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Mayoral race contested, primary set for Feb. 21
Mayor candidates, left to right, David Breunig, John Sonsalla and Larry Burns.

DARLINGTON—Three candidates are vying for the position of mayor in the city of Darlington. A primary election in the city of Darlington will be held on Feb. 21 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Darlington Municipal Building. This will be the first election where voters will be required to present valid photo identification in order to vote.
Incumbent David Breunig has held the position of mayor since 2002. The two challenging Breunig for a two-year term are Larry Burns and John Sonsalla.
David Breunig (i)
Background information
I worked at Lafayette County Co-op Oil Co. in Darlington from 1979-1994, and was general manager from 1981-1994. Since then I have been employed at Lands’ End in Dodgeville and am currently an online customer care representative.
I graduated from Middleton High School in Middleton in 1967 and from WSU-Platteville in 1971 with a degree in agricultural economics.
I was a member of the Darlington Jaycees from 1979-1988 where I held various offices including president, vice president and secretary. I was an EMT for Rural Medical Ambulance for 25 years, from 1983-2007. I am currently a member of the Fayette Sportsman’s Club and since 1988 I have held various offices, including president, vice president, treasurer and currently am secretary; a Wisconsin Conservation Congress delegate for Lafayette County since 1999; a member of the Darlington Canoe Festival; a member of American Legion Post 214 in Darlington; a member of Knights of Columbus of Darlington and a member of Darlington Bowling Association and past secretary.
I am a widower, as my wife Linda died Jan. 9, 2007. Together we had three children: Anita, Charlie and Tracy. Currently we have four grandchildren: Hunter, Caitlyn, Levi and Jacob. Our three children graduated from Darlington High School.

Why are you seeking this position?
There are still things to do yet which only the groundwork has been laid. The economic times have made attracting new businesses pretty hard but there are still other ways to help make our community grow. Piggly Wiggly recently finished expanding and this shows a firm commitment to our community from Piggly Wiggly. Dollar General recently came to Darlington and what an exciting addition this has been. Our Business Park continues to grow, which shows businesses are encouraged with the citizens of Darlington and Lafayette County. Increasing our tourism traffic is also another important tool in continuing to make Darlington look good. (Come to Canoecopia in Madison in March and help us promote Darlington and Lafayette County.)

What makes you a good candidate?
I would bring enthusiasm for the city of Darlington and Lafayette County. I am open to ideas and suggestions and have a willingness to listen. I bring successful business experience and community involvement.

What do you believe are the most important issues facing Darlington?
Increasing our tax base is important by bringing in successful businesses. Keeping our Main Street storefronts full and filling up the Business Park means a successful City of Darlington which makes everyone proud. We can do this by working in conjunction with the Darlington Chamber of Commerce, Darlington Development Corporation and Lafayette Development Corporation. It is not about what I can do but about what WE can do.

What are your interests in city government?
City government is like a business and this is challenging in these economic times. We have to stay modern and still be frugal with the taxpayer’s money.

John Sonsalla
Background information
My primary employment background includes 39 years of combined teaching experience, which consisted of teaching grades seven through 12 earth and life sciences at Darlington, Highland and Mineral Point school districts. In 1999, I was selected to be teacher of the year. I also served eight years, in Darlington, as a coordinator for adult evening classes for Southwest Wisconsin Technical College at Fennimore. Presently I am substitute teaching and drive the adult handicapped Hodan Center bus. And for the past 40 years, I have been Darlington’s city manager for the Wisconsin State Journal.
In addition to teaching, I was a naturalist at Governor Dodge State Park for 12 summers and organized nature hikes and activities for the park. I owned and managed Sonsalla’s Apartments and the Montgomery Ward Catalog Agency in Darlington. Recently I was a sales representative for the Hidden Valleys visitors guide for Lafayette, Green and Grant counties. I continue to volunteer with the Barn Quilts of Lafayette County, Holy Rosary Endowment committee and chair the Fun Night fundraiser for Holy Rosary Church.
I have a bachelor of science in biology, chemistry and driver education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a masters of environmental science from UW-Platteville.
I have been involved in several facets of the Darlington community, including: Darlington City Council (4 years); Darlington/Monroe fourth degree KC’s Faithful Navigator (president); Holy Rosary Knights of Columbus, l970-present; Darlington School Board (17 years); Darlington Cub Scouts, scoutmaster; Darlington Boy Scouts, board member; Darlington Day Care, board member; and Darlington Jaycees, past president.
My wife Phyllis and I moved to Darlington in 1969 when I started my first teaching job. We raised our four children here and are now proud to have nine grandchildren after 43 years of marriage.

Why are you seeking this position?
To keep taxes down while improving our town, continue to provide improved infrastructure and services for Darlington residents. I am retired, so I have the necessary time, experience, commitment and energy to serve on behalf of Darlington’s citizens. Together, we can improve our town by applying for grants, utilizing local volunteers and organizations and attracting businesses to continue the development of our great city.

What makes you a good candidate?
I have the experience and knowledge of being a member of Darlington’s City Council and I understand how to work with groups to achieve positive results that represent the peoples’ viewpoints. I believe we need to review and implement portions of the 2004 City of Darlington Comprehensive Plan. We need to implement the plan by leveraging grant money and tax relief districts to improve the infrastructure, bring in more businesses and revitalize the residential areas of Darlington. This will have the long-term benefit of increased tax revenue by fully utilizing and improving the existing infrastructure.
I have the time, knowledge, organizational skills and experience to implement positive development in Darlington. This will require setting specific goals for business, residential and infrastructure development.  I believe the mayor should be the facilitator for these types of projects.

What do you believe are the most important issues facing Darlington?
The three issues facing Darlington are, first, to continue improving the infrastructure of streets, sidewalks, and utilities; second, to revitalize the existing housing stock by implementing a tax incentive to encourage residents to purchase and remodel older homes; third, to encourage new businesses to locate or expand to Darlington using the tax incentives (TIF) currently in place.

What are your interests in city government?
By working together in the last couple of decades, the citizens of Darlington have made great strides to improve the downtown, create a business district and renew some of the residential areas. We can continue to make improvements by encouraging committees made up of non-elected citizens (whose interests are not about getting elected) working together to make Darlington the Pearl of the Pecatonica!

Larry Burns
Background information
I am married and the father of two children.
I have lived in Darlington for 46 years and have been a self-employed businessman for 38 years. I have been a member of several civic organizations such as Kiwanis, Jaycees, Knights of Columbus as well as former mayor and past county board member.

Why are you seeking this position?
I believe in service to our community.

What do you believe are the most important issues facing Darlington?
I feel we need to get our business community to a more active state, possibly a three-member board to help Suzi Osterday who is doing a wonderful job in promoting our city.
I also feel we need to get our budget back in line. As a businessman I know the hardships that are encountered on a daily basis to live within a budget in order to provide a living in these tough times. I feel these same principles should be applied to our city government.