Who wants to be mayor?
OK, it seems like just about everyone. (RacinePost would like to formally announce it is not running for the office.)
But it also seems like no one wants the job, at least on a temporary basis. Along with setting June 2 as the special election date, the council will consider appointing an interim mayor to fill the office until the election. The alternative is to appoint no one and let Alderman David Maack continue in his role as City Council president/interim mayor. Both ideas have problems. Consider:
INTERIM MAYOR: The interim mayor would be, well, mayor, with all of the powers that entails (though not free tech support on your home computer). This would give them five months to put their stamp on city policy before handing over the reins to the newly elected mayor. It also gives them a powerful endorsement (read: bargaining chip) in the special election.
NO INTERIM MAYOR: As one city official said, that could be like telling residents we don't really need a mayor. If Racine can run fine for five months with a chief executive, why bother with the $70,000+ salary that comes with the job? It also calls into the question the council itself. If our elected city officials can't make this decision, what decision can they make? Alderman Ray DeHahn also pointed out the federal government is nearing approval of one of the largest handouts in US history. Is this really a time to be without a mayor?
The obvious answer here is to promote a sitting alderman or alderwoman to the mayor's office until the special election. But that would require the council member to, at least temporarily, give up their City Council seat and be vulnerable to a special election of their own.
(Here's where things get a little confusing. Read on at your own risk.) If an alderman in an odd-number district is appointed interim mayor, and then reappointed to the council, they would have to run in a special election next year, and then for re-election in 2011. That would be three elections in three years - not a fun task for any elected official.
That leaves City Council in even-numbered district as viable interim mayor candidates. These include: Bob Anderson (2nd), Jim Kaplan (4th), Sandy Weidner (6th), QA Shakoor II (8th), Tom Friedel (10th), Aron Wisneski (12th) and Ron Hart (14th).
Kaplan and Shakoor are interested in running for mayor, so they may be out. Anderson and Wisneski are relatively new to the council, and probably don't have the experience (yet). That leaves council veterans Weidner, Friedel and Hart, who all could be a good fit - and may realistically be the front-runners for the interim slot.
That is, if the council can make a decision Thursday how it wants to proceed.