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Two candidates are running for the open seat of Monona mayor: city councilwoman Mary O’Connor and political newcomer Phil De Villers. The term is for two years.

Phil A. De Villers

Age: 47

Address: 3939 Monona Drive, Monona

Family: Christina Bishop and our 4½-year-old son, Owen

Job: CPA, financial consultant and start-up investor

Political experience: None

Other public service: Various volunteer positions

Education: BBA 1992, UW-Madison, degrees in accounting and risk management and insurance

Mary O’Connor

Age: 65

Address: 5103 Winnequah Road, Monona

Family: Married to Bob Bocher, 2 adult daughters, 3 grandchildren

Job: Retired librarian

Political Experience: Member, Monona City Council since 2012

Other Public Service: Friends of Monona Public Library Board; treasurer, Monona Public Library Foundation; Secretary, Monona Grove Education Foundation; former president, Monona Public Library Board; former president, MG Sings (Monona Grove Choir Boosters); former Girl Scout leader and community cookie sale co-chair

Education: BA, history; MA, library and information studies; UW-Madison

Email: or Facebook: Mary O’Connor for Mayor of Monona

What experience or insight do you bring to this race that your opponent doesn’t have?

De Villers: As a CFO of a national company with 1,500 employees I have managed budgets and financials in a historically low-margin industry where taking care of pennies and nickels determines profit or loss — a city budget is no different. Having lived on both the East and West Coast and traveling internationally on business has given me insight into unique community planning and social ideas that work.

O’Connor: As a member of the City Council since 2012, I have chaired the Community Media and Sustainability Committees and the Transit and Landmarks Commissions. I co-chaired the Parks Board and serve on the Community Development Authority. As a longtime volunteer in the community and the schools, I have a good understanding of Monona and the priorities of its citizens.

List three of your top budget priorities.

De Villers: Communities like Monona have suffered under statewide budget cuts initiated by Gov. Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature. The Trump/Ryan agenda will likely accelerate funding cuts. In light of these pressures, it’s incumbent that we maintain existing services to Monona’s thriving senior community, ensure our roads are properly maintained and our parks and recreational facilities (pool/library) don’t suffer.

O’Connor: My primary budget priority is to provide vital city services under the constraints imposed by the state’s levy limit. Property tax increases must be controlled so that our residents can continue to afford to live in Monona. And we need to manage our TIF borrowing capacity to make the best possible use of the monies we have available for redevelopment.

How would you change the way the city handles development?

De Villers: Unlike more suburban communities, Monona is boxed in by Madison and Lake Monona. Therefore, development must come from within. I successfully redeveloped a building in NYC that is on the national historical register, having bought it from Goldman Sachs bankers who had other plans. The proposed Riverwalk development needs an experienced hand to see it completed. The city also needs to take the lead in developing or preserving the now-vacant San Damiano property.

O’Connor: Monona is completely landlocked with little undeveloped property which means almost all of our development projects involve redevelopment. The city and Community Development Authority have developed a good long-term approach to redevelopment, making judicious use of TIF funds which is working well for us. In the future, we could do more to consolidate ownership of properties in targeted redevelopment areas.

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