Letters to the editor, March 18 | McFarland Thistle – HNGnews.com


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We’re writing in support of Nancy Moore for re-election to the Monona City Council on April 6th.

We’ve lived in Monona for 21 years. Like a majority of residents, we don’t sit on City committees or spend time watching City meetings. But we have spent a bundle of time with Nancy – at park events, City festivals, live music shows in Madison, or over a backyard dinner or fire.

While we are not be immersed in City business, the first thing we want people to know is that Nancy IS. Whether we’re discussing COVID, sustainability, our taxes, development, social justice and equity, her vision for the City Center, San Damiano, or just about everything in between, it’s clear Nancy does her homework, knows her stuff, and is happy to dive into the topic. She listens, asks the right questions, answers our questions, and is thoughtful. And if she doesn’t know, she says so, and digs to find out. Or connect us to someone who will.

Second, Nancy actually enjoys tackling big issues. She just sees challenges as opportunities; has a positive, ‘can-do’ attitude. One hundred percent clean energy? Let’s do it. As an environmentalist, she knows it’s not optional. And since she’s had her house sandbagged, she’s experienced the effects of climate change first hand. When the prospect of losing San Damiano came up, she said the lake should belong to all of us instead of a wealthy few. And she was undaunted and determined to find a financially sustainable way to save it, without saddling us with debt. She’s still at it and probably will be for years. But she’s been joined by hundreds (and growing) who are giving and raising money so it’s far less of a lift for all Monona residents. Immediately after the June 2nd incident on Arrowhead, she wrote on Nextdoor about the need for systemic change, and even got ripped by some residents for it. But she’s been leading the charge with a diverse group of residents ever since, advocating for a permanent commission to tackle social justice and equity systemically.

We wish she had more time to hang out; we really like her patio. But in the meantime, we feel lucky to have her leadership in the City Council and we think you should too. Vote for Nancy on April 6th.

Natalie and Pat Kellogg


To the Editor:

The word “incumbent” has been unfairly disparaged in our current election. In the case of Mayor Mary O’Connor, “incumbent” means “integrity,” “sound economics,” “dedication to community,” and “building for the future.”

Mary O’Connor is a champion of Monona, and she leads with integrity. She has enhanced our economic strength as Mayor through completion of the Riverfront Project and responsible budgeting that has maintained Monona’s AA+ bond rating. As a member of the City Council before that, she supported the redevelopment of Monona Drive and Broadway, the installation of solar panels on city buildings that have saved us tens of thousands of dollars in energy costs, and the launching of our own Voice of Monona, WVMO (98.7 FM), the best little station in the nation. These are just a few of the improvements Mary has been instrumental in bringing to Monona.

Mayor O’Connor has enhanced our community’s “livability” through her dedication to Monona Public Library support, Parks and Recreation support, Public Safety improvements, and the purchase of the San Damiano property, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the City to manage development of its impressive lakefront.

Mayor O’Connor is a thorough and thoughtful leader who brings her impressive intellect to bear on complex issues, such as equity and inclusiveness shortcomings in our community. Yes, we have shortcomings, but Mayor O’Connor is dedicated to improvement—improvement of our systems, our policies, and our practices—so that Monona government is even more responsive to the needs of all Monona community members.

Mayor O’Connor is determined to lead Monona to sustainability, and she has taken steps forward toward that end. She has restarted the Renew Monona program to allow homeowners low-interest loans to make improvements to their homes, making Monona an even more attractive family community. She has acted to keep our lakefront clean and desirable and to reduce flooding. She has overseen improvements for pedestrian and bicycle safety and enjoyment. She is “all in” on sustainability.

As you think of the reasons you love Monona (it’s a wonderful community in which to live, to raise a family, to make friends, to work, and to grow old), you will recognize the value of Mary O’Connor’s leadership (in her varied community service, as a City Council member, and as Mayor). She gets things done right.

Mary O’Connor is just the leader Monona needs for now and for our future.

Todd Stebbins


Dear Editor,

We are writing to encourage those living in the McFarland School District to vote for Bruce Fischer for School Board. We have known and admired Bruce for decades. As a parent, teacher, coach, community volunteer and all-around great person, Bruce is an ideal candidate for the McFarland School Board. He is thoughtful, knowledgeable, dedicated and has excellent communication skills. Bruce knows and understands McFarland Schools, students, parents, support staff, teachers and curriculum. Now that he is retired, he also understands the concerns of those who no longer have children in the McFarland School system. We are so pleased to live in a community that values education and we are pleased to support Bruce Fischer who is a perfect fit for our community.

Wes and Jane Licht

Town of Dunn – McFarland School District

Our thanks to Monona city officials and volunteers coordinating the effort to acquire the San Damiano lakeshore property for public use. It’s taken vision and at times political courage to support the benefits to our community that will be gained for us and generations to come by this now-or-never opportunity.

The current debate calls to mind, on a larger scale, the early 1900s struggle to maintain Chicago’s Grant Park on Lake Michigan free of private development. Montgomery Ward, the Chicago catalog merchant, and his fellow advocates for public use prevailed. Today Grant Park is widely recognized as a near priceless treasure for all of Chicago’s residents.

When we decided to move to the Madison area eleven years ago, our realtor told us that Monona is a special place to live. We’ve since learned how true that is and wish it to continue to be so. We support the city’s efforts to make this beautiful property of lakefront and nature open for all Monona’s residents to enjoy.

Charlie and Vicky Talbert


I write to urge voters to keep Kathy Thomas on the Monona City Council. In Kathy’s years of service on the Council, she has developed an informed expertise that make her continued leadership a valuable asset for all of us. Her commitment to the City of Monona is powerful, and she remains tireless in her work on our behalf. She may be the first person I heard describe Monona as the “best kept secret in Dane County,” and she sees the value in letting others in on that secret. Kathy works to continue to attract families and businesses to our city as well as to maintain our roads, facilities, and services.

She has chaired many major city committees over the years, served as Council president, and has been a member of almost all other city committees. Her leadership experience goes beyond Council work to include leading fund raising for the Monona Library expansion and Dream Park construction, as well as chairing Monona’s 75th Anniversary Celebration Committee, and service on too many other community and school district committees and organizations to list here. She’s always quick to volunteer for events and I can attest personally to her efforts to get others to do the same.

All of this experience gives her an in-depth knowledge of Monona as a community as well as of city operations. She is accessible and a good listener; just pick up the phone and call or send her an e-mail, and you’ll get a response and appropriate follow-up. She understands Council and committee process, knows her role as a Council member, collaborates effectively with her Council colleagues, and not only gets things done, but assists others in presenting issues for possible committee or Council action.

Kathy cites the people who live in Monona as a huge part of what makes it such a great place to live and raise kids. We’re lucky to be the beneficiaries of her expertise, dedication, and continued work on our behalf. I hope you’ll join me in supporting and voting for Kathy Thomas on April 6.


Susan Fox


I am pleased to endorse Nancy Moore for re-election to the Monona City Council.

I have had the opportunity to work with Nancy over the last two years as a member of the City’s Plan Commission. Nancy’s willingness to share her passion and tireless energy makes our community stronger. She has established connections throughout the community as a result of her genuine interest in making our City a better place. She is an effective leader who is willing to take the time to study the issues and gather input to guide decision-making. Nancy understands what it takes to navigate through complicated processes to obtain results. This is shown by her leadership on many of the projects that are of critical importance to our community right now, including the San Damiano project.

Nancy is a respectful collaborator and her leadership as an Alder and as the chair of the Commission is steady and effective. Nancy’s civic and professional experience give her a skill set and perspective that is invaluable for tackling the unique challenges facing our community. The City of Monona is stronger because of Nancy’s commitment to our community and her leadership on the Council.

Please remember to vote on April 6th!

Coreen Fallat


The vacant 10 acre property was purchased at a cost of $8.6 million. At 10 acres, the per acre cost is $860,000.

If funds can be raised to cover 50% of cost, the per acre cost is reduced to $430,000. Even at 50%, this property is priced at an amazing level. The per acre cost is near that of Chicago. Certainly not for a local city park when a larger similar facility is 1.4 miles away.

If the remaining cost of $4,300,000 was financed with debt, each man, woman and child would be responsible to pay $524 (plus interest and the cost to improve land) in their city tax bills over a period of time. Because of the Broadway commercial development, the city already at 80% of the state law limit.

After public input and studies: alternatives include carefully zoned condos and apartments. Monona cannot afford to finance between $430 and $860,000 per acre of vacant land.

Jim Hoelzel


After watching the Monona Mayoral and City Council forums, I am quite concerned. In my 40+ years in Monona, including 20 years on the Parks and Recreation Board, I have never seen an election like this, where the incumbents have been attacked with so much vitriol, with accusations that are completely unfounded and false, even after the challengers have had the facts explained to them. None of the challengers have ever served on Monona’s boards, committees or commissions (one has served on City Council since May 2020), while the incumbents have had years of experience serving and volunteering in Monona. Due to the leadership of Mary O’Connor, Nancy Moore, Kathy Thomas and Doug Wood, Monona has, among other things: Maintained its AA+ bond rating, expanded the tax base in a landlocked community with TIF districts, supported its wonderful park system, and secured the purchase of the San Damiano property, which will be a jewel in Monona for decades to come. They have served collegially and collaboratively; I am afraid this will change if the challengers are elected. I strongly urge Monona residents to support Mary, Nancy, Kathy and Doug on April 6.

Karen Turino


I hear that some want to increase our tax base and build condos in this area. No worse use for this property could be imagined. As a life long resident of Monona I say enough is enough. Forget special interests and use the park for the benefit of all. We already have a few new monstrosities being built on the corner of Bridge Rd and the Beltline which will only increase the traffic through Monona. This place is a treasure and should be available to all not just those wealthy enough to afford living there

Richard Nawratil


I recently watched the candidate forums for the Monona city council and mayoral elections, and I have to say I was shocked at the vitriol and the accusatory, hostile tone of some of the candidates, who seemed to be insinuating that the current city government is some kind of nefarious cabal of crooks. Honestly, haven’t we had enough of this type of campaigning over the past four years? Can you not present your ideas without disparaging others? And why on earth would you insult the very people you would be called to cooperate with should you win your election? How do you think that’s going to work out? Some of the comments were so outlandish (i.e. the same people have been in office since forever, the city is in terrible financial shape, etc.) that I checked out their veracity, and sure enough, they were not true. I find it so distressing that this kind of toxicity in our political discourse has seeped down to the local level. I want to trust my local candidates, not be forced to fact-check them.

Specifically, many of the comments these candidates made about the recent decision to purchase San Damiano gave me chills. I had been so happy to hear that the city intends to take over this property, which is a natural treasure that should be preserved, and the sneering attitude toward this purchase made me fear for the fate of the entire project. So you folks criticizing the process of the San Damiano purchase, know that your attitude really turned me off.

Finally, I might note that the comment by one mayoral candidate that “governing Monona” would be “fun” raised alarm bells for me. I’m not looking for a candidate who wants to have fun, I’m looking for a candidate who is qualified, competent, and collaborative. And I’m not seeing it.

So if you’ve got new, fresh ideas, good for you! Tell us about them. Do it without accusing hard-working public servants of dishonesty and backroom deals. Do it without complaining that you’ve been treated unfairly. Win on your merits and your capabilities. Try to win me over next time, because this time you really lost me.

Sylvia Gilbertson


Doug Wood’s contributions as a member of the Monona City Council to good governance and the quality of life we enjoy is Monona are tremendous. Doug is committed to public service: he is on the council for the sole purpose of contributing to the city and its residents. He brings experience and deep knowledge of how the city works, the capacity to ask good questions and dig deeply into complex issues, good judgment, and the collegiality that is necessary for an elected body to work effectively.

His values reflect our community’s values: Responsible and fiscally prudent progressive government. Doug has been a leader in securing and maintaining the city’s excellent AA+ bond rating, which saves money for all taxpayers.

Doug believes in reinvesting in our community to make Monona an even better place to live. His involvement and leadership have been crucial in the in the acquisition and preservation of the San Damiano property. He understands that this critical property will benefit the community, and that present and future generations will enjoy and value that area.

Doug’s efforts to help Monona become a more walkable and bikeable community have helped Monona become an even better community in which to raise a family.

I had the honor of serving with Doug on the Monona City Council in the first decade of the 2000’s. His level-headed common sense and moderation taught me a great deal about effective city governance. He is not involved in city government to call attention to himself or to make headlines, but instead to improve our community as an attractive place to live. He has done just that.

I urge readers to vote for Doug Wood for the Monona City Council.

Peter McKeever

Former Monona Alder

On April 6th we will be casting our vote for Mayor Mary O’Connor and Alderperson Kathy Thomas. They are both well experienced and longtime Monona residents that have shown their commitment to public service and doing what’s right for Monona. Listening to all sides of the issues and making determinations with well thought out decisions, by working together with the people serving on Monona council, committees and the citizens. They have done a great job with some of Monona’s largest and complex projects and taking the future of our community forward.

Recently a letter in the paper suggested that the San Damiano land should be developed as apartments/condos. We believe this land has much more value than turning it into a concrete dense development. This pristine land is a future asset for all, with access to woods and the lake. There is no better way to learn about the value of nature and its benefits than to experience it. Go to the woods and lake, it will nourish your soul. We should place our focus on the areas that are already developed and need to be repurposed i.e. Shopko, several properties on Monona Drive and Broadway for development of condos/apartments and restaurants.

We believe that the city of Monona has done an outstanding job by simply respecting our land and water resources, that’s what makes this City so valuable.

Billy and Deb Noltner


My name is Jeff Lennberg and I’ve been a Village of Cottage Grove Trustee for two terms now. In my time as a Village of Cottage Grove Trustee, I have primarily focused on progress and growing Cottage Grove as a community. There are new established neighborhoods, expansive commercial development, new TID’s established in order to attract more companies and several new restaurants in the Village of Cottage Grove. In addition, our parks are expanding, there are more opportunities for families to spend time together within the Village and more places for our Village residents to find entertainment. It has been my honor to serve on the Village of Cottage Grove Board of Trustees, achieving many of the goals I had set out to accomplish.

I have particularly enjoyed working with Heidi Murphy and Sarah Valencia. Due to time commitments, I am unable to run for a third term. I am confident Heidi and Sarah will continue the incredible work we’ve accomplished as members of the Village Board of Trustees. In addition to endorsing incumbents Heidi Murphy and Sarah Valencia, I am fully endorsing Dave Peterson for Village Board Trustee. I firmly believe you cannot find more dedicated , thorough and goal driven candidates to move Cottage Grove forward. David, Heidi and Sarah are focused on progress, creating safe neighborhoods, attracting new commercial businesses and growing the Village of Cottage Grove in a sensible way. As a Village resident, I am very excited for the future, especially with these three candidates working together.

If you want to see a thriving, safe and growing Village of Cottage Grove, I encourage you to vote for David Peterson, Heidi Murphy and Sarah Valencia.


Jeffrey C. Lennberg

Village of Cottage Grove trustee

As a Monona resident, current Alder on the Monona City Council, and co-chair both of the Sustainability Committee and the Parks and Recreation Board, I write to recommend both Nancy Moore and Doug Wood for reelection to the City Council on April 6.

Since joining the Council in 2017, Alder Moore has championed a number of meaningful resolutions and legislative initiatives in our community, including the city’s recent purchase of the San Damiano property and the master plan for its restoration and public recreational use; the city’s commitment to achieving 100% clean energy by 2050; and the approval and design of Grand Crossing Park. She helped initiate and remains at the forefront of the city’s efforts to communicate more frequently and transparently with its residents. Additionally, she has advocated for the reform and implementation of the Monona Police Department’s policies and conduct codes and has helped guide thoughtful conversation and engagement related to the amplification of cultural and economic diversity in Monona. One of my proudest moments on the Council was working with Alders Moore and Kuhr on a collaborative effort with the Dane County Board of Supervisors in 2019 to change the name of Lake Monona’s southern bay to “Wiicawak.”

Alder Wood is an experienced, objective leader who in his many years of service to Monona has spearheaded meaningful projects related to parks and facilities improvements, sustainability initiatives, and the promotion of increased attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion in city government and the community at large. He has prioritized pedestrian and cyclist safety, contributed to the acquisition and preservation of San Damiano – a “dream come true” – and worked dedicatedly to build the city’s “rainy day fund” and preserve its excellent AA+ bond rating. He strives to reinvest in the community and do the work necessary to make Monona a more accessible and welcoming place to live. Alder Wood’s progressive and environmentally conscious values are those which I share and strive to emulate as a fellow member of the Council.

I proudly support Alders Wood and Moore for reelection to the Council and encourage the community to join me in voting for them on April 6.

Molly Grupe

Monona city councilor

Monona is lucky to have honest, progressive leaders. First, Mary O’Connor is the most ethical and transparent mayor I can recall, and I say this with no disrespect to her predecessors. Her efforts are greatly enhanced by the tireless work of Doug Wood, who is thoughtful, respectful, patient, and effective as an Alder. His advocacy for parks, the library, and pedestrian safety are second to none. More recently, Nancy Moore joined the council, bringing a passion for environmental stewardship, and stricter requirements for TIF grants. With Alder Wood, she has championed the acquisition of San Damiano, which has the potential to become one of the finest lakeshore parks on the east side. Kathy Thomas is the longest serving official in Monona history, and she has certainly done many good things. Recently, I have been particularly impressed by her leadership in seeking police reform and in tackling the longstanding issues of racial and economic inequity in our city. I will confess, I was open to supporting a new progressive voice, but no longer.

Monona has clear policies which uphold ethics and accountability. Recent actions by alders and the mayor have all complied with these standards. If a citizen is not paying attention, and then suddenly realizes that elected leaders have been strategizing for over ten years to acquire San Damiano if possible, that’s not a cover up. Read the paper. Go to a meeting. Ask any city leader. As for debt, Monona has earned its AA+ bond rating by being responsible. The current elected leaders are responsible and should be rewarded for these accomplishments.

I am appalled and upset by the dishonest campaigns that have descended on our city. The truth is that the challengers do not have legitimate criticisms, so they manufacture conspiracies. I guess we should have known that pizza peddlers and conspiracies go hand in hand. I also know that only one candidate in this race has been convicted previously of defamation, in 2005. The details are sordid, just like the spurious claims being tossed around in the recent debates. I told Mr. DePula that he needed to apologize for smearing people with inuendo, but he has no more remorse now than he did in 2005. Ironically, Alder Goforth wants all city committee meetings to be televised, again, suggesting that there is corruption in Monona. Well, if you ask committee members about character and respect, you might be surprised to learn how little respect Ms. Goforth shows to city volunteers. If we spend the money to televise these public meetings, I doubt Ms. Goforth will have much of a political career.

How we treat one another matters. When I was younger and new to politics, I said some things I regretted. And I apologized for my mistakes. I admire character and honesty, and so do the voters of Monona. I am glad we are having a competitive election. I welcome a debate about the direction of the city, and we do have much to do and to improve. I enthusiastically endorse the four incumbents for office because they have earned that support.

Chad Speight

Former Monona city councilor

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