May the best man be mayor

Barbara Young

The time has come to either elect a new mayor or re-elect the current one.

Randy Knaack, current Mayor of Menomonie, and Andrew Mercil, his adversary, will be vying for the position of mayor on April 1, 2014 at Menomonie ballot boxes.

Each candidate brings a unique view of Menomonie to the table and hopes to improve their favorite town through a term in office.

Current Mayor Randy Knaack has been in office since 2010 and is running for re-election.

“I really want to focus on some of the things that are good for the community, and I think I need one more term to accomplish what I set out to do,” Knaack said.

Knaack’s focus on Menomonie began with the reduction in pollution of Lake Menomin and has stayed in place over his years in office. He is dedicated to finding a solution to the polluted lake and has attempted to move towards a future with clear water several times.

Knaack, who has created a slime-sucking machine that was used briefly, has discussed ideas of lowering the lake to clean the bottom and wants to place scrims around beach areas, which will allow for the beaches to be re-opened and used by members of the community.

Knaack has served as mayor for four years and has established an open-door policy at the office.

“If I can help you, or if you need my help, the mayor’s office is here to help people,” said Knaack.

Knaack grew up in Menomonie and has spent his whole life with the people here. From performing at the Mabel Tainter to serving on the Menomonie School Board for six years, Knaack has served the people of Menomonie in many ways.

He has also run a self-owned marketing business, Knaack Advertising, since his father’s death in 1980. Knaack is also married with a son and daughter, who are both grown and living away from home.

“I care for people. I think that’s the biggest thing. I don’t care who you are, what you are, what color you are, what race you are; it doesn’t make any difference. My family and I, we just care for people. If there is something we can help with and if by being the mayor I can be more of a help to you than not, then by all means come into the mayor’s office and we’ll do everything we can to help you,” Knaack said.

Andrew Mercil, Knaack’s opponent, is a fresh face to the election but not to local politics. Having majored in Public Administration and Political Science, Mercil has a good feel for how politics work, especially on a local level.

“I’m passionate about local government because you have those tangible things where you can say ‘here’s what I’ve gone out and done,’” said Mercil.

Mercil is another Menomonie local. He says giving back to Menomonie has always been a large part of his life, either in the form of volunteering as a kid or as a serving member of the city council.

Mercil was elected to the City Council in 2011 and, upon re-election in 2013, was voted into the position of vice president, the youngest in Menomonie’s history.

The main issues for Mercil include reinvigorating neighborhoods, revitalizing Main Street, increasing jobs and growing the economy. Mercil wants to create a community in which graduated students will be able to stay after college and work.

Mercil wants to move Menomonie forward. “Ever since my time on the city council, I’ve seen the city of Menomonie stall out,” Mercil said. “My campaign slogan is ‘Moving Menomonie forward.’ We can’t halt progress.”

Should he be elected, Mercil hopes to empower the current city council members and citizens of Menomonie. He is passionate about finding ways community members can become active in the town. If a citizen has a problem or wants a problem solved, Mercil will find a way to get the person involved in the solution.

Mercil is currently employed at University of Wisconsin–Stout in the Registration and Records Office as the degree audit coordinator and senior check-out.

“I really like the opportunity to give back to the community I grew up in and to be able to do it in a leadership role where I know that I could empower others to participate and help out. I’m just one person. I alone can’t clean the lake; we have to come together as a community. I get really excited about the sense of being able to bring people together, have a conversation and figure out a goal that we can work towards, which is really important,” Mercil said.

We have a say in the future of Menomonie: students of University of Wisconsin–Stout are able to vote in the upcoming election. In order to vote, one only needs to have lived in Menomonie for 28 days. Students can register when they vote at either Price Commons or the Government Center.

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