Our View

Leader endorses Cronce in Shawano mayor race

Jeanne Cronce

America in 2016 is engrossed in the latest reality television fad to sweep the nation — politics. Be it local, state or national elections, the contact sport of modern day politics is drawing record numbers of voters and engaging Americans both young and old alike to take notice of the importance of participating in our democracy.

Shawano is no different.

Shawano voters face an important decision Tuesday when they cast ballots in the first contested mayoral race in 14 years. Much is at stake as the City on the Wolf faces a critical leadership transition determining how Shawano deals with the challenges it faces today and in the future.

The city of Shawano is blessed with many amenities, including abundant recreational opportunities, pristine and scenic waterways, strong parks system and state-of-the-art health care. Shawano’s strategic location on the Highway 29 corridor places the city in position to grow and develop.

These amenities alone will not guarantee a successful future. A clear vision, an effective strategic plan and innovative leadership are also needed.

Too many vacant buildings dot the downtown and other business districts. Too many residents struggle with poverty and related social issues. Racial divides persist. Community leaders struggle to lure employers paying livable wages; existing businesses are stymied by an unprepared workforce.

A mayor alone cannot solve all of these issues, many of which are not unique to Shawano, but our mayor must set an agenda, or perhaps a better word is a vision, for what the city can become and the steps needed to get there.

Shawano voters were most fortunate in this year’s mayoral race as two well-qualified candidates offered to take on the challenges of leading the city. Jim Oberstein and Jeanne Cronce are to be commended on the honorable campaigns they brought to local voters.

The Shawano Leader’s editorial board believes Jeanne Cronce is best suited to lead Shawano to a bright future.

We believe Shawano needs a mayor who is a proactive leader, allowing department heads and employees to perform their jobs but also encouraging new approaches and, to generate new ideas, taking reasonable risks.

We need a mayor who is comfortable collaborating with various agencies and commissions working on economic development, tourism and downtown issues, but also has the strength and confidence to hold them accountable, pushing and cajoling them when needed.

Yes, Shawano’s mayor is limited by statute as to operational decision-making and legislative powers, but there are no laws limiting the mayor’s ability to lead and inspire. The job must continue to be more than a goodwill ambassador, ribbon-cutter and parliamentary procedures expert. The mayor must be our community’s undisputed leader.

A lifelong Shawano resident, Cronce knows the community well. As a longtime educator and school principal, she has seen the effects of the community’s social issues on families and children — and clearly appreciates the value of diversity. As a plan commission member, she has participated in the process of development in the city. As a member of several community organizations, she has made connections that will help her navigate the challenges that lay ahead.

Although Cronce’s campaign did not present a plan of action with specific details, which is concerning, she has shared ideas regarding the future of the former Shawano Medical Center, the potential need for additional industrial park property, the importance of a marquee special event to draw people to Shawano, and the types of retail businesses necessary for a successful shopping base.

Anyone sitting in the mayor’s chair will face myriad challenges over the next two years and will be held accountable by voters regarding the job they do.

We believe Jeanne Cronce is the right person for the job.

Editor’s note: A five-person editorial board, including three newspaper and two community representatives, met with Jeanne Cronce and Jim Oberstein during the endorsement process. We appreciate their willingness to share their plans and thoughts with us. Please remember to vote for the candidate of your choice on Tuesday.