Mayor Schmitt not running for re-election in 2019

Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt
Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt (Photo courtesy City of Green Bay)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt says it's time for someone new to lead the city.

At a reception for city board and commission members, Jim Schmitt officially announced he won't seek re-election when his term is up in April 2019.

It’s a decision Schmitt says he made more than a month ago.

“I think that is a good decision for Jim Schmitt,” said Schmitt. “I just feel very confident, very good about what we've done together here, but it's time for someone else to look at the elected avenue of Green Bay.”

Schmitt took office in 2003. Under Schmitt's watch, the city's downtown saw major revitalization, Bay Beach built the Zippin Pippin roller coaster, and the city established more than 35 neighborhood associations.

More recently, in 2016, Schmitt was convicted of three misdemeanor campaign finance violations, which later came one city council vote from costing him his job.

“There has been criticism since 2002 of me and that's just part of the process,” said Schmitt. “Politics is a tough, sometimes ugly business.”

However, Schmitt says the good outweighs the bad. Schmitt says being mayor is the best job. He hopes someone who is qualified and passionate steps up to take over.

“I think any city would look for someone who is educated, who has got strong leadership skills, has got a track record of moving things forward,” said Schmitt.

“He's still playing the little dictator thinking he can tell the people of Green Bay who they should vote for,” said Guy Zima, a Green Bay alderman and longtime Schmitt critic.

City council members provided differing views of how Schmitt's tenure will be remembered.

“He has always been a pay for play guy,” said Zima. “He’s neglected the basics in the city of Green Bay and he’s given it away to a very small group of people. The accomplishments I think have come despite him.”

“I think his tenure is always going to be marked by downtown development,” said Tom Sladek, a Green Bay Alderman.

Schmitt says he has no plans to run for office again. He isn't sure exactly what he'll do next, but he says whatever it is, one thing is for sure: it will benefit the city in some way.

“I just hope people feel as good about Green Bay as I do,” said Schmitt. “That's been my goal since day one.”

Schmitt says his goals before leaving office include opening the Hotel Northland, starting construction on the Shipyard project, and finding candidates to succeed him.

Three people who currently are serving in elected office have already expressed interest in Schmitt’s job.

City Council President Tom DeWane and Brown County Supervisor Pat Evans, who both previously opposed Schmitt, say they're considering running.

Democratic State Representative Eric Genrich was at Schmitt's announcement Tuesday and says he will also be thinking about the job.

“In the Assembly, I'm one of 99, so it's difficult to get as much accomplished for the people of Green Bay as I'd like to, so that is part of the appeal of the office of mayor,” said Genrich.

Mayor Sam Halloin also served 16 years as Green Bay's mayor, from 1979-1995.