By Jessica Thill
When Mac Kiel was approached by a friend last fall about the possibility of running for Common Council in La Crosse’s District 7 (district map here), the decision to say yes was easy. “Considering the kinds of important decisions that are made at the city level, I see this as another way to make an impact on my community and continue to educate others,“ said Kiel in a recent conversation with The La Crosse Independent.
The desire to positively impact the community, and the lives of young people in particular, has been a constant thread throughout Kiel’s life. After graduating with an Educational Studies degree from Viterbo University, Kiel worked in various positions with the La Crosse Area Boys and Girls Club. Her husband Andrew still works there as Director of Operations, although Kiel now works as an Admissions Coach at Western Technical College. “We met at the Boys & Girls Club, so it’s like a big family for us,” says Kiel.
Their family also includes two-year-old son Fynnigan and very good dog Piper. Kiel’s identities as a woman and mother are motivating factors for her as she campaigns. “I would love to prove that moms can still do this. Yes, even with young children. As a younger woman, I don’t currently have any representation on the council,” she continues. “Hopefully, I will be able to bring some fresh ideas in — some fresh eyes and a different perspective.”
One of those fresh ideas is making meetings more accessible to people with caretaking responsibilities. She believes free or low-cost community-supported childcare during public meetings could encourage more people to fully engage in city decision-making processes, especially once in-person meetings resume. This idea also supports one of Kiel’s primary goals: centering the needs of our community’s youth population.
“With my experience at the Boys & Girls Club, I have developed strong relationships with a lot of young people and their families. As a result, I’ve also become very passionate about homelessness, which I know is a hot topic.” Kiel points to housing insecurity and food insecurity as issues that need to be addressed immediately, especially with the promise of more federal relief coming to the city. “These are super important issues. I have seen how quickly youth and young families are impacted and it seems that we have the opportunity to come up with some innovative solutions at the city level.”
Kiel also hopes to deepen her relationships with the neighborhood associations in her district. “Learning about neighborhood issues has been a huge learning curve and a lot of fun. For example, I have learned so much about floodplain issues, just from talking with constituents.” Kiel looks forward to continuing to learn once she’s elected. “Asking questions is something I do a lot of in any of my roles because I think it is important to have a good, full understanding of things and not just breeze past something because it’s complex or intimidating. I want to bring new energy and creative ideas to solve our community’s problems.”