Newcomers earn Janesville City Council seats
Partisan politics may have had a hand in removing an incumbent from the Janesville City Council in Tuesday’s election, something that does not happen often.
Newcomers Deb Dongarra-Adams and Sam Liebert made impressive showings at the polls, and incumbents George Brunner and Russ Steeber won additional two-year terms.
Incumbent Bill Truman did not seek re-election.
Frank Perrotto lost in his bid for a second term, just days after he and fellow council member Yuri Rashkin got into a public argument after Rashkin walked out on Gov. Scott Walker’s speech at Forward Janesville’s annual banquet. Rashkin instead joined those outside who were protesting Walker’s proposed cuts in collective bargaining rights for public employees.
Perrotto the next day fired off a disapproving email. Rashkin threatened to post the email on his blog if Perrotto didn’t apologize. Perrotto didn’t, and Rashkin did. The exchange was also forwarded to teachers union members, and Rashkin noted on his blog that Perrotto was up for re-election.
Perrotto on Tuesday blamed Rashkin and his union followers. Perrotto said Rashkin has a vendetta against him and also has an anti-business agenda.
“There’s no doubt the union came out,” Perrotto said. “The union won tonight. This is a clear message.”
Rashkin said Perrotto “did it to himself. This was in the people’s hands, and people made the choice. People became educated, and people voted.”
Liebert, too, said that Madison politics might have had a hand in his win. Liebert made no secret of his support for the Democrats and their fight against Walker’s proposal to restrict public employee rights. He, too, said the spat between Rashkin and Perrotto influenced the election.
“I didn’t think I’d knock off an incumbent,” Liebert said.
Dongarra-Adams, the top vote-getter, said she was still in shock Tuesday night and thanked the community for putting its trust in her.
Looking forward, she said the council will have to decide the city’s priorities while writing the 2012 budget.
“I hope the community stays very involved in this and pays attention,” she said. “Their input is going to be the most important.”
Steeber, Brunner and Liebert said economic growth and jobs are the most important issues facing the city.
Steeber and Brunner said the city might have to look for different ways to reach the public to find out what is important to residents as the council makes budget decisions and possibly cuts services.
Brunner and Steeber pointed to a budget scorecard that was implemented last year and said something similar will likely be used this year. Listening sessions also could be scheduled.
Brunner said it is critical to maintain essential services.
“It’s going to be extremely important that we listen to the city, and we try to get input as far as the services that the citizens feel are the most important,” Brunner said.
Liebert also said he would like to see the ice arena be renovated and a skatepark built.