Norton takes council reins, discusses future vision
Following the resignation of former 3rd District Alderman and Common Council president Ryan Schwartzman on Aug. 26, 7th District Alderman Rob Norton took the helm of council leadership on Sept. 11. Norton and 1st District Alderman Paul Russell were nominated by council members on the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 11; Norton prevailed to secure the council presidency 4-3.
“I have known Ryan for 10 years,” Norton said. “He has always put his family as top priority. His family and personal life have changed a lot in the past five years. I commend him on his decision. I know it was a tough one for him to make. I wish Ryan, Steph (wife), (children) Cooper, Renlee, Wyatt the very best.”
As for the future, Norton takes a seemingly progressive stance; listing a focus on uniting the council under the leadership of Mayor Derek Woellner, while continuing to move the city forward.
“My vision for the council is ‘Unity,’” the 51-year-old father of two explains. “I can see all eight alderpersons and the mayor, working together to continue to make Merrill a better place to work, live, and raise a family. Merrill needs to capitalize on its location and resources to become a destination of choice for new businesses, while continuing to support our local businesses. Other goals Norton lists include: continuing the development of the Merrill Festival Grounds, revitalizing communication channels between the city and business owners, and continuing to educate the community on city issues.
“It is a great honor to be nominated, and then elected for such a trusted position of leadership. I hope I can live up to their trust,” he adds.
Norton has held the 7th District seat since 2012 unopposed, with the exception of 2016 when he defeated challenger Ray Bloomer 245-116. Norton will remain council president through the next aldermanic election cycle in April 2020.
“Once again I’m honored to have been elected to this position,” Norton added. “I look forward to the opportunity to serve my constituents and the residents of Merrill.”