Within the last year, both the La Crosse City Council and County Board are approaching subjects often left to debate on the state and federal level; but should they be?
Topics like global warming, sanctuary cities, gerrymandering and Citizens United, all garnering more attention at the local level. However, some local government officials differ on whether the issues should be discussed.
La Crosse City Council President Martin Gaul says the city should avoid debating the issues all together.
“These have become partisan issues,” he said. “I don’t know that they should be, but they are.That’s the problem you deal with on the floor. People look at these a certain way, you can vote on these, make your opinion known on these and you’re automatically aligned with one political group or another and more often than not, I don’t think that’s the case.”
Late last year, the council was approached with a resolution of recognizing climate change and supporting a carbon tax was brought to the floor by a council member. Gaul says the issues can be divisive and believes the council’s time can be better spent tackling other issues.
“The way I look at this is it should be business of the city that we can have an immediate impact on,” Gaul said. “Those are the things we should discuss.”
County Board member Maureen Freedland said she believes its the responsibility of local officials to approach these subjects.
“I don’t think the citizens are opposed and I think they want us to be concerned about the bigger issues and not just the narrow ones,” she said.
Last year, the County Board passed a resolution recognizing climate change and one joining other counties around the state in a push to end partisan gerrymandering. Both resolutions passed unanimously.
“We were able to show that this is a really bipartisan issues, it’s not separate political issues.”
Freedland says many state and federal issues have local financial repercussions and the county is doing its job by exploring them. Gaul maintains as city council president, he’s trying to make sure everyone works together as positively and cohesively as possible.