Steeber won't seek re-election
JANESVILLE After serving 10 of the last dozen years on the Janesville City Council, Russ Steeber will not seek another term in April.
Steeber said he has enjoyed his time on the council and believes he still could serve the city, but his aging parents need his help.
Steeber said he is making the announcement with a "heavy heart," adding he would consider running for council again if circumstances change.
Steeber's tenure saw the city at its extremes—during times of growth, then the closing of the GM plant and since then the ongoing recovery from the "devastating recession."
"I really remember the day getting the phone call that they were having a press conference (about GM) that day … and how sad and down everything felt," Steeber said. "And the year or so after that—how the city just felt kind of blah.
"But what's really been great is seeing the bright spots, like SHINE (Medical Technologies) and some of the other manufacturing we brought in since that time.
"The city isn't dead," Steeber said. "It's vibrant. It's growing. The best days are ahead of us."
Steeber said major decisions during his tenure include:
-- Being a member of one of the first councils in the state to pass a smoking ban.
-- Changing Jackson and Franklin streets from one-way to two-way streets.
-- Being involved in building facilities as the police department and the downtown parking ramp.
-- Putting a priority on economic development and poverty initiatives.
Over that time, Steeber has become a strong advocate of a safe sidewalk system, an issue that has become one of the city's most controversial. Steeber is serving on a task force to re-examine a seven-year sidewalk plan he helped approve in 2008.
Steeber hopes the latest round of sidewalk controversy will be solved by the time he leaves in April.
He lauded city staff for being hardworking, professional and willing to give extra effort with fewer resources.
He said every council and committee member he has served with—all volunteers—has had one thing in mind: making the city better.
Steeber hopes a new council doesn't equate every issue to "dollars and cents" and knows that even if something costs tax dollars, it might be the right thing to do.
"Unfortunately, we have gotten so worried about finances on a national level that, on a local level, we're scared to take and invest in ourselves," Steeber said.
"It's not always about the buck."
Two more take out council candidate papers
Two more Janesville residents are circulating nomination papers for, bringing to five the number of candidates for four open Janesville City Council seats.
The most recent candidates are:
-- Sarah Carter, 32, of 450 N. Terrace St., who listed her occupation as a homemaker. She has not sought public office before.
-- Incumbent Sam Liebert, 27, of 2621 Mount Zion Ave. He did not list an occupation on his declaration of candidacy. Liebert is seeking a second term on the council.
They join incumbent DuWayne Severson and newcomers Brian Fitzgerald and Jerry Smythe.
Incumbent Deb Dongarra-Adams could not be reached to comment about whether she will seek re-election. Incumbent Russ Steeber announced Monday he will not run.
Liebert said Janesville has been hit hard by the recent recession, and he said he has worked to bring skilled jobs here.
"More people are going to work, receiving paychecks and joining the middle class," he said. "More businesses are investing in our future, and Janesville is beginning to look alive once more."
Liebert said he is running because he believes the council can accomplish more.
Potential candidates can pick up nomination forms from the city clerk's office at City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St. They must gather not fewer than 200 but not more than 400 signatures and return the papers by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2.