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Wednesday - April 19, 2017 12:20 am

La Crosse city council names new president, as Swantz steps down

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Council has shrunk from 17 to 13 members.

La Crosse has a new, smaller city council and a new council president. 

Former president Dick Swantz may be a tough act to follow.

The former La Crosse school superintendent left the council Tuesday because he moved to a different district.  

Veteran council member Martin Gaul has been elected to succeed him on the, now, 13-member common council. 

Asked if he believes citizens have confidence in the community's elected leaders, Gaul said, "There are always going to be differences of opinion on the direction that we take. 

Honestly, I think that the people we've got on the council right now and the people that we've got coming on, I think their visions are not dissimilar from each other. We all know the challenges that we've gotta face and we're going to face them together and move the city along."

Gaul received 10 votes for president, while newly-elected Barb Janssen received three.

Janssen, who has been active with the Memorial Pool committee and other projects, argued that it was time to have a fresh face with new experience in a leadership post at city hall.

Gaul has been active in transportation matters at city hall and served on the recently disbanded parking utility board.

Gaul is one of six returning members, who was sworn in on Tuesday, along with seven new to the council.

If Swantz had not retired from the council, Gaul may not have been persuaded to run.

"I was approached to see if I had interest in it," Gaul said. "I had some initial reservation but, I have to say, council president Swantz was my biggest supporter as far as running for this job and that's why I decided to do so."

Gaul says a major challenge posed by a reduced council with a majority of brand new members is to find ways for work to get done.









Brad Williams

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from U-W-La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area.  Brad writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse.  He's been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.  

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