Two candidates for the open District 2 alder seat showcased different approaches to the city’s issues as they presented before the Common Council on Monday, April 27.
Charlie Ryan, a Verona Area High School graduate who works in nonprofit management, emphasized the need for more affordable housing in the city. Former mayoral candidate Dennis Beres focused primarily on business development.
Ryan and Beres are both vying for the position left open by former alder Sarah Gaskell, who left the council in February, citing conflicts created by her new position as administrator for the Town of Verona.
Their presentations accompanied applications for the position to be considered by alders that included resumes and written answers to questions about their backgrounds and goals for the city. Alders are expected to vote on who to select for the seat at their next meeting, May 11.
Beres is well known in Verona, having spent eight years as the school board president before stepping down in 2017 and losing to Luke Diaz in mayor a year later.
Ryan wrote in his application he was born in Wisconsin and went to high school in Verona, and returned with his family in 2013 after several years away, including time working in refugee resettlement in Australia.
Beres wrote in his application that he did not plan to run for the seat on the council after filling in for the rest of the vacant term, although he added, “Never say never.”
Ryan wrote in his application that if appointed he would run again for the seat in April 2021.
Ryan: NextDoor survey
Ryan took a novel approach to learning about what issues are important to people in his potential district.
He put up a post on the NextDoor platform, which people within a specific neighborhood can use to communicate with one another, asking for feedback on what they would like the council to focus on. It drew more than 140 responses, including some from city officials.
“I thought it was sort of an innovative way to reach out to the electorate,” Ryan told alders.
He said the responses in part informed his application for the position.
Ryan told the council he wanted to focus on creating a better mix of housing options for people in Verona so people who work in the city would also be able to afford to live in it.
Ryan also wrote in his application that other important issues facing the city include creating a more walkable and lively downtown, with locally owned shops and restaurants, and safety – especially pedestrian safety and addressing home and vehicle break-ins. All were discussed at length on the post.
Beres: development focus
Beres is a financial consultant who has lived in District 2 for 30 years, according to his application.
“The most important issues facing Verona continue to be development-based,” he wrote.
Beres emphasized his previous experience serving on the school board, as well as what should be done with the city’s downtown, particularly the redevelopment of the Sugar Creek Elementary School site, which will be transferred to the city later this year.
Beres told alders he wanted to base the decision on what to do with the site on public input, but he did not favor the oft-floated idea of putting a new public pool in the space. He said he would prefer more residential uses along with a community center of some kind.
Proposals for developing that site were due April 27.