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Brodhead mayor faces challenger
BRODHEAD - While the races for a county and council seat lack candidates, former city council member Tim Stocks is challenging longtime Brodhead Mayor Doug Pinnow.

Pinnow has been mayor for 14 years, beginning his first two-year term in 2004. Stocks said people see a lack of transparency in city government under Pinnow's leadership. A questionable plan to develop a large building into a senior and community center has also brokered a lack of trust by residents, he said.

"I'm a very transparent person," Stocks said. "That's something I think this administration is not."

Stocks said last-minute meeting cancellations and a lack of willingness to use social media have contributed to public distrust. He referred to the physical posting of meetings as insufficient but indicated city staff do well by placing minutes and agendas on the official website.

Pinnow denounced the claims.

"We're never going to do everything right, but at least we try," Pinnow said. "The people who are the naysayers are the people who aren't involved in anything."

A major focus of his campaign has been to "keep moving forward," and focus on city economic development of Brodhead, Pinnow said, referencing a recently completed hotel feasibility study and 20 steps city staff expect to bolster tourism. Pinnow has worked with the Green County ATV Club to establish an ATV route through the city and said ongoing improvements to the Pearl Island Recreational Corridor help Brodhead.

At least one proposed plan for development has received a lukewarm welcome. Stocks said the feeling of non-transparency has been fueled by a proposal to develop an 18-year-old building owned by local retired dentist Julio Rodriguez on the south side of the city in the 800 block of 23rd Street as the Brodhead Senior/Community Center. A 10-member committee has been working with design and architecture company Keller Inc. since July 2016 to create a floorplan for the two-level building.

The more than 14,000-square-foot building has too much space to serve as a community building, especially a senior center, Stocks said. He noted people have a "fearfulness" of the idea due to its possible cost. Stocks said by his observation roughly five people use the current center each day.

Pinnow serves on the committee. He said about 20 people use the senior center on a daily basis.

"Our senior center is small and inadequate," Pinnow said.

He added that the city has applied for a $500,000 matching grant through the state Community Development Block Grant, noting that fundraising is underway but will likely not fund the full project. The amount raised is currently being computed, he said, which is why the total cost to develop the facility has not yet been made public. If the money cannot be compiled through grants and donations, Pinnow said a referendum would be required to ask voters whether the city would pay the difference for the remaining cost of the project.

Stocks said he would stop all negotiations over the building until a vote can be made by residents. Part of his campaign aims to address infrastructure problems instead. He noted city roads are in need of attention.

"They're just in very, very poor shape," Stocks said. "They haven't been maintained for many years. The first thing I was told that bothers a lot of people is the way our current administration is running the budget."

Stocks was chosen as one of two walk-on council candidates after former alderman Hubert Vickers died in the middle of a term in 2014. Stocks served for one year before stepping down.

Council member Paul Huffman decided not to seek re-election in the upcoming April 3 election, leaving the at-large spot open. Brodhead City Clerk Teresa Withee said there are currently no registered candidates on the ballot.

There is also a vacant seat at the county level. District 19, which is one of three that represents Brodhead, has no candidate.

Green County Clerk Mike Doyle collected names of supervisor candidates, but one spot remained open. Former Supervisor Ron Wolter stepped down in August. Since then, Doyle said both before and after the deadline to file registration papers he and others have been trying to identify a person to run for the seat, but no one has been found.

Because it is empty, Doyle said the person with the most write-ins will win the seat. If that person declines, the replacement will be appointed by Green County Board Chair Art Carter.