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Madison - Mayor Dave Cieslewicz announced today that longtime civic leader Dick Wagner has been selected as the first recipient of the newly created Jeffrey Clay Erlanger Civility in Public Discourse Award. The award was created by the Mayor and Common Council to honor the example of civility in public service set by Jeff Erlanger who passed away earlier this year. Nominations were reviewed and a winner selected by a committee that included a representative of the Erlanger family.

"Dick Wagner exemplifies the spirit of service to the community and civility that was shown by Jeff Erlanger," said Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. "Throughout his decades of service to the community, Dick has shown grace, diplomacy and tact at every turn. Supporters and opponents alike have always known Dick to be a civil, honest and fair-minded leader. I am very pleased to see Dick recognized as the first recipient of the Erlanger Award."

Dick Wagner's service to the community spans nearly four decades, stretching back to his work in the early 1970's to create the Period Garden Park in downtown Madison. He served as a member of the Dane County Board of Supervisors for fourteen years, including service as County Board Chair. He has also served on countless other committees, and played a major role in advancing civic projects such as Monona Terrace and Olbrich Gardens. Although technically "retired" now, Dick continues to serve the community through his work on the Urban Design Commission and Transport 2020.

"I don't think that Dick Wagner and Jeff ever crossed paths, but I am quite sure they would have loved working together," said Pam Erlanger, a member of the selection committee and Jeff's mother. "Dick Wagner's passion for public policy combined with his civic values make him a perfect choice for this award."

The Erlanger Award is an annual recognition, to be awarded at the Common Council meeting that falls closest to Jeff Erlanger's birthday of November 30. This year it will be awarded at the December 4 meeting.

Wagner was nominated by Sally Miley, Anne Monks, Henry Lufler, Lynne Watrous Eich and Nancy Ragland (nomination submissions are available upon request). Other nominees for this year's award were former Ald. Judy K. Olson; former Ald. Warren Onken; Alice Fike; and the late former Mayor Otto Festge. The Mayor encouraged the selection committee to consider the other nominees in future years.


  • George Twigg, (608) 266-4611