Fitchburg votes in Nov. 3 election

Poll worker David Adams sifts through absentee ballots to prepare them for tabulation on Election Day, Nov. 3, at District 4’s polling place at the city’s Community Center. The city had around 86% overall voter turnout for the election.

City of Fitchburg residents will have a contested election come April in three of four aldermanic districts – and one will have a primary in February.

At least two new people are guaranteed to join the Common Council in April, as both Alds. Sarah Shroeder (Dist. 3) and Tom Clauder (Dist. 4) filed for non-candidacy last month. Clauder, who has been in city government for over a decade as an alder and is a former mayor, told the Star in early December that he was planning to not run because he wanted to give someone else a voice in government.

Schroeder filed for non-candidacy in late December, but she did not return calls from the Star earlier in the month about her plans for whether she was running again.

There could be as many as four new alders on the council after the April 6 election.

In District 3, three newcomers will compete for the seat Schroeder is vacating, which has triggered a primary election Tuesday, Feb. 16. Those candidates are Shawnicia Youmas, Nicholas DiMiceli and Jay Allen.

Youmas, a Black woman, lives in the Leopold neighborhood, where nearly three-quarters of her neighbors are people of color based on the 2010 federal census. Youmas would bring her experiences of living in the neighborhood to the council, Ald. Dorothy Krause, who is also up for re-election, wrote in an email to the Star.

DiMiceli, a cybersecurity infrastructure engineer, came to the Common Council in late August to ask for alder support to oppose Public Health Madison and Dane County’s prohibition on grades 3-12 being taught in-person, an order which was later enjoined.

Allen, a former mayor from 2009-11, also ran unsuccessful campaigns for mayor in 2013 and 2015 and lost to Aaron Richardson for the District 3 seat in 2017. Allen was for many years a key figure in the Fitchburg Days festival and took on the event with a new committee for three years after several members of the nonprofit that ran the festival resigned in 2015.

In Districts 1 and 2, two incumbents will compete to keep their seats on the Council.

Dave Herbst, an electrical utility field and design engineer, is challenging Krause in District 1. Herbst ran for the other District 1 seat in the 2020 spring election against Ald. Joe Maldonado. Krause, who is self-employed and is also on the Dane County Board of Supervisors, has held the seat for almost a decade.

In District 2, Steven Heller, a project manager at Epic, will challenge Ald. Julia Arata-Fratta. Arata-Fratta, a tax accountant and business consultant, is running for her fourth consecutive term.

In District 4, a retired police officer will succeed a retired police officer. Jim Wheeler, a retired City of Madison police captain and an active volunteer for the United Way of Dane County who has publicly advocated for eliminating homelessness, is the only candidate on the ballot for the spot being vacated by Clauder, a former Fitchburg police officer.

In addition to all three of the city’s school boards, there will also be a contest for the county executive, the state superintendent of schools and a slate of Dane County circuit court judges, all of whom are incumbents running unopposed.

Verona Area School District

For the Verona Area school board, six people are running for three at-large seats.

Two of those include incumbents Carolyn Jahnke and Kalyanna Williams. Jahnke, who was previously Verona Area International School governance council president, has been on the board since 2018. Williams was appointed mid-last year to fill a vacancy created by former board member Debbie Biddle, who left the board in July.

Four other people are on the ballot: Jennifer Murphy, Nicole Vafadari, John Porco and Leotha Stanley. Murphy, Porco and Stanley were part of the 10-candidate slate that applied to fill Biddle’s seat last year.

Murphy is a math teacher at Savanna Oaks Middle School and is a faculty associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison secondary education math masters program.

Porco is a UW-Madison instructor and a former K-12 engagement coordinator for Literacy by the Lakes who is president of the New Century School governance board.

Stanley is the employment specialist and fatherhood program coordinator at Urban League of Greater Madison and previously served as the attendance coordinator at Verona Area High School.

Vafadari, who is the director of application systems implementation at Healthgrades, is the only person currently running that has not run for or applied to a seat before.

All seats on the school board are for three-year terms. The three highest vote-getters for the at-large seats will win a place on the school board in April.

Board member Meredith Stier Christensen is also running for her Outside Cities seat without a challenger.

Oregon School District

In the Oregon School District, both school board races have two candidates.

In Area I, which encompasses the Village of Oregon, Josh King and Mary Lokuta will vie to succeed longtime board member and president Steve Zach. In Area III, which comprises the towns of Brooklyn, Montrose, Oregon, Rutland and Union, and the Village of Brooklyn, incumbent Tim Pankratz faces challenger Aaron Heisler.

Madison Metropolitan School District

There are two candidates running for two seats for the Madison Metropolitan Board of Education.

Incumbent Savion Castro is running for his second term, after being appointed to the board in 2019 and winning a special election for his seat in 2020. For the second year in a row, Castro is running unopposed – a stark contrast to the 40 people who initially applied for his seat with him two years ago.

Another seat, being vacated by board president Gloria Reyes, is being sought by Maia Pearson. Pearson ran for the school board last year, but lost to board member Christina Gomez Schmidt.

Dane County

County executive Joe Parisi will run again for his third full term with a challenger for the first time since defeating five other candidates in 2011.

On Tuesday, Jan. 5, Mary Ann Nicholson, who lives in the Town of Springdale just outside of Verona, turned in her nomination papers to run against Parisi as an Independent.

According to her website, Nicholson is a proponent of open schools and restarting youth sports that have been limited by county COVID-19 regulations. Her website says she also opposes the county buying properties that are then removed from the tax base and costing more in property taxes to maintain roads.

Parisi has centralized his re-election campaign around continuing to guide the county through the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects.

“Covid-19 has tested us, tearing at the very fabric of our physical, emotional and economic well-being,” he wrote in a news release announcing his re-election bid. “The challenges before us from this pandemic are like none we have faced in our lifetime.”

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.