Since John Dickert announced his plans to resign as Mayor of Racine in May, five candidates for his former position have entered the fray.
The primary election will be held Sept. 19. The top two people with the most votes will then be on the ballot for the special election on Oct. 17.
Racine County Eye asked the candidates for information about themselves and answers to questions that will likely be important to residents and voters in Racine. Over the next five days, Racine County Eye will publish the responses each candidate provided for a series of questions.
The following are biographies submitted by the candidates and were lightly-edited by Racine County
Candidates For Mayor
Austin K. Rodriguez is a lifetime resident of Racine and the CEO of Fiscal Wireless INC. DBA The Buddy Shop, where he has devoted all of his time into developing an electronic repair market, although, the business opened in 2015.
He has extensive experience in skilled trades. He participated in O.I.C. Youth Build Program and also the Urban League of Racine and Kenosha where he obtained his pre-apprenticeship skilled trades certificate. He has worked in various fields from carpentry, electrical, and plumbing.
In 2006, Rodriguez worked in the field of cellular communications selling for a third-party indirect agent as a sales associate where he led his team of associates a Mobile Solutions, an indirect seller of T-Mobile devices. His location became the #1 selling location out of 500 stores local, state, and, nationwide. In 2009, Rodriguez announced his interest in politics and made a run for mayor of Racine in a special election.
In 2012, he landed a partnership where he developed and worked with Something Different. In 2013, his partner Dean Brown passed away unexpectedly. Rodriguez was then given the option to conduct business on his own and today is still in operation.
Rodriguez has a passion for Aeronautics. He has participated in the Aviation’s pilot training program and did obtain the required training of 14 CFR 61.105 and 14 CFR 141 Appendix B (3)(a) Introduction to Aviation. The requirements needed before obtaining your private pilot license. He was also the president of the aviation club at Gateway Technical College in 2013.
Rodriguez’s mother was born in Honolulu and he takes pride in his Native Hawaiian culture. His father is also a lifelong resident of Racine who was drafted into the U.S. Army and served more than 25 years. Both parents also worked more than 34 years and retired from Chrysler.
Representative Cory Mason represents the 66th Assembly District in the Wisconsin State Legislature. He was first elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2006 and re-elected in 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014.
Mason is currently the ranking Assembly Democratic member of the Assembly Committee on Environment and Forestry, the Joint Legislative Council, and Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems. Representative Mason also serves on the Assembly Committee on Tourism.
He previously served as the ranking Assembly Democratic member of the Joint Committee on Finance, the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, the Assembly Committee on Labor, as well as serving as the Vice-Chair of a Special Legislative Study Committee on Infant Mortality.
A fifth-generation Racine resident and a graduate of Case High School, Mason received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Representative Mason and his wife, Rebecca, live in Racine with their three young children, Eleanor Roosevelt Mason, Amelia Earhart Mason, and Cory H. Mason V.
In addition to his legislative committees, Mason is Chair of the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus, an active member of the Root River Council, a former board member of the River Alliance of Wisconsin, and the former co-chair of the I-94 Labor Development Committee.
Mason was named the 2009-2010 Legislator of the Year by the Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association for his consistently strong support of Wisconsin’s technical colleges. He has received several other notable awards in recent months, including the 2014 Children’s Champion Policy Award by the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin; the 2013 Friend of the UW Award by the United Council of UW Students; the River Champion Award by the River Alliance of Wisconsin; being named 2012 Legislator of the Year by the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin; being named both a Conservation Champion and to the Conservation Honor Roll for 2011-2012 by the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters; and he was also given an Award of Merit by the Wisconsin Association for Career and Technical Education.
Sandy Weidner is the current alderperson for Racine’s 6th district. A graduate of Horlick High School, she has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin.
In the late 1980s, she worked for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 40. Then from 1991 to 2012, she was at the office of Employees International Union.
She has served in her current aldermanic position since 2000, council president in 2006 and on the Board of Cemetery Commissioners from 2000 to 2017.
Weidner is a lifelong resident of Racine. She has three children and four grandchildren.
And when she’s not working, she’s putzing in her garden.
Melvin Hargrove is a Racine native and the founder and pastor of Zoe Outreach Ministries.
Hargrove has served on the Police and Fire Commission, the Racine Unified School District Board of Education and the City Plan Commission.
He is an alumnus of St. Catherine’s High School and the University of Wisconsin Parkside where he studied sociology. Prior to attending college, Hargrove served for 19 years in the US Army and was deployed to Iraq in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He has three kids and is also raising his great niece.
For 30 years Hargrove has worked for the people in Racine as an elected, appointed official and non-profit work. He currently sits on the boards of a number of nonprofits and foundations. He sits on the board for the UW-Parkside Foundation, he’s a member of the Rotary Club and he sits on the board for Segue Racine, Inc. among several others.
He studied police science at Gateway Technical College and has a certificate from Vanderbilt University’s Journalism Diversity Institute.
He has three children and 11 grandchildren.
Fabian Maldonado was born and raised in Racine. And he is currently the co-chair of the Racine Green Party.
He graduated from Case High School in 2007 and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2016.
As a member of the Green Party, he has worked on criminal justice initiatives aimed at decriminalizing marijuana in Racine, ending systemic racism, and reducing the incarceration of nonviolent offenders.
Maldonado has also been active in social justice movements elsewhere. Recently, he was at the Standing Rock protest in North Dakota.
He has previously worked at the BRP US Inc., plant in Sturtevant, and also did a four-year stint at Second City doing sketch comedy and improv.