Shawano voters to decide mayoral candidates Tuesday

Shawano School District also has 2 primary races on tap

Tuesday could be a seminal day in politics for the city of Shawano as voters go to the polls to decide which two candidates will compete for mayor in the April election.

Incumbent Mayor Jeanne Cronce is seeking a second two-year term against challengers Jim Oberstein, a retired businessman, and Ed Whealon, retired Shawano police chief.

The two top vote-getters in the primary will face off in the city’s general election on April 3.

The candidates gathered last Tuesday for a forum to express their views, but not all were certain about whether their message got across.

“There’s still some misunderstanding about what’s going on,” Cronce said.

That includes the seeming slow pace of progress with vacant downtown buildings being addressed by the Shawano Redevelopment Authority, which, Cronce said, is a legal process that takes time.

“We are addressing the empty buildings as best we can,” she said.

Cronce said there might also still be some confusion about Tax Incremental Finance districts set up to encourage business to come to Shawano.

“Without them, they’d go elsewhere,” Cronce said. “I’m glad we have them.”

Whealon said the concerns of the business community are not being adequately addressed.

“I would pay attention and listen to all businesses,” Whealon said. “They all have a voice.”

Whealon said his role as police chief drove home that viewpoint.

“My job was to represent everyone’s interest,” he said.

Whealon, like Oberstein, also felt there was a need to improve the city’s communication with the public.

Other issues for Oberstein included addressing downtown’s vacant stores and offering more support for businesses along East Green Bay Street.

“There’s a lot of room to develop,” he said.

Oberstein also criticized what he said was the city’s lack of transparency when it came to matters like the proposed wheel tax.

“With more communication, it would have passed,” he said. “People feel they don’t have a voice anymore.”

Cronce and Oberstein faced off in the last Shawano mayoral general election in 2016 when Cronce edged Oberstein 1,434 to 1,290.

Whealon’s campaign for the city’s chief executive post marks his first foray into politics. Whealon retired as the city’s police chief in 2014 following a 34-year career with the police force, the last 12 serving as the city’s top law enforcement officer.

A primary will also be needed for two seats on the Shawano School Board to winnow down the number of candidates before the April election.

Area 4 incumbent Tyler Schmidt is being challenged for his seat by former teacher Mart Grams and Starlyn Rose Tourtillott.

Grams and Tourtillott are also both vying for the at-large board seat held by incumbent Bruce Milavitz. Grams lost a bid for Milavitz’s seat last year.