Our Wisconsin Revolution - Dane

meet the candidates

City of Verona

Candidate Forum Video

Luke Diaz, Verona Mayor

Why are you running? What are your top two policy objectives? 

I am running to represent all Verona residents and to keep Verona's hometown feel even as we grow.

One of my top priorities is supporting responsible development that is good for people who want to walk or bike, that provides a variety of different housing, that is environmentally friendly, that supports small businesses, and that is centered around place making. Another of my priorities is to work for greater transparency in city government. As an alder, I've pushed for greater transparency and better communication with success. If elected Mayor, I will be able to do even more. It's essential for citizens to understand what their government is doing. After all, how can people judge their government if they don't know what it's doing?

Of course, there are a lot of other important issues facing the city and I plan to work on a variety of things.

What qualifications and/or experience make you a strong candidate for elected office?

I worked at Epic for over 11 years and I currently work in the medical devices field. I’m a proud father and dedicated to our community. However, being a good elected official is more than just having certain qualifications, it’s about serving the community. When I stand for open government, responsible budgeting, protecting our environment, representing neighborhood concerns, and supporting city services like the library, senior center and fire department, it benefits Verona far more than any of my professional or community qualifications. I want to make Verona a better place for everyone.

Will you help us implement OWR’s policy objectives at the local level? How? You can consult OWR's platform here

I believe that my values line up with OWR in many areas. For example, I've supported plans to help local business and have helped local business owners navigate city issues. I stood against the efforts to unfairly dismiss Verona firefighters when the city moved to a fire department from a fire district. I'm working to protect the Badger Mill Creek, which has unfortunately been designated as an impaired waterway by the DNR. I've consistently supported complete streets that help meet the needs of people who want to walk, bike, or drive. I also worked with the city clerk to reduce voting times after I noticed unreasonable voting lines and received complaints from constituents. I've supported and will continue to support fair and sustainable development for all communities, regardless of income level.

What is your plan to win? Feel free to list (or provide web links to) any endorsements you have already received, the size of your campaign team, your fundraising strategy, and any other relevant information.

I plan to go out and talk to voters and back that up with mailers, flyers, and digital advertising. I've been endorsed by various elected officials including Representative Sondy Pope, Representative Dianne Hesselbein, Sheriff Dave Mahoney, and Verona resident Joe Wineke (former elected official) as well as the Dane County Democratic party. I expect to have other endorsements as well. Naturally, I am raising money and need to raise more money to get my message out.

 

Dennis Beres, Verona Mayor

Why are you running? What are your top two policy objectives? 

I have been asked to run by a great number of friends and neighbors who are concerned about a possible void in leadership at the city level. I too was concerned when I learned that Jon Hochkammer had decided not to run. Verona has been blessed with great leadership for many years which has lead to a very thriving, prosperous city.Demand for housing is very strong which reflects well on the quality of life available here.My two main objectives are to maintain that quality of life and to ensure that good future planning takes place to keep it that way for years to come.

What qualifications and/or experience make you a strong candidate for elected office?

The most relevant experience I have is the 15 years I spent serving on the Verona Area School Board.I was President for 8 of those years ending in April of 2017. During those years the board completed some of the most important planning work that had taken place in decades.Sound financial planning to create balanced budgets and retire debt while maintaining adequate reserves. Also strategic planning for where and when additional capacity would be needed.This allowed us to present to the community a referendum plan for a new high school and district wide remodeling which passed with huge margins of approval.The new building plan was the culmination of over 10 years of planning for future growth. I served on the IDAC committee for all 15 years of my service. This committee allowed me to serve side with municipal leaders and administrators from all the communities which make up the Verona Area School District.During my time on the board VASD was considered one of the most desirable districts in the state. Cooperation between our unions and administration allowed us to navigate the difficult times after the implementation of Act 10. I served side by side with administrators and union representative to negotiate innovative insurance and retirement packages which improved employee morale and yet saved the tax payers millions of dollars.I am also a local business owner with over 40 years experience in the financial services field.

Will you help us implement OWR’s policy objectives at the local level? How? You can consult OWR's platform here

I am a strong believer in local control. During my time on the school board I learned that local officials generally know what is appropriate for their communities and must be given the tools and resources to carry out their mission. Mandates from State and Federal governments are often counter productive to that mission. Particularly unfunded mandates.

What is your plan to win? Feel free to list (or provide web links to) any endorsements you have already received, the size of your campaign team, your fundraising strategy, and any other relevant informationI have been heartened by the outpouring of support I have received so far and will build on that momentum by being out in the community speaking with my many friends and neighbors in Verona.

 

Chad Kemp, Alderperson District 1

This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire.

 

Katie kohl, alderperson District 2

Why are you running? What are your top two policy objectives? 

I believe that Verona needs a concentrated effort to develop our downtown area and needs to work at attracting shops and restaurants that would compliment the wonderful businesses we already have. I envision a walkable/bikeable downtown corridor that the Verona community, and tourists, will frequent. I believe in responsible, sustainable development, using quality materials, and creating an atmosphere for small businesses and local entrepreneurs to flourish. I believe it would be very positive to offer more public transportation options to connect people with jobs in and outside of Verona.

Verona is a wonderful place to live and raise a family, which is why my family chose to move here. There is, however, a shortage of reasonably-priced housing for families. It is difficult for a middle-class, two-income family to find an affordable, family-friendly home that isn’t in need of expensive renovations. There are even fewer options for people/families of lower socio-economic backgrounds. I believe that the city needs to work with developers to offer QUALITY accessible housing options for families. Our teachers, police, and firefighters should be able to live in the city in which they serve.

What qualifications and/or experience make you a strong candidate for elected office?

I am a Forensic Scientist/DNA Analyst at the State Crime Lab. I have held scientific and supervisory positions. Because of this, I am a skilled project manager and am able to lead others. I have dedicated my life to public service and feel honored to serve the citizens of this state. I am on our school’s governance board and fundraising committee. I am an active member of my community, volunteering for the Badger Prairie Needs Network, Girl Scouts, and 4-H, as well as my church, Good Shepherd Lutheran, and as a coach for the Verona Lacrosse Club.

Will you help us implement OWR’s policy objectives at the local level? How? You can consult OWR's platform here

I will help implement as many of your policy objectives as I can at the local level. There are so many to choose from, but I definitely would love to make sure that all employees are making a living wage, that our city is as free from discrimination as possible, and that there is affordable housing for all (see my answer to question 1).

What is your plan to win? Feel free to list (or provide web links to) any endorsements you have already received, the size of your campaign team, your fundraising strategy, and any other relevant information.

I have received endorsements from the Dane Dems, Wisconsin Progress, Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, and Rep. Dianne Hesselbein. I have a campaign plan that includes 2-3 passes of doing doors in my district, as well as sending out 3-4 mailers and a concentrated social media campaign, focusing on voters in my specific district. For fundraising, I am over halfway to my goal. I have accomplished this via emails, social media, and making phone calls. I am planning a fundraising event for the beginning of February, as well.

 

Jack Linder, Alderperson district 2

This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire.

 

Brad Stiner, Alderperson District 3

Why are you running? What are your top two policy objectives? 

I enjoy working with people, shaking hands, sharing thoughts, and working to solve issues; Maintaining Neighborhoods Identity; Continue to develop affordable housing;

What qualifications and/or experience make you a strong candidate for elected office?

My ability to understand neighborhoods, during my monthly meetings we share our thoughts openly. I take their input back to city departments for interactions and working to solve issue;

Will you help us implement OWR’s policy objectives at the local level? How? You can consult OWR's platform here

I will always listen and make individual decisions; taking decisions to committees, then to council;

What is your plan to win? Feel free to list (or provide web links to) any endorsements you have already received, the size of your campaign team, your fundraising strategy, and any other relevant information.

My plan is to continue doing what I do, meet with Neighborhoods on a monthly basis, walk neighborhoods, shaking hands and enjoying a cup of coffee, while sharing ideas;

 

Kate Cronin, alderperson District 3

Why are you running? What are your top two policy objectives? 

As a downtown homeowner in Verona since 2003, I’ve had a front row seat to experience the increasing traffic through Verona, and to witness the expanding business and residential developments throughout Verona. While it is exciting to see new business and housing options coming to our city, I have several concerns. Many of the businesses that have newly opened in Verona are in the service industry (restaurants and hotels) and less likely to provide family supporting jobs. At the same time, the housing developments that are being proposed are targeted at high earning families, and these proposed housing developments are also, in some cases, reducing the small amount of reasonably priced rentals that Verona does offer. My two policy objectives: advancing how we, as a community, can ensure that anyone who wants to make Verona their home can afford to do so; and expansion of city services for our residents, such as making Sunday hours at the Verona library year-round, expanding access to yard waste drop off and increasing recycling pick up.

What qualifications and/or experience make you a strong candidate for elected office?

I am a health educator and research coordinator who has spent the last two decades managing the implementation of large academic research grants and contracts. My skills as a planner, project and financial manager will serve me well on the council. Much of the research that I have been involved with has been community-based participatory research, an approach that requires bringing people with diverse perspectives to the table, and a willingness to create shared opportunities to support lasting change through collaborative work. My background in public health nutrition and physical activity also give me a unique perspective on the impact of the “built” environment – or more commonly, the impact of how walkable a neighborhood is, and/or how density of fast food restaurants impacts health. My skills and training, as well as experience creating healthy and thriving neighborhoods, are what make me a strong candidate for elected office.

Will you help us implement OWR’s policy objectives at the local level? How? You can consult OWR's platform here

I support OWR’s policy objectives. If elected, I will support efforts to create a local economy that works for all, through efforts to attract family supporting jobs to Verona, promoting affordable housing options, directing funding toward the Verona Area School District, and working to increase access to regional public transit opportunities. As a concerned citizen, I will continue to work to ensure free and unfettered access to the ballot box and to advocate for the protection of our valuable and irreplaceable natural resources.

What is your plan to win? Feel free to list (or provide web links to) any endorsements you have already received, the size of your campaign team, your fundraising strategy, and any other relevant information.

I am focusing my campaign on direct voter contact. I have a large group of volunteers who are committed to assisting me in canvasing my district through in-person contact with voters at their doors. I will also reach voters directly through targeted mailings and a Get Out the Vote initiative shortly before the election. I have a campaign manager, treasurer and social media/editor represented on my Kitchen Cabinet. These individuals have already assisted me with my fundraising goal so that I can spend the bulk of my time before the election focused on direct voter contact. I have received an endorsement by Wisconsin Progress and the Dane Dems (Democratic Party of Dane County) and will be soliciting endorsements from other groups with missions that align with my campaign goals and objectives.

 

Evan Touchett, Alderperson district 4

This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire.