RACINE, Wis. — Mayor Cory Mason and eight Racine Common Council members were sworn into office Tuesday night in front of family, friends and political supporters.
The night highlighted Mason’s political win over his opponent, Alderman Henry Perez, who still retains his seat representing District 12.
Despite the celebratory tone, Mason’s critics wondered why he spent over $500,000 on his race, why he appointed former aldermen to several key committee assignments, and how he has not quelled the gun violence happening in Racine.
“I am excited to work with this new council to build a better Racine for all of our residents,” Mayor Mason said.
Sworn in by newly-elected Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, Janet Protasiewicz, Mason thanked the outgoing council members for their service and expressed his optimism for the future of the city.
“We have a lot of work to do, but I am confident that we can make Racine a city where everyone has the opportunity to succeed,” he said.
While Mason largely has a majority in the Common Council that will likely support him, he still has vocal critics.
“I don’t trust him at all,” Perez said. “I have to work with him and I pray for him because that’s my duty as a Christian. But I am not satisfied with the job he’s done.”
What will the Common Council tackle?
The new council members will face a number of challenges, including a budget shortfall, a rising crime rate, and a need to improve the city’s infrastructure. However, they also have a number of opportunities, including a strong economy, a diverse population, and a commitment to public service.
With 13 of the 15 Common Council members voting, the Board approved Alderman Terry McCarthy’s nomination as Common Council President.
“It’s important that you actively listen to your colleagues as they make their cases, and especially those colleagues you disagree with,” McCarthy said. “Only by listening do we understand the different perspectives to be able to find solutions.”
Committee appointments raise questions
Mason also announced his committee appointments, which have a number of former aldermen.
Former alderwoman Natalia Taft and former alderman John Tate II will continue to serve on the Water and Wastewater Commission. Trevor Jung, a former alderman, is now a city employee. He too will serve on several committees, including the Planning, Heritage and Design Committee.
“Well, I think he should have appointed some aldermen to them,” said Sandy Weidner, a former alderman. “Too many city employees, too.”
Defending his decision, Mason pointed out that Taft has a degree in Biology, and Jung has a degree in Urban Planning. Jung is also the city’s mobility and transit director.
“Where it makes sense to do that, we do on occasion put city staff on committees, (the) joint review board is one,” Mason said.
Mason put Perez on the Public Works Committee as the last member, even though he’s one of the most senior members of the Common Council.
McCarthy named Common Council President
One thing Perez did feel good about was having McCarthy as Common Council President.
“So Terry has promised me that if something is still in the queue, and about to die, he’ll call a special meeting,” Perez said, adding that he would like to see the queue rescinded altogether.
The new council members will have their work cut out for them, but they have the opportunity to make a real difference in the city. With the mayor’s support and the cooperation of the community, they can make Racine a better place for all.
The new council members are:
- Jeff Coe, District 1
- Olivia Davis, District 3
- Melissa Kaprelian, District 5
- Maurice Horton, District 7
- Terry McCarthy, District 9
- Mary Land, District 11
- Renee Kelly, District 13
- Cory Sebastian, District 15
The new council members were sworn in for four-year terms. Their first full Common Council meeting will be held on May 2.