Janesville City Council’s four incumbents comfortably won re-election Tuesday night, but the fifth-place finisher still has a chance to earn a seat.
Sue Conley, Jim Farrell, Doug Marklein and Tom Wolfe will serve another two years on the council, with each earning at least 5,700 votes. Jan Chesmore, a political newbie, finished more than 1,300 votes behind fourth place.
Whether Chesmore’s tally is enough to earn an appointment to the council remains uncertain.
Last week, Jens Jorgensen announced he was resigning from the council to take a job in Fond du Lac. Marklein, the current council president, suggested at the time that if the last-place finisher was close enough to the four winners, that person could be the favorite to replace Jorgensen.
Marklein said Tuesday night the council would discuss the next steps to fill the remaining year of Jorgensen’s term at its Monday meeting.
All four incumbents praised the work of their fellow council members. Tuesday’s results showed residents approved of Janesville’s current direction, they said.
“I think what it is is an approval of our citizens of the job the council in total has done for our city,” Farrell said. “I look at it as being a stamp of approval of the work we’ve done the past two years as a unit.”
Marklein said this council works well together because members have different areas of expertise. He was confident the council would continue to be productive and would be capable of facing any unexpected challenges.
The other three winners all mentioned the city’s ongoing housing shortage as one of the council’s top priorities. New jobs are arriving in Janesville, and in a city where rentals and single-family homes are scarce, housing construction is a must for those incoming employees, they said.
Conley added that the city needed to address homelessness—an issue she saw as related to but separate from the housing shortage—and continue positive momentum in the downtown ARISE project.
Farrell said a sustainable program for street maintenance was a big priority.
Wolfe said Janesville has a thoughtful council that functions effectively as a collective rather than a group of individual personalities.
“Not too many years ago, council members were making headlines. That hasn’t happened the past couple years. Issues make headlines,” Wolfe said. “When council members make headlines, there’s dysfunction, as far as I’m concerned.
“People see that and give us credit for that.”