Please introduce yourself:
Hello, I am Cory Mason and I have the honor of serving the City of Racine as its mayor.
Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in Racine. I went to Walden for middle school and I am a Case High School alum. I am a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in philosophy. I currently live on the north side of the city with my wife Rebecca Mason and our three kids, Eleanor Roosevelt Mason, Amelia Earhart Mason, and Cory Mason V. Our kids will be the sixth generation in our family to call Racine home.
How did your life’s journey bring you (or keep you) to (in) Racine?
Great question. A mentor of mine once said to me, “It’s not what brings you, it’s what keeps you,” in a place. Being born here was a decision made by my parents. Staying as an adult in the city that I love has been one of the best decisions of my life.
I had the opportunity to work for Habitat for Humanity in Savannah, Georgia my first year out of high school. After graduating from UW-Madison I lived and worked in Madison as my wife was finishing law school. I have enjoyed living in other places. I think getting a perspective outside of Racine for several years has allowed me to better appreciate what an extraordinary place the City of Racine really is.
At the heart of it, Racine is home; it’s family. For me, while there are other places I have had the opportunity to live or visit, there is no other place that compares to Racine.
What do you like best about Racine?
If I had to pick one thing I would say our public schools. If I am of any value as a public servant it is because of the great education I received in RUSD schools. Our city will rise or fall based on the strength of these schools. It is amazing to see our own children flourish in the same schools I attended a generation ago.
Racine has a lot of really amazing places and characteristics that make it a great place to live. We have amazing neighborhoods, our downtown, the lakefront, a world class beach, a great zoo, kringle, and so many other things. I will say that one of my favorite places in the city is Wilson’s Coffee and Tea. It brings me great joy to pack up the family on the weekend and head over there to chat with neighbors and enjoy the Kenyan brew and a Morning Glory Muffin.
Please give some examples of how your work has made a positive impact on the community.
If there is one thing I have learned about being mayor, it is that “your work” is done in collaboration with other people. We have over 700 city employees who diligently serve the public every day to keep us safe and provide services. We have accomplished some good policy initiatives around job training and wages, local hire requirements, sustainability efforts, reducing inequities and poverty, neighborhood stabilization grants, dog parks, biergartens and smart city initiatives; all of this work is done in collaboration with the City Council and implemented with the partnerships we have made in the public, private and non-profit sectors.
What’s the least understood aspect about what you do?
The city faces a number of challenges. For most of them, the city cannot solve them alone. That is why partnerships are so important. We have worked very hard to strengthen our relationships with other units of government: RUSD, Racine County, Gateway Technical College, and UW-Parkside. We also partner with United Way and other important non-profits that are working hard every day to build a better community. While this coalition building and partnerships are not written specifically into the job description or widely understood, it is one of the most important things that I do.
What I would like to accomplish in the next 6-12 months?
There is a growing list of things that I would like to accomplish in the next year. Since being elected mayor, one of my highest priorities has been to position the city as a test bed for Smart City initiatives. Smart Cities use their resources and technology to deliver services to its residents in a more efficient way to improve the city’s livability, workability, equity and sustainability. With all the technology companies coming to the area, the city has assets that make it very attractive to individuals and businesses looking to innovate. I want to make sure that the City of Racine is welcoming for entrepreneurs and investors. Our community has been underappreciated for too long, but now, and in large part because of Foxconn, our time has finally come. The dynamic growth that is happening will only be here for so long so we have to seize this opportunity. It is my hope that Racine will be designated the first Smart City in Wisconsin very soon and that we will begin to have many more community conversations about all of the innovative things we can accomplish together.
What’s the best way to contact you?
Mayor@cityofracine.org or (262) 636-9111