Five face off for three seats on Edgerton City Council
EDGERTON Five candidates are vying for three aldermanic seats on the Edgerton City Council.
District 3 incumbent Mark Wellnitz seeks re-election for a second term and is running against newcomer Brennon Ruosch.
District 2 incumbent Matt McIntyre is running for a two-year seat against newcomer Candy Davis. McIntyre also is running for the city's other District 2 seat, a one-year seat, against incumbent Dave Thomas.
The city council appointed Thomas in April 2010 to serve the first year of a two-year District 2 term held by Chris Lund. Lund vacated the seat after he was elected mayor last year.
If McIntyre wins both District 2 seats, he must choose which seat he'll fill. The city council later would fill the remaining open seat by appointment.
District 1 incumbent Andrea Egerstaffer is running for re-election unopposed.
The candidates responded to questions about their goals and how to bring commerce and industry to the city, while considering how the city could save money during a time of statewide economic uncertainty.
Goals for the city
Q: Why are you running for the city council, and what are your major goals if you are elected?
Davis: "We've got a nice little downtown but very minimal when it comes to businesses. I'd like to see the downtown area thrive and become more viable and attractive for new businesses. Small communities like Cambridge and Stoughton have developed specialty shopping for gifts and crafts and small restaurants. When people are looking for a gift, more times than not, they'll drive to Janesville. If we can have specialty shopping at our fingertips, we could keep some of our own money right here."
McIntyre: "Being on the council, my goal always is to bring the community together. You talk to people at the gas station, church, the grocery store, and you learn what's on their minds. It's rewarding to bring those ideas back to the council, and hone them through our (city) subcommittees, where all the heavy work happens. It's great to see those citizen ideas transform and turn the city into a better place to live."
Thomas: "Through the (one-year term) council appointment, I've found that I enjoyed serving for fellow citizens alongside the other alderpeople. Although we're having some tight times money-wise, I'd like to see some headway being made on a senior center—nothing sparkling new but something more and different than they (seniors) have now. We could find a vacant building somewhere in town that's easy to get to and nice and handy."
Ruosch: "I want to get more involved with the city, and with the council I feel I can take an in-depth, hands-on approach. Business and job creation are what I believe are most important. I'd like to do whatever I could to try to facilitate bringing more jobs in."
Wellnitz: "I've acquired knowledge of how the city works over the last few years. Just because you've got an election coming up doesn't mean you're through working on things you've been working towards before. One thing I want to do is make public contracts more available for smaller local businesses to get the work. For example, I asked the finance committee to put downtown local floral work out to bids and split up the work into several different categories. That was to save the city money."
Bringing in business
Q: What do you think could be done to lure commerce and industry to Edgerton?
Davis: "I'd like to see the city talk to existing local businesses that are pretty successful and do some networking to find out what's working with them—or what's not working with them. If we can really listen to what they have to say, that's going to help with planning and looking forward. Everybody thinks they have the answer, but you don't know what you don't know, at least not until you ask."
McIntyre: "When businesses come knocking, you need to have plans and economic tools in place. During this economic time, there is fierce competition between communities. It takes following up on leads you've developed for each of your business and industrial areas in the city. You have to be proactive and knock on doors instead of always waiting for businesses to come knocking.
Thomas: "You've got to know how to sell the small-town atmosphere—friendly people for the most part, amenities like rail service and a location next to the Interstate. We're suited to fit large and small businesses that need rail or truck services. It's important as a member on the council to be a super good salesman about the benefits Edgerton has to offer."
Ruosch: "I think the city could do more to advertise to lure businesses and industry in. We need to be proactive and actually speak with businesses. For businesses who are looking to move into available spaces, if we help them out with the incentive to renovate or retrofit buildings, that would be a big help."
Wellnitz: "One way or another you have to work to make Edgerton more appealing to businesses and industry who want (to locate) in the community. Every business has their own needs and wants. If a business is interested in moving into town, you try to give them the best deal you can as far as meeting their needs."
Q: The state looks to cut shared revenue to municipalities and has pending legislation that could impact the ability of municipalities to increase taxes. It's unclear what funding shortfall the city could see over the next year, although city estimates suggest state cuts could impact a broad spectrum of city services and plans. Where would you look to save the city money?
Davis: "In times like this, you have to look at where the money is spent. For the city, is work being done by the right contractors? It's really looking at costs and the services you get instead of just saying, ‘We've used this firm for the past 15 or 30 years.' It's got to be who is going to give you the best service for the lowest amount of money."
McIntyre: "Our strategy has been to plan one major street project a year in a cost range typically of $100,000 to $300,000. We could possibly look at delaying one of those projects. We also could look at cutting back on professional services on some planning issues."
Thomas: "It may come down to everybody (city employees) taking a pay cut, from the top banana all the way down the guy at the end of the parade with the broom. We're going to have to tighten up on all services, too, and really squeeze anything that we can. It's going to be tough."
Ruosch: "Unfortunately, it's become the popular saying that everybody has to do more with less. Right now, it would be in the council's best interest to ask citizens for their input and their thoughts. You can't keep everybody happy, but you can get a good idea of what people want by letting them share ideas. One thing that would help out is if the city departments could put annual equipment replacement needs on a rotation basis. It would be a good way to plan ahead and to work with the funds you've got available."
Wellnitz: "I'd like to start our budget earlier in the early part of the year, right away. If there is some big budget cuts, it is worthwhile to start early in the process. We'll need the whole council and staff along with the community to really put their heads together and come up with solutions. There are some things, like we've had $16,000 worth of hanging flower baskets downtown. That was 1 percent of the levy increase last year. Things like that maybe have to go."
Address: 434 Fairfield Circle, Edgerton.
Job: Operations manager, CUNA Mutual Group, Madison.
Education: Graduate of Stoughton High School, 1973.
Community service: Emergency medical technician, Edgerton; Partners for Prevention, Edgerton; local team captain of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 2003-2008.
Elected posts: None
Matt McIntyre (I)
Address: 3 Mechanic St., Edgerton.
Education: Graduate of Edgerton High School; attended Blackhawk Technical College, UW-Whitewater and Oklahoma City Technical College.
Community service: Former member of Jaycees; census committee; veterans memorial building committee.
Elected posts: Served as Edgerton mayor, Edgerton city alderman for the last two decades.
Address: 621 E. Fulton St., Edgerton.
Job: Fulltime firefighter/EMT, Edgerton Fire Department.
Education: Attended Blackhawk Technical College and UW-Whitewater for fire service/criminal justice coursework.
Community service: Volunteer firefighter, EMS.
Elected posts: None
David Thomas (I)
Address: 816 W. Fulton St., Edgerton.
Job: School bus driver, Burns Bus, Edgerton.
Education: Graduate of Auburndale High School, 1954.
Community service: Edgerton Conservation Club; city committees including: zoning board of appeals; utility commission; parks and recreation committee; planning commission; economic development corporation; personnel committee; library board.
Elected posts: Serving a one-year, appointed term on the Edgerton City Council.
Mark Wellnitz (I)
Address: 4 1/2 N. Catlin St., Edgerton.
Job: Commercial licensed carpenter and welder.
Education: Graduate of Edgerton High School, 1992; apprenticeship and certification for commercial carpentry, Madison Area Technical College, 2008.
Community service: City parks and recreation board, public safety committee; Edgerton Board of Health chairman, Edgerton Historical Preservation Commission.
Elected posts: One-term incumbent, Edgerton City Council.