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Wisconsin State Journal (copy)

An incumbent who has served on the Middleton City Council for nearly three decades faces a challenger in the race for the District 5 seat in the April 2 election. The term is two years. (I) indicates incumbent.

Luke Fuszard

Age: 37

Address: 8934 Red Beryl Drive

Family: Married with two children

Job: Senior director of strategic alliances, Artemis Health

Prior elected office: None

Other public service: Middleton Community Development Authority, Workforce Housing Authority, Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District Facilities Planning Committee and Foundation board of directors

Education: Bachelor’s degree, University of Texas; master’s degree in business administration, Harvard Business School

Howard Teal (I)

Age: 75

Address: 7124 Companion Lane

Family: Married

Job: Retired, Middleton-Cross Plains School District bus driver

Prior elected office: 28 years on the Middleton City Council, including 18+ years as District 5 council member

Other public service: North Mendota Parkway Commission

Education: Madison West High School

Q&A

Why are you a better candidate than your opponent?

Fuszard: I am not asking voters to cast their ballot against my opponent, but instead for me and my vision of what Middleton can achieve in the next few years, in a time of challenge, change and opportunity. My ancestors were some of the original residents of this area. Working together with their neighbors over multiple generations, Middleton has become the community which we enjoy today. However, if Middleton is to remain a place where people choose to live, work and play, then it is important that a new generation of leaders step forward and answer the call to service. My platform includes an emphasis on three key commitments: Good neighbors, good schools and good government. I want to ensure all who wish to live in Middleton can afford to do so, from new residents to those who have been here for years. Finally, to me, good government means being in constant contact with your constituents in an honest and transparent way. It’s true that very few residents will agree with me 100 percent of the time, but I will always be there to listen to you and help with the needs you have from the city.

Teal: I have served on the Middleton City Council for 28 years.

What is the most important issue in the community, and how would you address it?

Fuszard: There are a number of important issues in our community, from ensuring all who wish to live in Middleton can afford to do so, including new residents and those who have been here for years, to maintaining our community’s second-to-none public education system. Talking to neighbors in the community, and by knocking on hundreds of doors, it’s clear most citizens don’t expect me to have all the answers. Instead, they are looking for someone who is willing to listen. And too many of my neighbors feel as though no one is currently listening. Therefore, a big part of my platform includes opening additional lines of communication between the Middleton City Council and its constituents. That includes the use of technology, frequent town hall meetings across the district, and good old-fashioned neighbor-to-neighbor conversations. I promise I won’t stop knocking on doors and reaching out after the election.

Teal: Recovering from the disastrous floods of 2018, working with FEMA and Dane County to continue recovery efforts.

Do you have any new ideas on how to keep property taxes in check?

Fuszard: Property taxes are a strain to so many people, making some feel they may not be able to stay in this community. But we also need to make sure Middleton remains a place we all want to live. It is a challenge, and our elected officials must make sure everyone understands what we need to spend money on, and be extremely careful not to waste any revenue to which we all contribute. One idea that has been successful in other parts of the country are “Payments in Lieu of Taxes,” or PILOTs. PILOTs are voluntary payments made by tax-exempt organizations such as universities, hospitals, utilities and government entities. These entities traditionally don’t pay property taxes, so PILOT agreements are negotiated between the city and each institution. Middleton should investigate whether something similar could be feasible here.

Teal: I serve on the finance committee, and we are trying to work within the property tax limits imposed on municipalities by the state. Simply saying “no” to requests submitted by department heads.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.