One of Madison’s most economically diverse districts will see new representation following the spring election.
Four candidates are vying for the District 13 seat, which covers parts of the south and west sides along Monona Bay and Lake Wingra. Since August, it has been represented by Ald. Allen Arntsen, who replaced former alder Sara Eskrich, who left mid-term following her acceptance of a new job outside of Madison.
Candidates Tag Evers, talent buyer for FPC Live, and Epic Systems technical trainer David Hoffert were finalists along with Arntsen in the city’s selection for interim alders.
Financial advisor Justin Kirchen and insurance agent Lee Lazar are also running for District 13 alder and will be on the Feb. 19. primary ballot along with Evers and Hoffert. The two candidates with the most votes will compete in the general election April 2.
Evers, 62, is running to be a part of addressing Madison’s racial disparities.
“Racial equity is our city’s definitional crisis,” Evers said. “I think it’s time for us to move Madison forward.”
If elected, Evers said he will “champion” the city’s lakes and natural resources. He also said density and infill is "inevitable" in the district but that it is "absolutely necessary" that residents are included in that conversation.
Hoffert, 32, is the president of the Dudgeon Monroe Neighborhood Association and the former president of the Parkwood Hills Community Association. He said his strength lies in communicating with divided parties to reach a solution.
As president of the Dudgeon Monroe Neighborhood Association, Hoffert helped navigate the retail and housing development that replaced the former Associated Bank on Monroe Street.
“I’m a native Madisonian. I love this city. I’ve been getting involved,” Hoffert said. “As long as I’m able to contribute to my community and continue to be successful, I’m interested in doing that for as broad of a population as I can.”
Kirchen, 29, is concerned with the city’s increasing property taxes and crime. He says the greatest challenge affecting the city is its outstanding debt.
If elected, he would request city departments save up operating budget dollars to use as a down payment for requested capital expenditures. He would also like to extend the city’s retirement age on a staggered basis to drive down costs.
“I do think that my experiences in financial services can bring some financial literacy to the (City Council), so that I can help others on the (City Council) understand the repercussions on how to deal with the situation,” Kirchen said.
Lazar, 41, said his main objective is to achieve responsible management of the city’s growth and development. Density is inevitable, he said.
“I would love to be a person to bring some stability to this position and offer good representation,” Lazar said.
District 13 encompasses a diverse district that runs from Monroe Street to Lake Monona, bordered by Regent Street on the north and the University of Wisconsin Arboretum and Wingra Creek on the south.
It is also defined by development. The city is eyeing a massive redevelopment of the Triangle housing complex, navigating competing proposals for the former Truman Olson site on South Park Street and in the process of approving a mixed-use development at the corner of South Park Street and Fish Hatchery Road.
The district could also be the site of the city’s third permanent supportive housing complex.
Currently, District 13 residents are divided over Edgewood High School’s proposal to build a stadium with lights, seats and amplified sound to host Friday night football games and other varsity events on its Monroe Street campus.
Evers is adamantly opposed to the proposal. Evers feels Edgewood is pushing through its proposal without concern for the neighborhood, which he said is “emblematic” of a broader development problem in Madison.
“If the advantages and benefits of Edgewood are dispersed broadly but harm is incurred locally, it’s really incumbent upon the city to be concerned about the extent to which the fabric of this neighborhood could dramatically change,” Evers said.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Lazar strongly supports the proposal. Lazar said the stadium is justified based on the need for the resources and the lack of taxpayer impact.
“There’s a supply and demand for these facilities,” Lazar said. “We need more facilities because we’re growing.”
Lazar pointed out that Edgewood is set back from the street, separating the campus from neighbors. If a proposal is approved, Lazar said the city should enforce any use restrictions that are set.
Hoffert and Kirchen land in the middle of the debate.
Hoffert is “open to the concept” of a stadium at Edgewood. However, he is opposed to the current iteration of the proposal because he said it does not reflect a "genuine negotiation with the neighborhood."
With Hoffert’s past experience navigating controversial development proposals in the neighborhood, he said his strength is in facilitating discussion.
Kirchen said trust needs to be rebuilt between Edgewood, the city and the neighborhood. Whatever decision is made, Kirchen said the city needs an enforcement mechanism to hold Edgewood accountable.
Kirchen said the residents have valid concerns and that Edgewood should be able to provide for their student body.
“There needs to be a compromise on both sides,” Kirchen said. “It’s a football field for kids.”