Three candidates are vying for two seats on Fort City Council in Tuesday’s election | Fort Atkinson
Three candidates are running for two open seats on the Fort Atkinson City Council in Tuesday’s spring election.
They are Bruce Johnson, of 42 E. Rockwell Ave.; and challengers Ron Martin, 409 Nadig Drive, and Eric Schultz, 365 Ramesh Ave., all of Fort Atkinson.
Incumbent Brandon Housley is not running for re-election. Johnson is seeking his third two-year term.
The first two voters will win seats on the five-member council.
The Daily Union contacted the three candidates, asking for some remarks on their background and experience, the reasons for their running for a seat on the council and the main issues facing the city that they would like to address if elected. .
Schultz, however, did not submit remarks before press time.
Bruce JohnsonA native of Fort Atkinson, Bruce Johnson was born, raised and educated in the city, where he lives and works.
“I’m very passionate about the city of Fort Atkinson,” Johnson said. “I hope to be remembered as a good person who changed the city in a positive way. I think the best place I can do that is on the city council.
Becoming a city councilor, he said, includes a learning curve in the process.
“How things work, why things work, and how to be effective in getting things done,” Johnson said.
As an incumbent, he said he walked through that learning curve and learned the process.
“My record shows that I work well with other council members and the city,” Johnson said. “I believe I’ve been an effective team player in accomplishing my goal of helping the city make good decisions and do good things. I look forward to continuing to do more of the same.
The city’s future, he said, depends on increasing the tax base.
“Increasing this levy will help mitigate the ever-increasing cost of living in our society,” Johnson said. “Broadening the tax base will help make it more affordable for everyone. This is accomplished by promoting new accommodations and businesses here at Ft.
He said the city hasn’t built many new homes in recent years.
“It’s not due to a lack of desire, but a lack of available land to build on,” Johnson said. “The Banker Road housing project will bring 75 acres of available land on which to build.”
The council member said the city council and city manager are very active in finding developers interested in creating new housing for the city.
“That was accomplished during my time on the board and it’s one of the things I’m very proud to say, ‘I was involved and I helped out,’” Johnson said.
Fort Atkinson, he said, must also promote business not just in Klement Business Park, but in all downtown areas and other places of business.
“I’m a local businessman, so being pro-business comes very naturally to me,” Johnson said. “To achieve this, I intend to promote the idea that Fort Atkinson should consider establishing an economic development position whose sole responsibility would be to find and promote the growth of businesses here in our city.”
The candidate said he believed his most positive achievement during his time on council helped select Rebecca Houseman-LeMire as the new city manager.
“I was a cheerleader picking her off,” Johnson said. “I believe the wisdom and intelligence of my fellow council members in his selection hit the nail on the head for the city. She is a unifier and leader whose amazing ability to get the job done will help bring a bright future to the city of Fort. I am very proud to participate in this choice.
Holder also said he believes he helped Fort Atkinson evolve into a more wonderful place to grow up and raise a family.
“From the bike paths to the river boardwalk, the skatepark, the aquatic center, the park system, the civic festivals…Where I could, I voted them up and supported them,” Johnson said. “I think I helped make the difference. I would appreciate your vote. I intend to do my best to be worth it.
Newcomer Ron Martin said he and his wife, Beth, have lived in Fort Atkinson for nearly 30 years, where they raised a family and adopted the town as their hometown.
“I’m running for city council because we need fresh ideas to solve the pressing problems facing the city,” Martin said.
Its priorities include economic development, fiscal responsibility and public safety at a reasonable cost.
“Fort Atkinson has lost major industries and retailers over the years: Kmart, Shopko, McCain Foods, Lorman Metals, J-Star, Badger Press, and the list goes on,” Martin said. “Little has been done to replace them.”
The Klement Business Park, which opened in 2001, is still mostly empty and in need of development, he said.
“It seems like a good location, next to the State Highway 26 bypass and 20 minutes up the freeway to Janesville,” Martin said. “The last lot was sold in 2020, and city staff are still working with the owner to determine the next steps for this development. The city still has more than $1.6 million in debt on the books for this tax increment district. I believe we need a new plan to attract business to this area, and Fort Atkinson in general, or else sell the land for any development that would put it back on the tax rolls.
The candidate said the city could also do more to attract and retain small businesses.
“The recently announced Jefferson County Revolving Loan Fund is a step in the right direction, and I hope the program encourages more businesses to invest in Fort,” Martin said.
On public safety, he said: ‘Let me be very clear: I strongly support police, fire and emergency service personnel. They have a dangerous job to do, and they do it very well.
“Having said that, I don’t agree with the public safety referendum as it currently stands in the April 5 ballot,” Martin said. “I believe we can provide these services in a way that will not result in an almost 10% increase in our taxes this year and every year thereafter. And these costs will only continue to increase in the future.
As for rising costs, he said, the United States is in the early stages of record inflation.
“Bloomberg News just reported that the average US household will need to spend $5,200 more this year than last year on the same consumer basket,” Martin said. “That’s $433 a month, what Bloomberg calls a ‘tax on inflation’. We should be looking to lower taxes, not raise them.”
The candidate said the “timing was not right” for the city’s public safety referendum on Tuesday.
“We also need to look at improving efficiency and reducing borrowing,” Martin said. “City council just approved an additional $2.275 million in one-year borrowing, in anticipation of longer-term borrowing next year, when interest rates are likely to be higher.”
That might be prudent planning in the short term, he said, but in the longer term the city should be looking at ways to reduce its borrowing.
“About one-third of that — $767,000 — is earmarked for annual street construction and water main replacement projects,” Martin said. “We’re told that all revenue from the $20 wheel tax (annual) goes towards rebuilding the streets, so why is the extra borrowing necessary?” Why do so many streets constantly seem to need repairs? »
He said he grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, where he learned the values of hard work, honesty and integrity from his parents.
“I spent over 35 years in the private sector, first in radio and then in marketing and related businesses in Chicago, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Madison and Jefferson,” Martin said. “In my corporate experience, I have learned to balance budgets and work efficiently for the benefit of all.
“I want to serve as an advocate for the taxpayers and the people I’ve spoken to who aren’t being listened to now,” he added. “I say what I think, not just what I think people want to hear. I want to bring some common sense back to the Fort city government.
Martin said everyone wants Fort Atkinson to be a great place to live, work and raise a family.
“By voting for me, Ron Martin, on April 5, you can help ensure a bright future for Fort Atkinson,” he said.