Racine mayor to resign to head Great Lakes group

Dickert will lead organization challenging diversion of Lake Michigan water to Waukesha

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:20 pm

Racine Mayor John Dickert will step down from his position later this year to lead the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, a group of city leaders working to “restore and protect” the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.


“After some thorough reflection and discussion with my family, I have decided it is time to step back from the city to stand up for water on a bigger stage,” said Dickert, who will become president and chief administrative officer of the group later this year.

The Cities Initiative is currently challenging the diversion of Lake Michigan water to Waukesha under the 2008 Great Lakes Compact. The Great Lakes Compact Council recently heard oral arguments on the challenge, although the precedent setting case could ultimately be headed for federal court.

Dickert has been on the board of the Cities Initiative since 2010 and served as chair from 2014 to 2015.

In the challenge the Cities Initiative filed against the Waukesha diversion of Lake Michigan water, Dickert argued Racine had invested a lot of money in developing the Root River as a recreational and scenic area and the additional water from Waukesha’s return flow threatens those improvements. He also argued the return flow will increase the river’s pollutant load and that the city should be allowed to analyze the potential impact in more detail.

The Cities Initiative cited the revitalization of the Root River and North Beach in announcing Dickert’s new position. The organization also highlighted his involvement with the U.S. Conference of Mayors Water Council and the Wisconsin Coastal Management Commission.

Dickert, who holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications for the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, also has experience in real estate, consulting, development and lobbying.

He will replace David Ullrich, who step down from his position as executive director of the Cities Initiative later this summer.

Dickert said he was announcing the decision early to allow an orderly transition for the city. The Racine Common Council will determine a process for filling the vacancy.

“I will be here working on our development projects, the budget for next year and on the day-to-day activities that fill my calendar until my last day. We are not slowing down,” Dickert said.

Racine Democratic state Rep. Cory Mason announced he would run for the open mayoral position.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.