June 30, 2022

La Crosse political candidates receive party endorsements ahead of April’s nonpartisan election

La Crosse County Democratic Party publicly endorses Mitch Reynolds for mayor; County Republican Party supporting Vicki Markussen

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The race for mayor, city council and school board in La Crosse is technically nonpartisan.

“Our founding fathers in Wisconsin wanted people to choose municipal candidates based on person, not party,” said Joe Heim, a retired political science professor.

But Heim says that’s changing through national and statewide influence.

“I don’t think it’s a healthy trend at all,” Heim said.

The La Crosse County Democratic Party publicly endorses Mitch Reynolds for mayor.

“We felt there was a candidate with whom we really agreed with his vision for our community,” said La Crosse County Democratic Party Chairman William Garcia.

Garcia says the party doesn’t endorse the candidates running for the school board, but does oppose comments by candidate Rob Abraham, La Crosse’s deputy police chief.

‘It became clear through emails published by La Crosse Tribune, that he had made comments in the time of COVID about teachers not working, should be furloughed or paid less’ , said Garcia.

La Crosse County Republican Party Chairman Bill Feehan told News 8 the party has not endorsed any candidates.

However, the party encouraged people to vote for Abraham and mayoral candidate Vicki Markussen.

Markussen said in a Facebook Live on March 15 that she was asked about taking mentions, which she says she wasn’t.

“It’s funny how announcing you’re not looking for endorsements confuses everyone, because that’s not the norm,” Markussen said.

Garcia says he’s happy if the endorsements lead to more debate.

“I don’t think it helps to divide if you have an opinion,” Garcia said.

But Heim says the endorsements are politicizing elections near his home.

“As partisanship takes over, we are less united behind our political leaders,” Heim said.

Whichever candidates win, Heim wants the community to value them as people, not the party they represent.

The La Crosse chapter of Our Wisconsin Revolution, a social justice organization, publicly endorsed Reynolds for mayor and several other city council candidates.

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