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CITY OF LACROSSE

La Crosse City Council finalizes aldermanic districts; 3 members drawn out of their district

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The city of La Crosse has finalized its redistricting plan.

By an 8-5 vote Thursday, the La Crosse City Council approved a new map for the city’s 13 aldermanic districts to reflect population changes in the 2020 census. The new districts will align with La Crosse County Board of Supervisors’ districts and reduce the number of ballot styles the city must prepare.

However, several council members took exception to what they said were significant changes in district boundaries. Three members — Justice Weaver, District 5; Chris Kahlow, District 6; and Jennifer Trost, District 11 — will be drawn out of their districts.

Council member Doug Happel said he sympathizes with constituents who will live in significantly reconfigured aldermanic districts.

“The districts we have right now are very doggone stable,” Happel said. “People have gotten used to who their council members are. We’ve gotten used to who our constituents are.”

Council member Mark Neumann called the maps “disruptive and unnecessary” but voted in favor due to a looming deadline with the state. Candidates in next spring’s election can start distributing nomination papers Dec. 1.

“The people involved had to work fast and did the best they could,” Neumann said.

City clerk Nikki Elsen said the deadline was “tomorrow” for forwarding information to the state.

“Time is really of the essence,” Elsen said. “We’re beyond being able to change anything.”

She said even though there are no city council races up for election next spring, the city still has to approve the 26 election wards in the city.

“People need to be put in wards so we can determine ballot styles,” Elsen said.

She said making city council districts “coterminous” with county supervisory districts and reducing the number of city wards from 35 to 26 will make for more efficient elections and save tax dollars.

Kahlow agreed the city had no choice but to pass the proposal but said she would cast a “protest vote.” She said the city lacked sufficient representation when the county passed its redistricting plan.

“I know we have to pass this,” Kahlow said. “I ask the county board that in 10 years that they please be sure that the city of La Crosse has more equitable representation on the redistricting committee.”

La Crosse Tribune reporter Steve Rundio can be reached at steve.rundio@lee.net.

"Time is really of the essence. We're beyond being able to change anything."

City clerk Nikki Elsen

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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