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Weak mayor, strong council? Former Mayor Medinger doesn’t agree

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City council recently sent message to Mayor Kabat
how it believes power hierarchy should work.

Current assumptions about city government in La Crosse might not quite be accurate. 

Some on the city council have insisted, recently, on reminding La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat that the city’s system of government is a strong council and a weak mayor.

Former La Crosse Mayor John Medinger, who served from 1997-2005, would rebut that. He says a strong mayor system needs three things.

“You have to have the ability to veto,” Medinger listed. “You have to prepare an executive budget. And then you have to have the department heads working directly and answering to the mayor.”

Medinger continued, “Two thirds of those are already in play. Mayor creates the budget. I was the first one ever to do it. The mayor has the veto. I think it’s fine, the situation now, with the balance between the city council and the mayor as far as department heads.”

The council’s view of “weak mayor, strong council” all depends on one thing, Medinger believes.

“The position of mayor can be a very strong position depending on who’s in that seat,” Medinger said, adding, however that “the position of mayor is only as strong as the person that’s in that seat.”

Medinger agrees that Kabat uses the office with the authority of a strong mayor, no matter what the city council says.

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