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Nine candidates return papers to run for Janesville City Council

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
January 4, 2012
— Nine residents have completed and returned nomination papers to seek one of four open seats on the Janesville City Council.

Staff checked the signatures on the papers of eight of the candidates and granted them ballot status for the April 3 election.


Those seeking election are: Jim Farrell, Matthew Kealy, Billy McCoy, Andy Murray, DuWayne Severson, Angela Smillie, Michael Southers and Kathy Voskuil.


Troy Zimdars, 42, of 708 N. Wuthering Hills Drive, returned his papers shortly before Tuesday's deadline, and staff must verify his signatures to grant him ballot status. He could not be reached for comment.


Three of the four open seats are two-year terms. Former President George Brunner recently resigned from the council, and the fourth-highest vote-getter would fill the one year remaining in his term.


Only one incumbent, Kathy Voskuil, is seeking re-election. Council members Tom McDonald and Yuri Rashkin are not seeking re-election.


-- Farrell, 65, of 1427 N. Harmony Drive, is a retired accountant. He was most recently employed as controller at Orchid Monroe and recently completed a class in government accounting.


"My vast experience in … financial management and resource allocation would be a definite benefit to the city council," Farrell said. "I know how to ask the critical questions that should be asked concerning many issues that we in Janesville are facing.


"I am very optimistic about the future of the city, but we must maintain the level of the city services that we have for all of our city residents," he said. "We must make sure our tax dollars are spent in an optimum way, and we must find realistic and innovative ways to bring jobs and industry to Janesville and make sure our work force has the best training possible to do these jobs."


-- Matthew Kealy, 29, of 1203 Winchester Place, owns three restaurants and employs 37 people in Janesville. He said he would represent all views, including the small businessperson's view, on the council.


He pointed to a recent 21 percent increase in water rates and said that will dramatically impact all businesses.


Jobs—attracting and growing business—are his top priority, he said. His goal is to hold taxes without impacting essential city services.


Personnel costs are the vast majority of the city budget, and increases in wages and benefits impact taxes, he said.


"Until the city employees contribute to their health and pensions, we're going to be in a tough spot," he said.


Some city employees began contributing to their pensions in August. Firefighters and police officers do not.


-- Billy R. McCoy, 58, of 1326 Putnam Ave., said he is running because he's "had enough."


"People like me on fixed incomes have to budget our money with what little we get," said McCoy, who is retired on disability from General Motors.


He cited recent increases he disagrees with: a $10 wheel tax, a $40 fee for garbage pickup, the 21 percent increase in water rates. He doesn't believe in a seven-year sidewalk program that forces some residents to build sidewalks and does not believe the city should be in the real estate business, noting a recent $1.5 million land purchase for a possible business.


McCoy also said he would not renovate the riverfront. He said he continues to look into the recent citywide valuation.


People can't afford to keep paying more money, he said.


"Enough is enough."


-- Andy Murray, 32, of 2211 Browning Drive, works in sales at Data Dimensions, Janesville. He said he is running because he is committed to Janesville.


"I was born and raised in town, and I want my family to have the same things that I have," he said.


Job creation is a major priority, Murray said. He said another goal is supporting and protecting public safety and making sure police and firefighters have the proper tools to do their jobs effectively.


He said it is important to maintain a level of satisfaction among taxpayers on such basic services as roads. He said the city should look at creative ways to use current staff so jobs are not cut, possibly by reallocating time and resources to other areas.


He also would look for ways to generate revenue other than taxes, he said.


-- DuWayne Severson, 54, of 56 S. Martin Road, is finishing his third three-year term on the Janesville School Board. He said he is running to serve the community and described himself as a fiscal conservative.


Severson said he is concerned about the direction the council is going. As an example, the council enacted a $10 wheel tax the same night it gave bonuses to city workers. The city used money it saved when employees began paying portions of their retirement benefits.


"I think the two combined sent a wrong signal to hurting taxpayers in the community," Severson said.


The council must identify efficiencies and savings so people can maintain their homes and get jobs, he said.


-- Michael Southers, 40, of 1841 S. Chatham St., is a computer support specialist for Rock County. He said he wants to serve the community and that he has a common-sense attitude.


Southers said Janesville is on the upturn, and he said he'd like his kids to be able to look back and know their dad was part of the rebuilding process.


"I'd like to leave it (Janesville) in a better place," he said.


For instance, he said he'd love to see GM reopen, and he'd like to see the new St. Mary's Janesville Hospital act as an anchor for other surrounding development, such as motels and restaurants. But he said he would closely watch incentive packages so the city gets guaranteed returns.


-- Angela Smillie, 31, of 921 N. Garfield Ave., said she is running to help and serve others. She wants to provide local services in the most affordable manner and maintain the quality of life here.


Smillie said she doesn't have any priorities because every issue is a priority for somebody. She would listen to residents, she said.


"It's about, what do the citizens want?"


Budget cuts are inevitable, and Smillie hopes to focus on them together as a community, getting as many people involved when decisions are made.


Her goal is to minimize sacrifices and maximize prosperity, she said.


-- Kathy Voskuil, 52, of 3417 Amhurst Road, works in sales for Pfizer. She is completing her second two-year term on the council, and she also serves on the plan commission.


Voskuil said she is running to continue service to the community, and so that she can continue to advocate for those who earn lower incomes.


Voskuil's priorities include economic development, blight elimination and redevelopment of the downtown. Her goal is to keep taxes at their current levels.


The city also should continue moving toward transparency in government, she said.


-- Troy Zimdars, 42, of 708 N. Wuthering Hills Drive, could not be reached.



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