The three candidates on the Feb. 18 for Aldermanic District 4 primary have differing opinions on how to revitalize downtown. The polling location for the District 4 primary will be in City Hall, 106 Jones St.
Candidates Daniel Bartz, James Braughler and Julia Tobin all agreed that revitalization of the downtown as well as city as a whole is one of the top priorities for the city moving forward. Voters will choose one candidate and the top two vote getters will face off April 7.
Although revitalization was significant, each had a unique perspective on the best way to handle it, from revamping the downtown look, broadening the focus to the entire city or bringing in businesses that are desirable for individuals and families.
Each aldermanic position is a two-year term and each alderperson will be paid $5,194 a year beginning April 21.
Incumbent Kurt Larsen will not for re-election due to being term-limited.
Daniel Bartz, 611 S. Fifth St., is married to his wife Vicki and fathered three children and is the grandfather to four grandchildren. Bartz and his wife have lived in their home in District 4 for almost 38 years.
Upon graduating Watertown High School, Bartz served in the U.S. Air Force, where he was stationed in San Antonio, Texas and Ramstein, Germany. Following his service, Bartz returned to Watertown, and he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in management of computer systems from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he also met Vicki, a WHS and UW-W graduate herself. Bartz retired from General Electric Healthcare in Waukesha after 32 years in 2016 and will now have ample time to be an alderman. Bartz does not have any previous political experience.
Bartz’s statement of candidacy is as follows:
“As a lifelong resident of Watertown, I am pleased to call this community my home. My wife Vicki and I have lived in our historic home in the fourth district for almost 38 years and proudly raised our children here. We’ve fished in the river, played in the parks, shopped in the stores, and attended church. We feel blessed that our children have decided to raise their families in the community.
“Like other communities in Wisconsin, Watertown has its challenges. With challenges comes opportunity. As the fourth district alderman, I will work with our mayor and the city council to insure Watertown remains a great place to live, work, do business, and raise a family.”
Bartz said he differs from his opponents as Watertown has been his home town from day one. Although he admitted it doesn’t make him any smarter than his opponents, he said it does give him a sense of responsibility and caring for the community he wants to succeed for every family that has chosen to call Watertown their home, he said. Bartz said he believes the library expansion and town square are important steps to the revitalization of downtown, but work still needs to be done to find a solution of the empty buildings on Main Street, as they are important to Watertown’s future success. He also said the biggest issue in Watertown is the lack of occupants in many buildings throughout the city, not just downtown, including the old Shopko and Sprecher’s restaurant buildings. For Watertown to move forward, there needs to be a healthy balance of businesses that share the interests of growing the community, he said.
James Braughler, 812 Cole St., came to Watertown as a freshman at Maranatha Baptist Bible College (now University), where he graduated with a bachelor’s in Bible and secondary education with minors in music and English before achieving a master’s at the graduate school. Braughler then accepted a a teaching position at Maranatha Baptist Academy, where he has held a some role since 1981. In addition, Braughler has taken additional graduate work in library and information science and government.
While a citizen of Watertown, Braughler has been an active member in the community, holding positions and offices of responsibility in the Watertown Municipal Band, Watertown Historical Society, Community Development Authority/Watertown Housing Authority, Fourth of July Parade Commission as well as writing articles for the Daily Times during the Wisconsin Sesquicentennial celebration and the singing for the Memorial Day Bridge ceremony.
Braughler also has some political experience, having served one term on the Watertown common council before serving five terms on the Jefferson County Board. While on the county board, Braughler gained experience by serving on numerous boards and committees, including finance, administration and rules/executive council and strategic planning, among others. Braughler also speaks at state and regional educators’ conventions annually and spends a week every summer leading at the AACS National Youth Legislative Training conference, which he has done the past 10 years.
Braughler’s statement of candidacy is as follows:
“As a lifelong adult resident of Watertown, I believe I bring the skills and experiences to help guide Watertown into the future and that is why I am running for alder of the forth district. With my varied background of education, library work, civic involvement and years of service in county government, I would bring a very broad and diverse palate to the Watertown City Council.
“Even as I serve on the Jefferson County Board, I have made it my business to remain active and aware of the goings-on in Watertown, attending city council meetings, citizen information sessions and chats with our wonderful people who have also chosen to make Watertown their home. My daily walk takes me up and down the Main street of Watertown, where I see blooming businesses and empty storefronts, pristine buildings and buildings in need of some tender love and care, as well as active parks and needy sites.
“I see the main issues of moving Watertown in the future while maintaining a sense of our rich and wonderful past; the two truly can work together. But at the same time things must be maintained and cared for: roads, parks, infrastructure and the many great opportunities already present in Watertown.
“All while trimming and adjusting the budget to reflect the needs and wants of Watertown as I own a home in Jefferson County and a rental in Dodge so I am very conscious of the taxes and fees; I pay them just like everyone else and I want to see them kept in check. I believe my position on the county board and the city council can help these two governmental bodies work together to help every resident of Watertown.”
Braughler said he believes the thing that makes him different from his opponents is he brings a mix of blue-collar upbringing and a traditional white-collar education. This coupled with his experiences in his teachings roles for all ages and time on the county board have helped him to learn how to talk to people and work on a team and be able to ask the hard questions and carefully coming to a conclusion, he said.
Braughler said downtown revitalization is not an overnight process and believes in order to move forward the city must think outside the box and consider new ways to use traditional streetscapes and structures. He said that buildings will need to come down as the area would not survive with its current parking limits. He also said that the river must be put to greater use to attract both residents and non-residents to the downtown region.
Braughler believes Watertown’s biggest challenge is to get residents out in the community and putting them into action for the city. He said by doing this, the city can take community ideas and skills to help put its best foot forward.
Juliana Tobin, 308 S. 9th St., moved to Watertown in April 2016. She was married for 12 years before a car accident took the life of her husband in 2009. She is now a single mother raising three children who all love Watertown and all it has to offer.
Tobin, in college, majored in secondary education-English before switching to accounting and business. Out of college, Tobin has been instructing middle and high school students in drama and acting and enjoys investing in others’ lives and helping them learn new skills.
Tobin’s statement of candidacy is as follows:
“My name is Juliana Tobin. I am seeking the city council alderperson position in District 4 of the city of Watertown.
“I understand the importance of listening to people. If elected, I will make myself available to serve and follow up on issues and problems. I am motivated and energetic and desire to give back to the community. I love Watertown. I want to be dedicated to keeping our city safe and positive for our future, children, and families. This city is my home and I want Watertown, Wisconsin to continue to be a great place to live.
“I understand the need to work hard as a team on the council and to work hand in hand with Mayor (Emily) McFarland and the other council members in order to achieve this goal. I am open to the challenge and would love the opportunity to serve District 4 and the city of Watertown.”
Tobin said she differs from her opponents because she is a fresh voice for citizens in District 4 and she would love the opportunity to serve the community in this capacity for the first time. Tobin said she thinks the current revitalization projects for the downtown are phenomenal for the city and she thinks the progress is exciting and knows revitalization is a big task, but is hopeful to help on a governmental level as she has as a citizen. Tobin also sees the biggest issue in Watertown being two-fold, the need to grow the city by bringing new, successful businesses in while also being thoroughly dedicated to the safety of families and children. These will help bring more people to want to come and live in the city, she said.