Will national groundhog attention overshadow Sun Prairie mayoral election?

Will national groundhog attention overshadow Sun Prairie mayoral election?

While much more of the world now knows about Sun Prairie and Mayor Jon Freund, thanks to groundhog Jimmy taking a bite out of his ear, Freund’s opponents say name recognition will not matter as much as the issues facing the city come Tuesday’s primary election.

“While it’s not the total focus of our conversation as we go door to door, people certainly recognize who I am. And that’s a good thing,” Freund said.  “You go up to the door, and they ask, ‘How’s your ear?’ And then we’re able to talk about issues that are really important to Sun Prairie.  Public safety. Economic development.”

It’s that economic development that Freund, who was appointed last May after eight years on the city council, says will continue to be his top priority if he continues serving past April.

“And trying to make sure the city grows in a good way.  Making sure we have a good balance of residential and particularly commercial growth,” Freund said.  “A new Marcus Theater, Cabela’s opening in the next couple of months, all these just happened. So we have a lot of great things happening on the west side.”

However, Dane County board member and former Sun Prairie City Council president Bill Clausius believes city hall is lacking leadership, citing what he calls a lack of development along West Main Street, which he feels could hurt neighborhoods.  Clausius says he’d like to see a strategic development plan.

“So you have appropriate things like mixed use housing, small retail. Maybe a Whole Foods grocery on Main Street. That sort of thing. I really think the city’s ready for it,” Clausius said. “If you don’t pay attention to that corridor, the neighborhood surrounding it could deteriorate. And that’s not what we want for the core of our city.”

Former Sun Prairie Mayor Paul Esser says he wants the job again – because no one is talking about the city’s long-term economy, diversity and transportation.

“What I’m talking about is how to build this into a better community. A better place,” Esser said.  “I’m talking about linking us to Madison, to the bus system, developing a park and ride so you can conveniently get there.”

Three very different candidates focused on three different priorities which they hope voters will study carefully instead of a groundhog’s ear bite foreshadowing election results.

“People laugh about it. But I don’t think that translates into votes,” Clausius said.  “If they’re concerned about the community, they don’t worry about the groundhog. They worry about whether their streets are being repaired and whether the garbage is being picked up.”

“I don’t know if that carries a whole lot of weight going into the election,” Esser said.  “I think that gets his name out. Maybe it helps him in that regard.”

“It certainly has gone viral,” Freund said.  “And that was certainly an advantage for my campaign.”

The top two winners of Tuesday’s primary election will face each other in the April 7 general election.  

Candidate Webpages:

Bill Clausius: http://www.billclausius.com/

Paul Esser: http://paulesserforsunprairie.com/

Mayor Jon Freund: https://www.facebook.com/mayorjonfreund