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Committee addresses fears of La Crosse replacing mayor with city administrator



City council will vote on making city clerk appointed position. 

The apparent fears some in La Crosse have about replacing the mayor with a city administrator are being addressed at City Hall.

Council president Martin Gaul mentioned those fears Monday night, as the judiciary committee passed a plan to make city clerk an appointed post, rather than an elected one.

Committee member Patrick Brever brushed off criticism that the proposed change is part of a plot to hire a city administrator.

“The situation was a little bit different but, with the administrator referendum in 2012, that failed 6o percent to 40 percent,” Brever said.

Brever, however, still has some misgivings about making the clerk an appointed job, because that would take away a position now elected by La Crosse voters.

Gaul argued that moving toward an appointed clerk is the opposite of wanting a city administrator.

“I believe that having professional staff, surrounding not only the council but the mayor, allows us the flexibility to maintain elected positions in those offices,” Gaul said Monday at the committee meeting.

Next week, the full city council takes up the proposed change.

Committee members suggested that they’d like to keep long-time clerk Teri Lehrke on the job, if she wants to stay after the end of her current elected term.

Lehrke has been in the job since 1993, having been re-elected last April for a seventh consecutive term.

So, she has a little less than four years left in her current term, the position change wouldn’t occure until 2021.

Pay for the city clerk position was just increased to $75,000 annually. Whether that would increase if the position is no longer an elected one is still to be determined.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also 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. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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