Fitchburg will end a streak this year of three consecutive elections in which an alder has beaten the incumbent mayor.
Unless he’s defeated by a write-in campaign in the April 7 spring election, Mayor Aaron Richardson will get a three-year second term.
Richardson defeated incumbent Jason Gonzalez in April 2019 for the city’s first and only one-year mayoral term. That election was a transition year as the city began staggering election terms so there will be elections for alder every year.
Gonzalez had knocked Steve Arnold out of the seat in 2017, and Arnold unseated his predecessor, Shawn Pfaff, in 2015.
Elections for alder are far more competitive this year, with challenges at all four spots and one primary, in District 3, meaning there could be turnover of half on the council.
At least two alders will be new, as Alds. Anne Scott (Dist. 1) and Janell Rice (D-4) won’t be running for their seats this April.
There will be contested seats in two of Fitchburg’s three school districts – one in Verona and two in Madison. Oregon will have two new board members, as incumbents have chosen not to run, but there will be no contested seats.
For the Dane County Board of Supervisors, both incumbents Dorothy Krause in District 27, and Ann DeGarmo in District 33 – are running with no opponents.
In addition to local and regional races, the spring election will feature primaries for the November presidential election and U.S. House of Representatives. No primaries for the U.S. Senate will be held in Wisconsin this year.
Statewide, two people are hoping to unseat David Kelly as a justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Ed Fallone and Jill Karofsky. The seat is nominally nonpartisan, though each candidate is backed by traditionally conservative or liberal groups.
Dane County Circuit Court Judge William Hanrahan is also up for re-election, as are three Court of Appeals seats.
City of Fitchburg
Unlike prior elections, only half the council is at risk for turnover – for the first time in the city’s 36-year history, the seats are now staggered every other year, rather than have all of the seats up for election at once every two years.
One of the races will require a primary vote in February, as there are three people vying for Rice’s open District 4 seat. Randy Udell, Marc Jones and Scott Lehmann will be on the Tuesday, Feb. 18, primary ballot to narrow the number of candidates to two.
Udell is treasurer of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Jones, a retired AT&T linesman and farmer, ran for mayor in 2017, losing in a three-way primary with Gonzalez and Arnold. He and Lehmann, a deputy sheriff, competed in a four-way primary with Ed Kinney and Rice in 2019.
The other two seats in Districts 1, 2 and 3 will have contested races, but one won’t have an incumbent.
Ald. Anne Scott won’t run again for her District 1 seat, but Joe Maldonado and Dave Herbst have registered to run. Moldonado is co-owner of Luna’s Groceries, and Herbst is a citizen member of the city’s Board of Public Works.
In District 2, incumbent Dan Bahr will be challenged for his seat by Gabriella Gerhardt, an engagement programs manager for Madison-based biomedical research firm Morgridge.
And for the District 3 seat, incumbent Shannon Strassman will run for her seat for the first time in a general election after being appointed to fill Dan Carpenter’s seat after he moved out of the district. Dave Carlson, a former member of the city’s Plan Commission, will challenge her for the seat.
Verona Area School District
As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, only one of the school board races was contested.
The At-large seat up for re-election will feature a race between incumbent Debbie Biddle and newcomer Bob Ross. Kristina Navarro-Haffner, who represents the City of Verona, did not have any challengers as of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Oregon School District
With three candidates for three school board seats, it appears the first OSD elections since seats were reapportioned in September will be uncontested.
Still, there will be something to decide, with two candidates vying for a three-year term versus two years. And both are newcomers.
Up for election are Seats 1 and 2 Area II, held by Courtney Odorico and Barb Feeney, respectively, and Seat 1 in Area III held Tim LeBrun. Only LeBrun is seeking re-election.
Running in Area II are newcomers Heather Garrison and Kevin Mehring, with the top vote-getter receiving a three-year term; the runner-up two years.
The reapportionment, designed to match up representation with the fast-growing northern part of the district, gave Area II (City of Fitchburg and towns of Blooming Grove and Dunn) a second seat. To offset election years for the area in the future, district officials decided to make one of the terms two years initially, and then it would revert to a three-year term for the April 2022 election.
Garrison wrote in an email to the Star her initial thoughts on areas of focus fit well with OSD values, including more play-based learning, promoting diversity and inclusion, increasing the nutritional value of lunches, and further supporting teachers.
“Our family is grateful to be a part of a fantastic school district and look forward to giving back,” she wrote.
Mehring wrote the Star in an email he feels a responsibility to give back as his four boys move through the district.
“It starts with the passionate administrators and the dedicated teachers at all of our schools,” he wrote. “With the ongoing and anticipated growth of the district, especially in the northern portion where we currently reside, strong and proven leadership will be important to continue the fine work the current and past boards have done. I look forward to listening to all the constituents’ view on how we can continue to keep Oregon on a great path.”
The race for one of the Madison Metropolitan school board seats will require a primary in February.
Kate Toews won’t run again for Seat 6, but three people, Karen Ball, Maia Pearson and Christina Gomez Schmidt, have stepped forward to run for the spot. The primary election will be held Tuesday, Feb. 18.
The two races will be uncontested. Savion Castro’s Seat 2 had no one register as a challenger, a stark contrast to last spring, when almost 40 people vied to be nominated by the board for the spot, which had been vacated by former gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke.
Nicki Vander Meulen’s Seat 7 spot is no longer contested, as challenger Wayne Strong suspended his campaign on Thursday, Jan. 9.
Whoever is elected to the school board, they’ll be a part of one of the largest school referenda in state history, totalling around $350 million between the two of them. Elected school board members will also work with a new superintendent, for whom the district is currently in the process of hiring.