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Mayor John Dickert plans to resign at the end of the summer to become the president and chief administrative officer of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.

Dickert announced his decision at a press conference held Monday morning at Racine City Hall.

The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative focuses on protecting the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Basin, which is the largest source of surface freshwater in the world. As mayor, Dickert has been actively involved in the group for several years.

“After some thorough reflection and discussion with my family, I have decided it is time to step back from the city to stand up for water on a bigger stage,” Dickert said. “I am announcing this now, at the earliest possible time, to allow for an orderly transition for the city. I will be here working on our development projects, the budget for next year, and on the day-to- day activities that fill my calendar until my last day. We are not slowing down.”

Dickert will replace David Ullrich, who has served in the position for 13 years and is retiring. Dickert took the position because he believes that water is the next major political and economic battleground for the country. With President Donald Trump axing federal funding for cleaning up the Great Lakes, Dickert plans to be part of a national effort to help restore that funding.

“Flint Michigan is but a warning for the rest of us in future water problems,” he said. “And these problems will be confronted with this generation as well as the next. But it’s our duty to solve them rather than pass them on to our kids.”

Approached about the position two months ago, Dickert plans to continue to focus on several major projects the city has, including the arena/events center, Machinery Row, and Rootworks. Once Dickert starts his new position in the summer, the Common Council will need to name an interim mayor until a special election can be held this fall.

“I’m comfortable with this transition because I know that I have a very strong, professional and dedicated staff,” he said.

He also pointed to how the public and private sector are working together to build a better Racine and that work will continue.

“We have had significant efforts in economic development, attracting new businesses, lowering unemployment, lowering crime and creating building blocks for the future of the city,” he said. “And there’s a lot more ahead.”

Immediately following the announcement, Wisconsin State Rep. Cory Mason and Common Council member Dennis Wiser both said they plan to throw their hat in the ring to fill the rest of Dickert’s remaining term, which expires in April 2019.

Mason sees himself as “picking up the torch where this administration has left off,” he said.

“I love this city, I’ve lived here all of my life. I have been be able to serve this community in the Legislature for 11 years now and I would be thrilled and honored to serve this community further as its Mayor,” Mason said.

Wiser believes Dickert made a wise choice to take the job and he will be leaving the city in the best shape it has been in for a long time, he said.

“I think I could bring some continuity to the process,” Wiser said about running for mayor.


Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.