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Gilsdorf elected Walbridge council chief on vote by mayor

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Wood County Commissioner Joel Kuhlman, left, swears in Walbridge Mayor Ed Kolanko on Wednesday at the first city council meeting of 2014. Four council members also took the oath of office.

THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
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Wood County Commissioner Joel Kuhlman did the honors in Walbridge last week at the swearing-in of Mayor Ed Kolanko and village council members Larry Boday, Ken Gilsdorf, Sue Hart-Douglas, and Ron Liwo.

He also had some praise for the community. “I think Walbridge has really been successful in staying above the fray and working together,” Mr. Kuhlman said.

Over the years, Walbridge earned publicity for its often fractious government. As irony would have it, a short time after the commissioner spoke, Mayor Kolanko had to cast a tie-breaking vote when council deadlocked over appointing its own president, who is next in the line of succession if the office of mayor becomes vacant.

Mr. Kolanko was the council president before gaining the village’s highest elective office a year ago after longtime incumbent mayor Dan Wilczynski forfeited the position for not attending enough council meetings to comply with state law.

Mr. Kolanko ran unopposed in November and will complete the remaining two years of his predecessor’s term. The sworn-in council members have four-year terms.

Breaking the tie vote for council president was the mayor’s first official action of the year. He did so reluctantly after members deadlocked 3-3 in two rounds of voting for Mr. Gilsdorf and Mr. Liwo.

“This is council’s decision, not my decision,” the mayor said before asking council members for the second round of voting. “I can walk out and you can discuss it as adults, or I can vote.”

When the second round of votes came in the same as the first, the mayor cast his vote for Mr. Gilsdorf, who had voted for himself and was supported by Lauren LaRoe and Larry Boday. Supporting Mr. Liwo were Mr. Liwo, Ms. Hart-Douglas, and Fred Sloyer.

“I do not take pride in doing that,” Mr. Kolanko said after casting his tie-breaker.

Last year, Walbridge celebrated its centennial with a succession of events. Darlene Limmer, head of the centennial committee, told the mayor and council that her nonprofit group was dissolving and would donate its remaining $1,000 to the village’s police bicycle patrols.

She also asked council to schedule time at a February meeting to receive two time capsules that would be secured at the village hall as part of the centennial observance. The capsules will be opened in 25 and 50 years and contain newsletters, photos, and other artifacts.

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