JANESVILLE — Six candidates for the Janesville City Council laid out their positions Thursday evening on what they say are the most pressing issues facing the community.

Candidates included Aaron Burdick (incumbent), Paul Williams (incumbent), Larry Squire, Josh Erdman, Mathew Gonzalez and Billy Ray McCoy.

Voters will choose three of the six when they go to the polls on April 2, 2024.

The forum, held at UW-Whitewater Rock County, was sponsored by the Rock County Civics Academy.


The lack of housing in the community and economic developement weaved their way through the discussion.

Aaron Burdick, a commander with the Rock County Sheriff’s Office finishing up his first term on the council, says he spent his first term building relationships and says he’ll be even more effective in a second term.

“I believe in the city, that’s why I started doing this in the first place,” Burdick said.

Burdick says he’s talked with city administration recently about what projects would be possible on the city’s south side.

Paul Williams, a longtime council member, said he’s running again because he wants to continue to work on some of the projects that have recently begun. Although he didn’t vote for it, he said he wants to make sure the Woodman’s Center is successful, and wants to continue to work on downtown and the former GM site.

“You may not always agree me, with the way I vote, but I do listen,” Williams said.

The southside will be a long process, and what the council decides to do with the GM site and the JATCO property will be a huge plus for the southside

Billy Ray McCoy, a longtime community activist, says he’s running because city hall has been ignoring the people on the south side, the far west side and the residents in general.

What he said the city doesn’t need is more warehouses and no more tax incremental financing districts.

“I will probably be dead before they even get paid back,” McCoy said.

McCoy said the problem with southside development is city hall. He said they need housing and a grocery store.

Larry Squire, a retired banker, says we live in a wonderful community at an exciting time.

He said the city is growing and needs to keep moving forward.

“Sitting still and doing nothing is not a postivie solution,” he said.

He said the reconstruction of Center Avenue will be a big deal and that you can’t move the southside forward without solving the GM problem.

Josh Erdman, a firefighter and southside resident, says the No. 1 thing that he wants to happen is that there is complete communication between the city and the citizens.

He says he plans to have his own listening sessions both as a candidate and a council member.

Economic growth and housing go hand-in-hand, he said.

He said the city needs to move forward on zoning changes to help development occur in the southside and other parts of town.

He said there’s lots of potention for housing in the southside and for investiment all along the Center Avenue corridor.

Mathew Gonzalez, an IT professional and southside resident, says an important thing to draw on is a lot of the issues the city is facing are things that couldn’t have been anticipated.

He says the city needs to develop housing that is affordable for everyone.

He said helping the southside would help all of Janesville. The city won’t succeed longterm without all of the city succeeding, he said.

Forum calendar: https://commonsenserockcounty.org/2024/01/20/rock-county-civics-academy-announces-series-of-candidate-forums-ahead-of-spring-2024-election/