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At first Walker cabinet meeting, hometown pride reigns

Stephanie Klett wins by a chili can.

Gather about 20 of the most powerful people in the state of Wisconsin together, and there’s bound to be some one-upmanship.

That was the case Tuesday during Gov. Scott Walker’s first cabinet meeting. The governor began the meeting by saying he wanted to capture a metaphoric portrait of the gathering, and asked everyone in the room to introduce themselves.

Dave Ross, the mayor of Superior until noon Monday and now the secretary of the state Department of Regulation and Licensing, was the first person who couldn’t resist injecting a little hometown pride into the introduction.

“I hail from beautiful Northwest Wisconsin,” Ross said.

Sensing a challenge, Peter Bildsten, chairman and CEO of First National Bank and Trust Co. of Baraboo, introduced himself as secretary of the Department of Financial Institutions by saying he’s from “the even more beautiful Baraboo, Wis.”

With the most beautiful destination in Wisconsin sealed, the most fabulous remained up for grabs. Paul Jadin, the new secretary of the Department of Commerce, swiftly grabbed that trophy, saying of Green Bay, “I come from the most fabulous city of the state – if not the country.”

“How do I top that?” asked Cathy Stepp, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.

Stepp didn’t top it, but she did declare her town, Yorkville, the “fun region of the state.”

So, Walker’s cabinet secretaries – in their very first meeting – determined the most beautiful, fabulous and fun areas of Wisconsin.

Anything left?

Well, just one thing.

“My hometown is Beloit, home to the world’s largest can of chili,” said Stephanie Klett, host of the Discover Wisconsin television and radio series, and new secretary of the Department of Tourism.

Ding-ding-ding. Give her the championship belt.

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