The City of Fitchburg has its first contested race for the revamped 2019 election.
District 3 Ald. Aaron Richardson announced in an Oct. 30 news release he would run for the one-year term on the ballot next year, and Mayor Jason Gonzalez told the Star he plans to run for re-election.
The 2019 spring election will be for a one-year term after the Common Council voted earlier this year at Gonzalez’s behest to change term lengths.
All eight aldermanic seats and the office of mayor will be on the ballot next year, but staggered elections will begin in 2020. That year, half of the aldermanic seats are again up for a two-year term and the mayor is on the ballot for a three-year term.
Gonzalez told the Star he would not seek that three-year term in 2020 even if he wins next spring.
“When I ran for office, I always thought that two terms would be a good amount of time to serve in office,” Gonzalez said. “I would only be seeking the one-year term, and then I would be ready to move on to other parts of my life.”
Richardson, a lifelong Fitchburg resident, said in his release it’s “important to have a mayor that is dedicated to Fitchburg long-term and who respects residents, not just financially, but personally and professionally, as well.”
A marketing consultant and substitute teacher, Richardson is also a member of the Fitchburg Lions Club, a youth baseball coach and an “amateur beekeeper,” his release says.
“Our residents and businesses deserve someone who not only has the desire to serve, but also has the passion, vision and temperament to make sure every voice is heard at City Hall,” Richardson said in the release. “I... cannot think of anywhere else I would want to call home.”
Richardson is the chair of the Fitch-Rona EMS commission and co-chaired the Fitchburg Housing Task Force. Both could be among the significant discussions in the near future, as some alders have expressed a desire to change the EMS agreement with the town and city of Verona and the housing plan could help guide the new comprehensive plan.
“This is an important time for Fitchburg as we start to review the Comprehensive Plan, discuss annexation with the Town of Madison and continue to grow as a destination community for the next generation of families and businesses,” he stated in the release. “We have enough partisan division and uncivil behavior in Washington, and the last place we need that kind of behavior is here in Fitchburg.”
Gonzalez, a lawyer, said it was important to him to see the election reforms through and added that “stability” would help the city continue the “best growth… in probably a decade.” He specifically pointed to the Promega expansion, Phoenix’s plans to build a lab here and two other projects that are not public yet.
“We’ve finally got some momentum on economic development in the city,” he said.
He added that the new model for city grants to nonprofits through the Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative, a change that brought hundreds of people to budget hearings in 2017, is now “sustainable for our city.”
Gonzalez previously held the same seat Richardson is in until running for mayor in 2017, when he defeated incumbent Steve Arnold.
Those seeking nomination can begin collecting signatures Dec. 1 and will have to turn in the required number by early January.
The spring election will be April 2, with a primary Feb. 18 if needed.