Trusty trustee leaves village post

Attorney Dixon Gahnz opted not to seek re-election as trustee for the Village of DeForest after serving six years.

It was a bittersweet moment for Dixon Gahnz last Wednesday as he asked his colleagues for a motion to adjourn the evening’s DeForest Village Board meeting.

After six years as a village trustee, it was the final gathering for Gahnz as a public servant after he opted this spring not to seek re-election. Fellow trustees took time to thank Gahnz for his service during the session.

“Overall this has definitely been rewarding,” Gahnz said after the meeting. “It's something I saw as a civic duty and it was an honor to have people put their trust in me to serve and represent them on the board.”

Forgoing his board seat was not an easy move for Gahnz, who became president of his Madison law firm in January, but mounting family and work commitments ultimately made it difficult to continue as a local public official.

Among the things Gahnz said he will miss most about the position is how trustees are always seemingly in the know.

“Being a trustee, you really know and understand everything that’s going on in the village,” he remarked. “You have the opportunity to talk with the department heads and know when an ambulance call goes out, an arrest takes place, or what new business is coming to town. You get that hands-on, everyday knowledge of the details.”

Asked to reflect on some of the accomplishments he’s most proud of from his time with the village, Gahnz quickly pointed to expanded trails and recreational offerings in DeForest. But one of his biggest disappointments, Gahnz said, was not doing more on that front.

“The thing that I think I'm most proud of is the increase in the number of trails and recreational opportunities in the village,” said Gahnz. “It's also my biggest disappointment on the flip side that, for a number of reasons, we were unable to get traction on a new community park.”

Moving forward, Gahnz is hopeful future boards will continue to value and expand DeForest’s recreational features. Gahnz also said he wants to see the village have its own identity and not become a characterless suburb.

“There are folks who want big boxes to come in,” Gahnz said. “If that's the case, kiss the idea of a whole downtown goodbye. You can kiss everything on South Street goodbye. It's all gone.”

Gahnz added: “My vision has been to keep this a village and have its own identity, invest in small individually-owned kinds of things.”

As for his fellow trustees, Gahnz admitted that they did not always agree on certain matters, but the collective intentions were always the same.

“It's always a challenge working with six other individuals and I certainly haven't always agreed with everyone, but without question the people that have served on this board have had the village's best interests at heart.”