One of Stoughton’s most prolific volunteers is hoping to turn her community service into a new job -- mayor.
Sharon Mason-Boersma, a retired social worker and a board member of several Stoughton community service organizations, announced Saturday, Oct. 16, her intention to run for the seat next spring.
Holding her announcement at a small downtown park next to the Personal Essentials Pantry, where she serves as the board’s vice president, she spoke of social justice, a thriving downtown, increased growth for the stagnating school district and being innovative with city policies.
“We do not have to lose some of these traditions that we all know and love about this town,” read her prepared remarks.
Mason-Boersma will run against incumbent Mayor Tim Swadley, who announced his re-election campaign in August on social media and in an email to the Hub. Swadley defeated former alder Bob McGeever in 2018 for the open position after Donna Olson declined to run for a third four-year term.
Mason-Boersma told the Hub on Monday, Oct. 18, she had decided in April to run and has since been doing extensive research, speaking with mayors and administrators of other cities, former mayors of Stoughton and other city leaders, but is still formulating specific positions on many issues.
“I’m formulating ideas, and I’m an action person,” she said. “I would really work hard to formulate that information.”
Her husband is former alder Sid Boersma, and her campaign chair is former alder Dennis Kittleson, who before beginning an alder ran a write-in campaign against then-incumbent Donna Olson amid the controversy of the Kettle Park West development in 2014.
She made her campaign announcement at the spot she said was targeted by consultant Ayres Associates as the “focal point” of the downtown and the city overall. It happens to also be the spot where Kittleson and his wife owned a building that took more than a year and at least a dozen government meetings before the city would approve its demolition and landscaping plan.
Mason-Boersma, bestowed the city’s Citizen of the Year in 2020 for her volunteering efforts, plans to campaign several ways, including door to door, town hall style meetings and printed flyers, she said. She also plans to make sure people she speaks with understand the city’s history as it relates to the present and her vision of the future.
Part of that is making the city inviting for people of all ages and recognizing the many needs city residents have. She said her experience attending Wayne State University, in a heavily urban and racially diverse area of Michigan, after growing up in a much whiter city, Kalamazoo, set the stage for her social work and her volunteerism.
“I would like to have some decision making power, and I am passionate about Stoughton,” she said.
She also led the downtown revitalization subcommittee formed by the city’s Redevelopment Authority and learned a lot about the downtown and its needs then, she said. That committee completed its charge in September 2020 with a report to the Common Council, but earlier this year, Mason-Boersma followed that effort by co-founding a downtown merchants association.
Mason-Boersma avoided explicitly stating any positions she disagrees with Mayor Swadley on, but one discussion point that has come and gone over the years she commented on is the possibility of establishing an administrator position. She said she is interested in creating such a position -- right now that job is handled by the mayor -- but she would have to look more closely at the budget to determine whether it’s feasible.