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Spring 2014 Election

Five of 29 Rock County Board seats contested

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Catherine W. Idzerda
March 26, 2014

JANESVILLE—On April 1, all of the 29 seats on the Rock County Board are up for election, but only five are being contested.

Supervisors serve two-year terms.

DISTRICT 8

BRIAN KNUDSON (I)

Age: 40

Address: 14934 W. Dorner Road, Brodhead.

Job: Rock County Farm Service Agency

Education: Bachelor's degrees in political science and animal science, UW-Platteville.

Community service: Rock County 4-H Fair volunteer, organizer and founder of the Children's Christmas Benefit.

Elected posts: Rock County Board, 1998-present.

Major campaign issues: Knudson said he wanted to “bring a rural voice to the county board” and to “ensure that the rural community is represented.

“All towns and village perspectives need to be included in county discussions,” Knudson said.

RUSSELL RUCKER

Age: 52

Address: 311 N. Mowe St., Orfordville.

Job: Union painter for Schmelzer Paint Company

Education: Madison Area Technical College courses

Community service: None listed.

Elected posts: Orfordville trustee, board of appeals, planning commission and police committee.

Major campaign issues: “Taxes should be increased only for specific common needs. I would seek alternatives and prioritize our needs. There is always a struggle between government and taxation. Over the last 15 years, our county tax levy has increased nearly 70 percent while wages have stagnated and job losses piled up.”

DISTRICT 9

LYMAN E. ELLIOT III

Age: 40

Address: 3011 W. Cox Road, Edgerton.

Job: Professional educator

Education: Bachelor's degrees in history and education, minor in sociology, UW-Milwaukee; master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

Community service: Roy Chapman Andrews Society board of directors; mentor, Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy.

Elected posts: None

Major campaign issues: Elliott wants to add transparency to county government and increase public input. He also wants to strengthen the connections between the layers of government in the county and make sure that land use planning takes the “long view.”

Additional goals include strengthening emergency services and preparedness; improving community health and reconsidering the county administrator selection process.

RICK RICHARD (I)

Age: 47

Address: 5733 N. County F, Janesville.

Job: Co-owner, Employee Recruiting Firm

Education: Bachelor's degree, UW-Platteville;  master's degree, Central Michigan University.

Community service: Appointed to the Rock County Board in April 2013, serves on the public works committee, veterans and aging services committee and Arrowhead Library Board; Friends of Riverside Park.

Elected posts: None

Major campaign issues: Richard said there are a variety of issues facing the area, including jobs, the poor condition of roads, farmland preservation and picking a new county administrator.

“We need to avoid rubber stamping extra expenses which result in property tax increases,” Richard said.

Richard said he voted “no” on the most recent tax increase.

DISTRICT 16

JASON DOWD

Age: 43

Address: 523 Moore St., Beloit.

Job: Customer Relations Specialist II, Mercy Health System.

Education: Parker High School; Blackhawk Technical College, graduate of the nursing assistant program; University of Phoenix, studying health care administration.

Community service: Dowd has served on more than six city and school district committees. He has also been active at St. Patrick's Church and School, Janesville as a coach, athletic director, religious education teacher and retreat facilitator.

Elected posts: None

Major campaign issues: Dowd wants to improve the understanding of the role of county government and increase citizen participation.

 Dowd also said he wants to improve services for residents.

 “With the opportunity to choose a new administrator, the board should evaluate committees and size of the board,” Dowd said.

PHILLIP O. OWENS JR. (I)

Age: 76

Address: 726 Hackett St., Beloit

Job: Retired. In the military for 32 years, small business owner.

Education: Madison Business College, training with the U.S. Army and Navy.

Community service: Past president of Beloit Evening Lions Club, co-founder of Citizen for Better Beloit.

Elected posts: Three terms on Rock County Board, chairman of general services committee, serves on planning and development and human services committees.

Major campaign issues: Owens points to his work with the juvenile justice division, helping improving morale and overall system success. Owens wants to see the board continue to be a nonpartisan body where supervisors serve the citizens and not a party.

DISTRICT 20

WESLEY DAVIS

Age: 67

Address: 4210 Castlmoor Drive, Janesville.

Job: Retired teacher, homebound teacher for Janesville School District for past six years.

Education: Bachelor's degree, secondary education; master's degree, teaching; post-master's degree work at UW-Madison and Cardinal Stritch University.

Community service: Janesville Cable Advisory Commission, AARP advocate.

Elected posts: None

Major campaign issues: Davis describes himself as a watchdog.

“We need to carefully monitor private contracts to assure we receive maximum benefit. We must avoid huge cost overruns as in the recent Rock Haven project, which went millions over budget with a six-month delay,” Davis said.

Davis also thinks that the board should consider reducing its size.

MIKE RUNDLE (I)

Age: 47

Address: 4019 Orion Drive, Janesville.

Job: Part-time community service specialist at the Janesville Police Department

Education: Associate degree in fire science, Madison Area Technical College; bachelor's degree in environmental management, Columbia Southern University.

Community service: South Central Wisconsin Chapter of the American Red Cross board of directors.

Elected posts: Janesville School Board, 2001-06; Rock County Board, June 2012-present.

Major campaign issues: Funding for the fairgrounds if they are moved to another location.

DISTRICT 22

YURI RASHKIN

Age: 38

Address: 3420 Midvale Drive, No. 2, Janesville.

Job: Musician, court interpreter, university lecturer and social media manager.

Education: Master's degree in mass communication, UW-Whitewater; bachelor's degree in musical composition, University of Utah.

Community service: President of United Arts Alliance; Janesville Noon Lions; alternate on the committee placement committee. The committee determines who serves on the city's many citizen committees.

Elected posts: Janesville City Council, 2008-12.

Major campaign issues: Rashkin said he wants to bring new ideas and visibility to the board.

One way to raise the public's knowledge of what the board does is to televise the meetings, Rashkin said.

Rashkin was on the Janesville City Council when it hired Eric Levitt as city manager, and he believes that experience would be useful in picking the new county administrator.

 “We want a new county administrator who has respect for the organization and the taxpayers,” Rashkin said.

J. RUSSELL PODZILNI (I)

Age: Declined

Job: Retired. Previously president and owner of Janesville Printing Company.

Address: 1421 Laramie Lane, Janesville.

Education: Bachelor's degree in finance, Lawrence University.

Community service: United Way board, past president of the YWCA board, Rock County jury commissioner, Wisconsin Counties Association board.

Elected posts: 14 years on the Rock County Board, currently is board chairman.

Major campaign issues: Podzilni pointed to his accomplishments while serving on the board. As board chairman, he worked with the sheriff's department to reduce jail crowding. The implementation of in-home monitoring reduced the jail population, eliminating the need for a new jail that would have cost an estimated $50 million.

Podzilni said he was an “early and vocal champion of the $10 million expansion of the UW-Rock County campus” while keeping a “keen eye on taxpayers' expenditures.” The expansion was funded through sales tax receipts instead of debt financing, which helped save “county residents hundreds of thousand s of dollars in unnecessary interest payments.”



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