jacob is a local businesswoman with no formal experience in local government, though she is an appointed citizen member of the city’s Deer Management Committee. She purports that lack of experience itself as a strength, and with the large number of “Barb Jacob for Mayor” signs seen in the community, she may have a strong base that agrees with that idea. But Jacob is also running for 9th District Alderwoman, which makes one wonder if she’s a serious mayoral candidate, or just wants to serve the community in any fashion possible.
While Wiza is arguably the most visible and recognized of all the candidates, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the best choice for the job. He’s a nice guy- but so is everyone else in this race, and that alone is a poor reason to vote for anyone.
Over the next several days you’ll see some heavy reporting on our website, www.spcitytimes.com, on each of these candidates, as well as the three aldermanic races coming to the primary on Feb. 17. We’ll highlight their track records, bring you in-depth one-on-one interviews and look at their past accomplishments and future plans for the city.
Watch for our pre-primary election coverage in next week’s print issue.
While it’s not the job of a journalist to endorse a candidate, party or political dogma, City Times staff have noticed recurring themes during recent interviews and forums which show a clear pattern of thought and behavior.
We will report which candidates are unmoved by facts, unable to stay on topic, incapable of accepting responsibility and unwilling to live in the present.
But it is you who has to decide which candidates are truly representative of the community.
We do ask, however, that you discard any preconceived notions you may have about one candidate or another before you have all the information. This is important because we live in a democracy, where information forms opinion, and where public opinion can and does change the course of a government body.