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Thursday, April 2, 2009

La Crosse mayoral candidates differ on sustainability

From an article by Samanta Marcus in the La Crosse Tribune:

The race for La Crosse mayor that comes to a head in just eight days is a study in contrasts.

La Crosse voters in the February primary set up a contest between an experienced woman backed by big Democrats and a young novice with conservative support.

Matt Harter and Dorothy Lenard rose to the top of a field of seven, ousting incumbent Mayor Mark Johnsrud, who came in fifth in the primary. . . .

Harter: Harter has been among the sustainability plan naysayers, though he objects to being labeled an opponent.

He said he thinks the plan will wind up costing the taxpayers, and leaders have to be sure to balance economic sustainability with environmental sustainability. Calling the plan overreaching, Harter said it’s in need of some editing, alluding often to a passage on discontinuing the annual Rotary Lights holiday display in Riverside Park.

“These things are things I think we should create an awareness of, but allow (people) to make their decisions on their own,” he said.

Lenard: A member of the city’s Joint Oversight Committee on Sustainability, Lenard helped author and introduced the ambitious 67-page plan calling for major reductions in energy consumption and shifts to renewable energy sources. She defended the document when opponents called it a threat to the free market and the American way of life.

At a recent forum hosted by a conservative watchdog group, Lenard said she was surprised they couldn’t get behind it.

“It is about conserving. It’s about being efficient. It’s about reducing fuel usage. Sustainability really is about savings,” said Lenard, who also penned the legislation designating La Crosse an eco-municipality. “It is about savings. I just have to prove it to you. And my job as mayor would be to bring you in and prove it to you.”

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