On April 2, 1922, Janesville voted 3,098-2,387 to change from a mayoral system to the city council-manager system, and seven people were elected to two-year terms on the council. Henry Traxler in 1923 became Janesville's first city manager and held the position for almost 28 years.
Janesville's council-manager government is one of the oldest of its type in the country. It features a professional administrator to carry out council policies. Efforts to return to a mayor-led form of government have failed. In 1970, there was a challenge but it failed 7,447-3,272, a 2-1 margin. Janesville's population in 1923 was 19,444; today, it is approximately 63,000.
Traxler shaped Janesville's extensive park system. During his tenure, he helped modernize Janesville's school system, centralized government services, modernized the police and fire systems, and increased the miles of paved streets from 22 to 84. Traxler, a Milwaukee native, had a civil engineering degree from UW-Madison.
He previously worked in Los Angeles and Centerville, Iowa, and in 1918, Traxler focused on public administration and became city manager of Clarinda, Iowa. Traxler was selected from a list of 74 applicants to be Janesville's manager.
Parks developed during Traxler's tenure include Palmer, Monterey, Jeffris, Lions Beach and Goose Island, which now bears Traxler's name. Joseph A. Craig was a driving force behind the city manager system of government. Traxler retired in 1951, and he and wife Edith moved to California to be near their two children. He died in 1951 at age 64.
LEON K. FREEBURG