Voters in the City of Fitchburg’s 1st aldermanic district will see a new face on the Common Council regardless of whom they vote for in April.
Newcomers Dave Herbst and Joe Maldonado will vie for the District 1, Seat 2 spot on April 7. Ald. Anne Scott, the incumbent, is not on the ballot. She told the Star last year she was not planning to run for re-election.
This will be Fitchburg’s first election in which only half of the Common Council seats are up for re-election at a time. The seats up for re-election this year all were 1-year terms granted in 2019. Winners all will have two-year terms beginning in April.
District 4 covers the northwestern corner of Fitchburg, north of McKee Road and west of Seminole Highway, with much of it urban with apartments and single-family homes.
Maldonado and Herbst both told the Star they are deeply invested in Fitchburg, and equity in services and city budgeting are among the main concerns they said they share for their district.
The Fitchburg Star interviewed both candidates, listed below in alphabetical order, for the seat this month and had them fill out questionnaires regarding their thoughts on the city.
Herbst said he’s running to continue the work and values of his current and former alders, whose representation he appreciated.
“I know my district, I know the people who live here, and I thought, ‘Well, maybe it’s time for me to step up and accept this responsibility,’” he said. “I don’t want to leave it to someone else; I want to be the person that represents our district.”
Herbst, who moved to Fitchburg in 1987, is an electrical utility field and design engineer for Realtime Utility Engineers. He has spent the last 27 years as a member of the city’s Board of Public Works.
“I have a very good understanding of our city’s infrastructure and issues,” he said.
Herbst said his focus is relatively narrow and his issues concern District 1’s needs. Those include quality of life, responsible city spending and limiting tax increases and having basic services provided at a reasonable price, he said.
“I want to make sure we continue to have a good quality of life for all our residents in the district,” he said.
Those basic services include timeliness of city services in addition to quality, Herbst said – roads should be plowed adequately, and garbage should be picked up regularly.
Herbst said he’d also like to see people be able to afford to live close to where they work and have opportunities in the city that wouldn’t require residents to travel to Madison for employment.
“Over the past 20 years, we’ve had a lot of businesses locate here, and there’s a good reason for it,” he said. “We’re reasonable here, we don’t put up so many roadblocks like the City of Madison does and we have good people who are happy to have a job and would like to live close to where they work.
Maldonado told the Star he ran for alder because he wants to bring his life of service to the council.
Maldonado has worked with the Boys and Girls Club on Jenewein Road, and his wife owns and operates Luna’s Groceries in the Allied Drive neighborhood. Maldonado has lived in the city since 2009 and is the community impact director for the United Way of Dane County and the community outreach director for Luna’s Groceries.
Maldonado has served on the county’s task force for the Racial Justice in the Criminal System.
“All of the things that we do ultimately go back to serving and leadership,” he said. “I want to continue that work on the Fitchburg Council.”
Maldonado said his three priorities are youth development, economic equity and strong partnerships for the city. Having been a mentor for youth, Maldonado said options for young people are important, and wants to see more opportunities for children who live west of Verona Road.
“It helps families, having places that are safe for kids to go after school where they can develop their leadership skills,” he said. “For parents who work, it’s a game changer to have somewhere for your kids to go.”
Maldonado also said he’d like to see good outcomes with economic development that benefit people from all backgrounds in the city. Citing numerous closures in the Williamsburg Way neighborhood as a result of Verona Road construction, he said he’d like to see businesses that are reflective of the residents’ needs go back into the area.
“I want to engage residents to see what they would like to see available,” he said. “I would love to see spaces that both cater to residents in the neighborhood, as well as … even owned by our residents.”