Voters pick Marklein, Liebert, Deupree, Tidwell for Janesville City Council
JANESVILLE—Janesville City Council incumbents Sam Liebert and Doug Marklein believe their victories in a tight election Tuesday might have shown the strength of most of the six candidates running for four open seats.
But both said their re-election was a sign the council has made the right moves in a two-year term that’s seen a slew of large-ticket public projects take hold, including the controversial $9 million fire station project.
“Whether you’re talking about the fire station or any number of other projects, things had been kicked down the road. We stopped kicking them,” Liebert said. “I take re-election as an affirmation that we’re going about things right. The council is doing what the majority of the people in this city want.”
Marklein said some people might not be happy about future hikes in taxes and fees, such as a more than $30 hike on the average city tax bill for the new fire station alone. But he said his and Liebert’s re-election show most voters support the spending.
“We wrapped up a lot of things that have hung for a lot of years. Fees and taxes had to go up—it’s an unfortunate reality of today’s political system, and it’s not going to get any easier,” Marklein said. “For that, we took some heat. But you can see the majority of people are satisfied.”
The two incumbents got the most votes.
Two newcomers, Fourth Ward resident Kay Deupree and federal mediator Carol Tidwell, also garnered seats in an election that ended with a narrow margin for three of the four winners.
Tidwell’s win Tuesday had her trailing Leibert by just 30 votes as the third-highest vote getter in the election, and Marklein led all vote-getters with 5,642 votes.
Candidate Billy McCoy trailed the pack with just 7 percent of the vote.
But that was enough to pull a race tight between Deupree and candidate Paul Williams, who’d brought years of prior experience as a former council member to the contest.
Deupree led Williams at the final unofficial count Tuesday night by 173 votes.
Deupree was still in shock late Tuesday that she will be a city council member.
“I’m still dealing with the fact it really happened,” Deupree said. “I’ve got a lot to learn, and I’m looking forward to doing that. I can’t wait to deal with new council members and the incumbents to discover all we can try to do for this city.”
Deupree’s immediate goal is to find ways to engage residents in the city’s plans.
Tidwell, who was more muted in her response Tuesday night, would only say she was looking forward to working with both new members of the city council and incumbents.
Deupree and Tidwell will join a council with a nearly even split of incumbents and newcomers.
Marklein, Liebert and sitting council members Jim Farrell and Mark Bobzien all have served at least one term on the council.
New council member Rich Gruber was appointed by the council last month to fill a seat vacated by Matt Kealy, who resigned early this year.
Gruber’s appointment runs through the rest of Kealy’s term, which ends in fall 2016.
Council President DuWayne Severson and council member Brian Fitzgerald opted not to run again.