Six candidates seek four Janesville City Council spots

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Marcia Nelesen
Thursday, January 3, 2013

— Six candidates are seeking one of four open seats on the Janesville City Council.

The election is Tuesday, April 2.

Two incumbentsóRuss Steeber and Deb Dongarra-Adamsówill not seek re-election.

Two residents who took out nomination papersóKen Cass and Sarah Carteródecided against seeking public office.

Incumbents DuWayne Severson, who filled George Brunner's remaining term after he resigned, and Sam Liebert will seek two-year terms.

Newcomers are Julie Broda, Doug Marklein, Brian Fitzgerald and Jerry Smythe.

All candidates had turned in nominating petitions as required by the end of the day Wednesday. Fitzgerald, though, had turned them in too late to be certified by the end of the workday.

The candidates are:

-- Julie Broda, 41, of 2719 Black Bridge Road. She is an administrative manager for United Capital Independent Wealth Counseling in Rockford, Ill. She graduated from Greendale High School and the University of Texas in Arlington. She has not previously sought public office.

Broda said she has "fallen in love with this city. ... I'm ready to give back to the city by serving."

Broda believes she can help the council because of her experience working in the financial world.

Broda said she would pay attention to the budget and last year's use of reserves. She did not have access to service level reviews, so she didn't know whether the use was justified.

She also said she would stress economic development.

If the city brings in business, even if it must use incentives, that puts people to work, Broda said. If businesses put people to work, the people spend money and increase revenues for the city.

-- Brian Fitzgerald, 59, of 4226 Huntinghorn Drive. Fitzgerald is a Craig High graduate and has a business degree from Regis University in Denver. He retired after spending most of his career in cable TV. He has not previously sought public office.

Fitzgerald said he is running because he wants to focus on bringing jobs to the area.

"Our economy is driven by consumer spending, and when people aren't working, obviously they don't have the money to spend," Fitzgerald said. "Because of the loss of GM, we're in worse shape than most cities.

"I just think we need to focus more on (economic development) than maybe some of the other issues," he said.

Fitzgerald said the city can't continue its borrowing.

"I think we need to spend less and live within our means. Unlike the federal government, we can't print money."

Fitzgerald was born and raised in Janesville. He said he knows the people who live here and the city's business climate.

"It's a great place to live, a great place to grow up," he said. "I just want to make sure we keep it that way."

-- Sam Liebert, 27, of 2621 Mount Zion Ave. Liebert graduated from Parker High in 2003 and is a full-time student at American Public University System. He works part time for Diamond Security.

He served one two-year term on the council and said he is running for re-election because much remains to be done. He said he has matured in office.

It's one thing to run for office to say what you want to do, but the realities are a lot different, Liebert said.

"You can't always get what you want," he said. "I've definitely learned to compromise and enjoy working with people even though we may not agree on every issue."

One of his goals is bringing skilled, high-paying jobs to Janesville.

-- Douglas Marklein, 56, of 3919 Dorchester Drive. Marklein graduated from Craig High and UW-Madison with a bachelor's degree in construction administration and an emphasis in real estate.

Marklein said he has volunteered for the city by serving on both the zoning board of appeals and the plan commission.

He promised to bring common sense to the council and act in a nonpartisan manner.

Marklein said he isn't running on any one issue and doesn't want to make major changes.

"We just have to get qualified people to Ö help manage the city," he said.

Marklein said his goal is to keep the city moving forward during difficult financial times.

"I think I have some things to offer from (my) experience in Marklein Builders and my living in Janesville all my life," he said.

-- DuWayne Severson, 55, of 56 S. Martin Road, has served one year on the city council, finishing the term of a former council member. He also served on the Janesville School Board.

He graduated from UW-Madison with a business administration degree. He is director of contracting for Mercy Health System.

Severson said the city budget remains his main concern. One reason he did not vote for the 2013 budget was its use of almost $1 million in reserves.

"I want to continue to work towards a more balanced budget," Severson said. "I believe we need to address meeting the needs of the city without taking funds from the reserves."

Severson said the council didn't push the administration hard enough to find other ways to meet city needs.

"I didn't run on that, and I don't believe in that," he said.

"For whatever reason, the majority of the board did not want to tackle the hard work now. ... The leadership of the council wanted to just kick this down the road again, and I don't think that's appropriate."

-- Jerry Smythe, 60, of 819 Garfield Ave. He graduated from Craig High and has an associate's degree in liberal arts from UW-Rock County. He retired from GM in 2002.

He is running because he has been interested in politics but never had time to get involved.

He said he began paying more attention when the tea party came on the scene.

"I think we pay plenty in taxes, and there are ways of budgeting our money and keeping a wonderful community without breaking the budget," he said.

"You talk about things like the fire department and the police department and their budgets, and I'm sure that there are things within those budgets that could be addressed, but I'd hate to throw out specifics right now because I have so much more to learn," Smythe said. "That's where the bulk of our money is going, so there's got to be places to save."

He questions other areas, too, such as the city's water rates. The city's water usage dropped when GM left, but its water-rate structure encourages conservation, he said.

"There's no water shortage here, and that just doesn't make a lot of sense," he said.

Last updated: 8:06 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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