The “What If ” list grows larger day by day. With only a couple of weeks left before a new mayor will replace Mayor Tom Friedel, who was appointed to fill former Mayor Gary Becker’s unfinished term.
Friedel was voted in by the Racine City Council to hold the post exactly 91 days, until his successor is elected on May 5 General election.
The council's action came after Mayor Gary Becker was arrested on child sexual enticement charges and resigned the position he'd held for five years.
Now with Representative Robert Turner and John Dickert running neck and neck, the political conversation has turned to who would seek to replace Turner in Madison if he would become the next mayor of Racine.
Many feel that former Alderman Lorna George, who is Legislative Assistance at Turner’s Madison office, would no doubtingly be the odds-on-favorite to get his nod. After all, George has been a big supporter of Turner and would probably receive his endorsement as well as labor.
Another name that has started to pop-up is Racine’s County Board Supervisor Diane M. Lange. She is an outspoken voice in county government, who has served six terms as a Supervisor and is also a former alderman. Her frequent conflicts with County Executive Bill McReynolds have placed her in the forefront of fighting for progressive causes.
“If the people want me, I would be proud to serve,” says Alderman Michael Shields, whose political career has spanned over 20 years. He is president of the Racine County Dems Party and holds several other key positions in Racine’s political circles.
Keith Fair, who has strong connections in Madison, said that it is a little premature to lend himself to this type of discussion and he personally did not want to be a participant on the blog with speculative scenarios. "Let the process run its course," he explained. However Fair is no political stranger, having been a city alderman and a staffer recently for the Obama Campaign. He would be formidable candidate.
Others that were suggested have been Pete Karas, who is a member of the Green Party and a recent mayoral candidate in the primary. He was one of the first to endorse Turner after the April 7 run-off election.
The big question being asked is whether or not Kim Plache, a well-known community leader in Racine, will jump from the school board and run for the staff position. After all, she too is no stranger to Madison, being a former state senator turned community activist. Since leaving the state legislature in 2002, Kim has maintained a high profile by serving on community boards and working to help support local candidates. Kim is currently a Steering Committee Member for the Women's Progressive Network of Racine, where she was part of a group that helped recruit 11 candidates to run for office in 2008.
Craig Oliver, who is being credited for orchestrating Turner’s primary win said that who ever seeks the job, will need to be connected to the city in a real way, and not in an imaginary manner. “Living in the city and knowing its inner workings will be paramount,” he said.
If elected, Turner has said that he would stay until the budget is finished and then would resign from his Assembly seat. He is committed to being Mayor and understands the time it will take if elected. “I am committed to the job of mayor. If the people of Racine choose me to serve as their mayor, I will resign my position in the state assembly as soon as the state budget is passed,” he said.
The Wisconsin Accountability Board says that under state statute Gov. Jim Doyle would call for a special election. Interested candidates could then fill out their paperwork to run for the open seat.