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Candidates catch their breaths, prepare for April election

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
February 20, 2008
— The top vote-getters in the Janesville City Council primary Tuesday said they look forward to getting their views out now that the field is whittled to six.

Eleven candidates were vying for three open seats, and no incumbents sought re-election. In a rare move, the council scheduled Tuesday’s primary, which cost little because it piggybacked on the presidential primary.


Tom McDonald, 27, one of the younger candidates to run for council, ran strong all night and ended as the top vote-getter with 5,777.


Kathy Voskuil, Kevin Bishop and Kelly O’Brien also had big numbers, ending with 5,036, 4,769 and 4,584, respectively.


The remaining seven candidates battled it out for the last two spots.


Yuri Rashkin came in fifth with 3,139 and George Mark sixth with 2,959.


The Rock County Courthouse was crowded Tuesday night, with many of the 11 candidates, families, friends and observers gathered to watch the returns.


McDonald’s strong showing was a surprise given his youth.


He didn’t want to speculate on why he came in first, but he said voters made informed decisions.


He looks forward to campaigning and bringing his message to the people.


McDonald said he isn’t running on a single issue.


“I’m running with an open mind and fresh perspective,” he said.


Voskuil attributed her showing to several factors, including the large number of people who voted in the primary.


She was grateful that many people could share her vision for Janesville through forums offered by the League of Women Voters and Forward Janesville.


The now smaller field will allow service organizations and clubs to get information to their members, Voskuil said.


“The campaign starts tomorrow,” she said.


Bishop likely was helped by endorsements from union people, including Rep. Mike Sheridan, who also is president of UAW Local 95.


He attributed his win to “a lot of hard work from some very good friends. It’s nice to have them on my side.”


Bishop said he knows he has a lot of work to do before April and is looking forward to the weather warming so he can get out and talk to more people. He said he is especially looking forward to listening to residents’ concerns.


O’Brien’s strong showing was a surprise because she ran a low-key campaign.


O’Brien said she was ecstatic with her showing.


She said she thinks people voted for her because she is “real. I’m just a real person.”


O’Brien admitted her lack of knowledge on running a campaign and government in general.


“Honestly, I said way back in the beginning, a lot of my friends didn’t pay attention to the government of Janesville, the government of anything,” she said.


“To me, (running was a) win-win situation.”


Now, all of her friends are reading the paper, paying attention and voting, she said.


O’Brien said she has a lot of work to do before April, but she has a lot of ideas.


“I wanted to make sure that people wanted to hear what I wanted to say,” she said.


“No matter what, it’s been great. It’s been a learning experience.”


Rashkin said he is grateful to be in the top six but sees he has work to do to get into the top three.


“It’s a motivation to get out there and work harder,” he said.


Rashkin said his fresh perspective and diverse experience might have been assets. Rashkin was born in Russia, is a musician and also owns his own mortgage business.


Mark, who came in sixth, could not be reached Tuesday night.


Click here for full election results

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