Boyd takes over as De Pere mayor
By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – With Mike Walsh deciding not to seek re-election, the City of De Pere is now under new leadership for the first time in 24 years.
James Boyd, who began as an alderman in 2008, was officially sworn in as the new mayor Friday, April 17.
“We are currently dealing with difficult times, but I’m excited to take over,” said Boyd, who will be retiring as an educator with the De Pere school district June 10. “There’s much I want to continue that Mike accomplished, but right now, my priority is helping the city get through the COVID-19 crisis.”
Boyd said he and Walsh had talked a few times over the past year about the possibility of him running for mayor, but they hadn’t discussed it lately.
“When I found out Mike wasn’t going to run again, it kind of caught me off guard a bit,” he said. “That was the first time I firmly decided to run – when Mike decided not to declare. He got me involved in public service, but aside from that, there was no pushing or private discussion with him about me running. I think people assumed I would run, but it wasn’t until the last three or four years where I began thinking about the possibility. I made it clear to Mike I would never run against him – it was his timeline. I have some big shoes to fill, but I don’t feel added pressure to take over for him.”
Boyd said he and Walsh have worked closely over the past 12 years, and they have the same visions and goals for De Pere.
“People probably won’t notice much of a difference in how the city is run except for the face,” he said. “I believe strongly in the city and the city staff we have. The direction won’t change much for now.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Safer at Home orders from Gov. Tony Evers, Boyd said he feels bad for De Pere businesses.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but we are up for it,” he said. “I believe strongly in the governor’s Safer at Home orders, but it’s a balancing act. The city will continue to provide services and be there for the residents, whether it be offering help to businesses or to give direction for food assistance. Other priorities will have to take the backseat for now.”
Long term, Boyd said he wants to continue to revitalize downtown De Pere and continue to make the city a great place to live.
“We have some exciting projects coming up in the next year,” he said. “As of now, the Mulva Cultural Center will be breaking ground soon.”
After 34 years as an educator and 32 years as a cross country, track and field and basketball coach, Boyd said he doesn’t like the fact school and spring sports were canceled.
“Like most people, I was getting prepared for it,” he said. “It doesn’t feel good, but it’s not shocking.”
He said his coaching career at De Pere is still up in the air.
“I decided to retire from teaching when I decided to run for mayor,” Boyd said. “By law, I’ve got to stay out of the public schools for 75 days. For cross country, that doesn’t work (because it starts in August). It looks like I’ll have to give that up for at least for the year – I’m not happy about that. I still haven’t decided on track and field yet, but I’d like to continue coaching or be involved somehow.”
Boyd has two daughters, McKenzie and Anna, and his wife’s name is Tracy.
“Aside from being born at St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, I’ve been a De Pere resident my whole life,” said Boyd. “I graduated from De Pere High School and went to college at St. Norbert. I love the city.”