Candidate Q&A: Fitchburg Mayor
Fitchburg Mayor Jason Gonzalez is running for a second term against Ald. Aaron Richardson in the April 2 election. The term is for one year. (I) indicates incumbent.
Jason Gonzalez (I)
Address: 2674 North Park Lane #402
Job: Trial attorney and small business owner
Prior elected office: Mayor since 2017; City Council member, 2013-2017
Other public service: Chairman, Personnel Committee; vice-chairman, Public Safety and Human Services Committee; chairman, Mayoral Ad Hoc Committee – City Hall Expansion Oversight Committee; mayoral designee, Mayoral Ad Hoc Committee – Fire Station Oversight Committee; vice-chairman, Transportation and Transit Commission; Parks Commission; Landmarks Preservation Commission; paid-on-call firefighter/EMT since 2003 (with Fitchburg Fire since 2007); long-time “Big” for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County; pro bono attorney for Capitol Solidarity Singers; private bar defense attorney for Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office
Education: Graduate, Edgewood High School; bachelor’s of science degree, UW-Madison; law degree, University of Wisconsin Law School
Address: 2676 McGaw Road
Prior elected office: City Council member since 2017
Other public service: Fitchburg Parks commission, 2005-2014; youth basketball coach, 2016-2019; Fitchburg Lions Club member since 2018; co-chairman, Fitchburg Housing Task Force, 2018; chairman, Fitchburg EMS Commission since 2017
Education: Bachelor’s degree, UW-Green Bay; master’s degree in business administration, UW-Whitewater
What makes you better qualified than your opponent for this position?
Gonzalez: As a two-term City Council member and current mayor, I have the experience to continue to bring together Fitchburg’s growing, diverse community. In my first term as mayor I have invested in our city employees by giving them a cost-of-living increase in both years, invested in public safety and public works, all while reducing the annual city taxes.
Richardson: There are a lot of ways I’m more qualified. As a lifelong Fitchburg resident, I am committed to Fitchburg long-term. I will listen to residents. I will increase the professionalism of the mayor’s office. I will treat residents, community leaders and my colleagues with respect. I will not embarrass the city and have to constantly apologize for my actions.
What could the city do better and how would you help achieve that?
Gonzalez: Fitchburg could do a better job at continuing to invest in our high level of city services (e.g. public safety, public works, library and senior center) while keeping the city tax rate reasonable and qualifying for state programs such as expenditure restraint and meeting the levy limit. Fitchburg is doing that through the Health Neighborhoods Initiative, a program I support.
Richardson: The city can do a better job listening to residents. Too often we fail to do what our residents want and are asking for and care more about developers. I have been an advocate for residents and will continue to advocate for what residents want. I will ensure the City Council acts in the best interests of residents, not developers.
How will you address growth in the city?
Gonzalez: Fitchburg is 36 square miles and only one-third of our land has been developed, leading to competing interests with our urban, suburban and rural communities. In order to have balance, community stakeholders from all three communities need to be at the table as Fitchburg reviews and revises our comprehensive plan, focusing on the need to maximize land use responsibly.
Richardson: I have heard loudly from residents that they want more owner-occupied housing opportunities built in the city and less apartments built. I will lead the revision of our comprehensive plan and ensure the plan encourages a wide variety of housing ownership opportunities. We will continue to grow smartly and establish guidelines on where growth in Fitchburg will occur.