Four candidates are vying for three seats on the Monona City Council in the April 1 election. Each seat has a two-year term. (I) indicates an incumbent.
Address: 131 Shato Lane
Job: Attorney, Wisconsin Public Defender
Political experience: Member, Dane County Ethics Board
Other public service: Board Member, Government Lawyers Division of Wisconsin State Bar Association; Committee Member, OPEN Madison.
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Marquette University; law degree, University of Missouri.
Brian Holmquist (I)
Address: 508 Panther Trail
Job: Occupational therapist and autism specialist with Madison School District, small-business owner
Political experience: Current Monona City Council member
Other public service: Chair of the Occupational Therapy Credentialing Board, President of the Friends of Monona Parks and Recreation
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Calvin College; master’s degree, Pacific University.
Mary O’Connor (I)
Address: 5103 Winnequah Road
Job: Retired librarian
Political experience: Monona City Council since 2012
Other public service: Monona Library Board 1996-2012; current secretary, Monona Grove Education Foundation; current treasurer, Monona Public Library Foundation; chief election inspector.
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, UW-Madison.
Kathy Thomas (I)
Address: 5903 Winnequah Road
Job: Retired. Former prevention specialist/grant administrator, Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Political experience: 32 years on the Monona City Council.
Other Public Service: President, Monona Elementary PTO; Monona Youth Hockey Board; Community Festival Board member and volunteer; Memorial Day Parade Committee; Monona 75th Anniversary Committee chair.
Education: Attended UW-Madison, MATC.
What distinguishes you from your opponents?
Blomme: I bring a fresh voice to the Monona City Council. I have been working hard meeting voters door to door the last couple of months. When elected, I am committed to continuing this work and vow to go door to door every year to listen to the ideas that neighbors have of how to make city government more efficient.
Holmquist: My service and experience prepare me to honor the process of governmental decision-making, encourage ongoing public participation, effectively manage budgets and make tough analytical decisions. I believe in a strong community that supports its seniors to age in place while attracting new families and provides vital services while coordinating efforts with the county and other communities to maintain our fiscal responsibility.
O’Connor: Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in many community organizations in Monona in both official and volunteer capacities. Those experiences have given me an understanding of the priorities of the community and an appreciation for all Monona has to offer. They’ve also helped me develop the ability to work well with a wide variety of people.
Thomas: I think we have an outstanding Council and we all bring our individual unique knowledge and skills to the legislative agenda. Because of my many years of experience, I have knowledge of all aspects of city government, and I have developed a keen insight of the legislative process and the importance of working together to arrive at a balanced approach that is consistent with community values.
What do you feel that city government does well?
Blomme: I support the continued work that city government has done making Monona more sustainable. The Sustainability Committee has made great recommendations to ensure that all city projects consider the environmental impact. I will work to take this focus and improve our city parks and recreation system and improve our pedestrian and bike trails.
Holmquist: The city’s focus on developing plans to create and support programs to address citywide redevelopment, improve infrastructure, analyze services and maximize efficiencies. The city has been fiscally responsible and well managed, resulting in our bond rating improving to AA+, one of the best bond ratings for a community of its size in Wisconsin.
O’Connor: We’ve maintained essential city services under very tight state-imposed budget constraints. Our Parks and Recreation Department provides great recreational opportunities for all ages. Our library was Wisconsin Library of the Year in 2010 and continues to provide excellent service. The new Monona Drive and Broadway corridors are attracting commercial redevelopment opportunities, which will increase our tax base.
Thomas: Monona is a great place to live, raise a family and grow old. Our police, fire and EMS are first rate, and our library, parks and recreation programs and senior services provide award-winning services that are highly valued. We appreciate and support our public works crews who do a great job of plowing the streets, leaf pickup, park maintenance, as well as other public works services.
What could the city do better?
Blomme: Small business and entrepreneurship is the lifeblood to a vibrant Monona. I will join Mayor Bob Miller in his work to capitalize on the recently completed Monona Drive reconstruction project. This project has provided a new opportunity to attract businesses to Monona. I will be a champion for bringing new business to our great city.
Holmquist: We need to embrace the recently completed strategic plan to develop metrics for services, leverage technology to improve efficiencies and communications internally and with the community; proceed with the sustainability plan to gather metrics, identify and implement strategies and inform the process for ongoing decision making; continue our community-wide revitalization efforts, including active discussion regarding our city’s aging infrastructure.
O’Connor: Increasing our emphasis on sustainability can impact the city in many ways — improved public transportation, more energy-efficient city operations, decreasing runoff into the lakes — the possibilities are endless. And we must continue to redevelop some of our commercial areas, bringing in more local shops and restaurants. We’ve got a good start on both, but more needs to be done.
Thomas: During the reconstruction of Monona Drive, we cut back on street maintenance. Now that the Drive is complete, we can get back on track and do a better job of maintaining our city streets. The city has been recognized for its success in attracting development. We must maintain and expand our efforts to attract new development, particularly on Monona Drive.