Young Mayor Encourages Everyone to Participate in Community Building
Monday, August 27, 2018
Mayor Alan Christianson was born and raised in Ladysmith. Both of his parents and grandparents were raised in Rusk County, so you could say that his roots run deep. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a double major in Finance and Business Administration, he decided to return home with the goal of applying his new knowledge and efforts to giving back to the community who helped to raise him. He knew firsthand how wonderful Ladysmith was to live in and knew that after graduating from college, he wanted to make Ladysmith his permanent home. Doing so has allowed him to build a successful career, give back to the local community, and do the things he loves, like playing in a local band. “Living and working in a small community with a minimal commute allows me to be involved in a lot of activities and organizations that I enjoy like the Ladysmith Jaycees, where I currently serve as Club President and the Rusk County Historical Society where I have previously served on the Board of Directors” said Alan. Additionally, he enjoys living in a close-knit and caring community with a low cost of living and beautiful natural resources. “Here, you can drive 5 minutes in any direction and go from being in the city to being on a quiet country road where you can enjoy wonderful natural resources, or you can attend great community events with live music.”
After moving home, he decided to run for office because “I see so much potential in my community and would like to work to foster that potential into growth and positive change.” We wanted to learn more about his progression from being a local kid in boy scouts to earning his degree, returning to Ladysmith and running for office. Here is what he had to say.
Q: What gave you your start in politics?
A: Growing up, my parents pushed me to be involved in community organizations including Ladysmith Cub Scout Pack 46, Boy Scout Troop 45 and the Rusk County Historical Society Museum. From a young age, I learned the value of contributing my time for the betterment of my community.
My father has been the City Administrator for Ladysmith for my entire life, so I had a first-row seat to the inner workings of local government. When I moved back to Ladysmith full-time following my graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Mayor Dan Gudis appointed me to the Ladysmith Park Board. Mayor Marty Reynolds appointed me to the Ladysmith Planning Commission during his tenure. Both appointments gave me a greater understanding of local politics. While appointing citizens to Boards and Committees following the election, I am also trying to develop the next generation of leaders in our community. Many of my appointees for my first year in office are new to local government and offered their time to work to improve our community.
Q: How has the community supported you?
A: I have received a great deal of support from friends, family and citizens who want to see change and progress in our community. People who are new to politics have accepted my invitation to sit on City boards and committees. Area residents have taken a more proactive approach of sharing the wonderful things happening in our community on various social media platforms. There are a few community members who now make a point to attend every council meeting that they are able to. New residents are asking how they can get involved in moving the community forward. It is wonderful to see.
Q: What do you do as the Mayor, Main Street Program Director, and ICAA Business Development Director?
The Mayor is the Chief Executive officer of the City and the public face of the citizens of Ladysmith. The Mayor should represent the best interests of the citizens of the City of Ladysmith, casting his or her own personal interests aside, to effectively lead Ladysmith forward. As Mayor, I also provide direction for the City's economic development and other long-range plans.
As Main Street Director, I work to improve Ladysmith’s quality of life and overall economy by strengthening the downtown as the center of the community through concentrated efforts in Organization, Design, Promotion and Economic Restructuring. Our program is aimed at preserving historic charm, fostering growth, promoting a sense of community and improving image so that Ladysmith will develop into a more attractive location for investors, property owners, business owners, and residents, while also becoming a destination point for visitors. A lot of the time in this program involves coordinating special events, cluster marketing campaigns and working with individual property owners to improve their businesses.
In my role as ICAA’s Business Development Director, I oversee our Business Development Programs. We primarily provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs in up to 13 counties in Northwest Wisconsin. We provide one on one business planning, marketing and financial planning assistance as well as working with other regional partners to host business trainings on a variety of topics. We also provide ongoing case management and can assist with loan packaging.
Q: What are your future goals for the community?
I hope to see Ladysmith become a more attractive place to live for both young families as well as retirees. Like many communities in our part of the state, we are seeing declining populations, which puts the tax burden on fewer and fewer citizens. We need to work to correct population decline if we are going to survive and thrive. I want to see our community embrace new ideas including those brought forth by our youth. To that end, I recently developed a Youth Commission, to be comprised of high school and middle school students from our school district with help from district administrators and the City Council. It is my hope that this commission will provide our youth with a voice in local government decisions. I hope to see Ladysmith work to attract new residents by developing quality of life amenities like bike paths and multifunctional public spaces as well as working with developers for new housing, industrial and commercial developments. I would like to see my successful campaign for the office of Mayor empower other new people to run for local offices, whether they are running for City Council, County Board, Village or Town Boards or even running for Mayor. Contested elections keep our elected officials accountable and fresh sets of eyes bring new ideas. The time is now for us to turn our community into what we want it to be!
Q: Is there anything the community can do to support you and to help you achieve them? How can people get involved?
A: The community can support these goals by getting involved in the discussions and in the decision-making process. They can come to meetings or provide their input and ideas to myself or their city council representative. As elected officials, we are here to serve our citizens whether or not they voted for us. I would like to see us all take an active approach in getting out into new places to talk with citizens who may not be comfortable attending City Council meetings or may not be able to attend due to work schedules or other factors.
People can get involved by contacting me directly. Everyone should have a seat at the table. I will be looking for more interested individuals to fill Board and Committee positions in 2019. People who don’t want to serve in one of these groups can still get involved by coming to meetings or contacting any member of our council or city staff to share their ideas and concerns. For more information on how to get involved or about Ladysmith, click visit www.cityofladysmithwi.com.
All are welcome here
Mayor Christianson has one clear message for those looking to make a move to a smaller community. “Ladysmith is ready to grow and would like to invite anyone who is interested to join us, get involved and become a part of our growth.”