Dick Johns won’t yet say publicly if he’ll seek another term
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Though the election for Rhinelander mayor is still months away with candidates planning to run next spring unable to begin circulating nomination papers until December, two have already entered the race.
Alderman Alex Young, who has been on the City Council for 13 years, and Chris Frederickson, a respiratory therapist and youth sports coach in the Rhinelander area who hasn’t previously held elective office, have both registered this summer with the City Clerk’s office to run for mayor in 2018.
So far they are the only two registered candidates seeking the office currently held by longtime Mayor Dick Johns, who declined comment at this time when asked whether he will seek another four-year term.
Whether or not Johns runs again, Young and Frederickson both told the Star Journal they plan to be in the race for mayor next year. Both already have campaign signs up in the city with Frederickson having filed a declaration of candidacy June 23 and Young having registered his campaign Aug. 3. Young also noted he won’t be seeking re-election to the City Council in District 6 next spring in his bid for mayor.
“I don’t think it’s a big secret that I’ve been thinking about (running for mayor) for a very long time,” said Young, who noted it is “a little bit early in the race” when he decided to formally register his campaign and put up his own signs upon seeing Frederickson’s signs for mayor.
Young said there has been a “lack of leadership from the top” of city government, which needs “some fresh leadership to change the tone.”
“There (are) some frustrating issues that the city’s dealing with right now,” he said.
Given his experience in city government as an alderman, Young noted he has worked with all the members on the City Council and is able to talk with them on issues, whether he agrees or disagrees.
He said Rhinelander needs a mayor with knowledge of the political process, and he is someone who can work with many groups of people.
Young said he believes there is a lot of power with the office of mayor, which he calls a “part-time job with full-time responsibilities,” and if elected he would be at all the council’s committee meetings and keep regular office hours at City Hall.
Frederickson said he believes he has the necessary skill set to be city’s mayor and fix problems.
In his 19 years at St. Mary’s Hospital and a dozen years coaching youth sports, Frederickson noted he has experience working with and managing people.
As a leader, he said his philosophy is to lead by respect, rather than fear, and he wants to establish relationships and be an effective communicator as mayor.
Frederickson said he favors the efforts of Forward Rhinelander to promote the community, which needs to grow.
“Our infrastructure needs to improve,” he said.
Frederickson, who noted he has been a board member of the Rhinelander Ice Arena, said he would be giving up youth coaching for city government to be able to commit the time to be mayor, for which he would want to be at all the committee meetings and hold office hours to be available on set days.
When asked about campaigning for mayor, Frederickson and Young both noted they have been in contact with each other and hope to have a “gentlemen’s agreement” in place while running to keep the race simple and civil.
Frederickson pointed out he already has a “Frederickson for Mayor” Facebook page in place and doesn’t want to spend “$20,000 for a $15,000 job.” He said he will have an account set up at Ripco to accept contributions and will also be self-funding his campaign.
Young said he put together a campaign budget, but declined to provide specific dollar amounts while mentioning his bid for mayor would be primarily self-funded.
Another council member who has been mentioned as a possible candidate next year for mayor, District 7 alderman Steve Sauer, said he doesn’t know at this point whether he will run and won’t be making a decision about doing so until nomination papers start being circulated in December. Sauer’s term on the City Council doesn’t expire until April 2020.