At age 28, La Crosse mayor won't seek 2nd termHarter decided not to run for a second term next year, saying he needs to experience "a normal job" in the private sector before deciding whether he wants to carve out a long-term career in politics, according to a La Crosse Tribune report.
LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — Matt Harter, who became La Crosse's youngest mayor three years ago when he was elected at age 24, said one term is enough for him — at least for now.
Harter decided not to run for a second term next year, saying he needs to experience "a normal job" in the private sector before deciding whether he wants to carve out a long-term career in politics, according to a La Crosse Tribune report.
"For the next four years, I believe the community is better off having someone else" as mayor, Harter said Friday.
Harter, whose previous experience was as a business-development coordinator for his father's refuse-hauling company, ran in 2009 as the "24-year-old from the North Side." He defeated Councilwoman Dorothy Lenard in the mayoral race, capturing almost 55 percent of the vote.
He ran as a conservative who pledged to hold the line on taxes, according to the newspaper. He kept that promise, even threatening to veto the 2013 budget unless the Common Council reconvened to adjust it and avoid a tax rate increase.
But Harter's decision-making style sometimes clashed with the council, which overrode 22 of his 28 vetoes.
Several council members said they weren't surprised by Harter's decision not to run, considering that he had taken on such a formidable role with no previous government or administrative experience.
"I think it's not an easy job, to oversee the operation of a multimillion-dollar organization," Council President Audrey Kader said. "And while I think the mayor gave it his best effort, given his statements, he may not have realized the scope of it until he got into it."
Councilman Chris Olson added: "Once he was there I think it was something he wasn't totally expecting."
Harter's decision could trigger a wide-open 2013 race. In 2005, the last time the incumbent chose not to run, 14 people announced their candidacies.
The only declared candidate so far is Randy Magno, chairman of the Washburn Neighborhood Association.
Harter didn't rule out coming back to politics at some point. For now, though, he said he plans to "fade away a little bit, let someone else take the responsibility."
While he repeatedly cited his youth as a factor in his decision to step down, he said future candidates should not be judged by theirs.
"It's not a matter of age," Harter said.
Information from: La Crosse Tribune, http://www.lacrossetribune.com