RACINE — Alderman John Tate II, who
has been a vocal, active member of the council since he was elected in
2017, is aiming for second term serving the 3rd District on the City
Tate ran for Mayor
Cory Mason’s former seat in the Legislature last year and lost to Greta
Neubauer and is most well-known for putting the marijuana referendum on
the city’s ballot last fall and authoring the directive to Racine Police
Department to issue citations for first-time marijuana possession under
Ricky Jarstad, a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, is running for office for
the first time and said he would represent those who do not approve of
the direction the city is taking.
Residents will get to choose between the two on April 2.
3rd District is roughly bounded by Sixth Street or Kinzie Avenue on the
north; West Boulevard, Washington Avenue or Taylor Avenue on the west;
21st Street on the south; and Racine Street or the Union Pacific
Railroad tracks on the east. To see a map of the district, go online to:
Racine aldermen serve two-year terms with an annual salary of $6,899.
The candidates provided some information on their backgrounds and insights into why they are running.
What do you think about the general direction the city is taking?
Most people I have spoken with in the 3rd District and city do not
approve the direction the city is taking. Cuts to services, crumbling
roads/alleys, bloated debt, serious racial inequality, expanding
government secrecy, and tone-deaf city leaders are what I heard most
often from neighbors across the district. As a real person, I heard loud
and clear their concerns and I will take positive action on their
behalf. No one will be left behind.
For the first time in a long time, the city is moving in a direction
where tangible positive progress can be observed. With increased
cooperation between the city, surrounding municipalities, and the
county, we’re able to address systemic issues that go beyond the limited
reach of city government. It is also extremely critical that city
leaders establish policies and provisions to ensure that this period of
growth and investment is of the benefit of all residents.
do you think about the city’s recent actions on marijuana possession?
Specifically what do you think about the City Council’s recent marijuana
directive ordering the Police Department to issue citations, rather
than charges, for first time possession offenses for less than 25 grams?
While it was passed in good faith, each officer still has the
discretion on whether to charge with the state statute or city ordinance
for cannabis possession. The mayor and police chief also set the
priorities of city law enforcement so it is them who need to set
concrete policy within the RPD. Racine also needs leaders who will
personally lobby state leaders in Madison for genuine cannabis reform,
beyond just partisan lines.
Editor’s note: Both
City Attorney Scott Letteney and Police Chief Art Howell have confirmed
that the directive is Racine Police Department policy as of Jan. 17, so
charging decisions are not at an officer’s discretion.
The council’s actions are completely within the bounds of the state
statute, which grants municipalities authority to 1) regulate first-time
possession offenses 25 gram or less, and; 2) issue lawful orders to the
police chief. Further, this is a matter of maximizing law enforcement’s
limited resources. Their role is too critical to the safety of the
community to be spent on minor marijuana possession. And perhaps most
importantly, the Council’s actions are a direct reflection of the will
of the people, which is what should happen in a functioning
How would you like to see the city address poverty and high unemployment?
Residents need to be offered genuine opportunities for jobs of the 21st
century to thrive and succeed in our community. Apprenticeships and
meaningful recruitment drives should be regularly held. The city should
also continue to partner with technical colleges to expand opportunities
The city must be a leader in setting equitable standards for
employment. That means paying a living wage, ensuring that city
contractors do the same, and setting workforce inclusion standards for
major city projects. The city is currently investing in worker training
programming through RCEDC. We must also prioritize Racine-based training
programs, such as First-Choice Apprenticeship and Racine Vocational
Ministries, as they have been most consistently and effectively working
to grow and train our workforce.
How would you like to see the city handle transparency in local government?
One of my reform plans is to create a citizens board for government
accountability. The board, which will remain independent from City Hall,
will be made up of ordinary citizens who investigate complaints and
give their recommendations to the city. Residents of Racine crave
honesty and integrity from our city leaders. I will champion it!
The city can always be more proactive in communicating its plans and
actions with residents. Failure to do so can engender feelings of
distrust and lack of confidence in government processes. Including a
break down of how taxes are divided by the various taxing bodies in tax
bills is a good example of proactively informing residents of how their
government works. Further, the city should begin to broadcast various
committee meetings in the same fashion as the council meetings, as this
is where ideas and polices are discussed in much greater detail.
What do you think is the most important issue facing the city and how will you help address it?
The most important issue facing our community today is trust. Residents
are growing distrustful of polished politicians. And I hear you. As an
independent voice, I am not answerable to any political party or special
interest. I will be answerable to residents first and foremost and will
take positive and meaningful action on your behalf, making decisions
that represent a balance between the will of the people and public
safety, and without regard for party politics and personal agendas.
Racial inequality and inequity. As the third worst city for black
people in America, the City of Racine cannot be successful, if major
segments of its population are suffering. Racial disparities in health
care outcomes, crime, and poverty are all inextricably linked by the
underlying systemic racism upon which some of our federal, state, and
local policies are established. Any real solution to one must include a
solution to the other, and must acknowledge the role that racial
prejudice has played in creating the problem.