In The News

Candidate Q&As: City of Verona Mayor 

Q: You are running for your fourth term as mayor. What accomplishments are you the proudest of from your first three terms? 

A: “To maintain our sense of community even as we grow, it’s critical for the city to have spaces for people in the community to gather. As mayor, I’m proud of the new two-plus acre park on West Verona Avenue. I’m also proud of the support we’ve offered community groups, including supporting a second sheet of ice at the ice rink and the Art House 360. I’m also proud of the strong fiscal health of the city, our efforts around transparency, the progress we’ve made on sustainability (there’s more to do!) and building our trails for people who walk and bike.”

Council OKs TIF deal with Art House 360

Mayor Luke Diaz…“When this project is completed, it’s going to be a really wonderful piece of our community,” he said. “I think it’s going to bring people in, I think it’s going to serve people who don’t always get served by art, and ultimately, art should be for everyone. And it also has the bonus of being able to help local Verona businesses and the bonus of saving a historic building that was very important to our community.”

Community voices support for Art House 360

Mayor Luke Diaz…“The park is gonna be really great on its own, (an) art house will make it better.”

[Diaz] also is open to the city retaining ownership of the building so it can keep a historical status.

Latina medical spa owner makes history in Dane Co.
“I think it’s just great that we work really hard at the city level to be fair and open to businesses and to see it paying off when businesses locate here,” Verona Mayor Luke Diaz said. “It makes me feel really good.”  

City bond rating raised
High rating demonstrates strong fiscal position of city, Mayor Diaz says

“The city was upgraded to Aa1 because its well managed financial operations will continue to support very strong reserve levels, which have improved in recent years,” a Moody’s press release states. “The city benefits from its position as a growing suburban community favorably located near Madison with strong resident income and per capita wealth metrics. Leverage and fixed-costs ratios are in line with peers. These strengths are balanced against its high taxpayer concentration.”

‘More jobs for the Verona and Dane County area’: Epic Systems is planning another expansion
Verona Mayor Luke Diaz said Epic’s continued growth shows the company’s strength in the market, and that health care organizations find its software valuable.

“They’re continuing to expand — I think that’s a good thing,” he said. “More jobs for the Verona and Dane County area is good overall, and I’m happy to see them succeeding.”

American Legion recognizes local Vietnam War veterans with picnic at Wisconsin Brewing Company
At this point, several Cooperstown Baseball Bats were presented to guests, including City of Verona Mayor Luke Diaz, City of Fitchburg Mayor Julia Arata-Fratta, Wisconsin Brewing Company president Paul Verdu and American Legion Post 385 along with its Auxiliary unit.

City Hall to fly progress pride flag for Pride Month
Following the approval of the new flag policy, the council voted to fly the progress pride flag at City Hall for Pride Month throughout June 2023. The request to fly the flag was written by Mayor Diaz.

Diaz said if the city is sending a message, it’s that they accept people for who they are – and supports flying the pride flag because he believes in freedom.

Diaz declares first Friday in June Gun Violence Awareness Day
Friday, June 2, 2023 will be known as Gun Violence Awareness Day in the City of Verona. 

During a Monday, May 22 Common Council meeting, Mayor Luke Diaz read a proclamation to declare the first Friday in June as a day to honor and remember all victims and survivors of gun violence, as well as declare that the country must do more to end the public health crisis.

Despite public outcry, Madison Sewer District decides to shut off flow to Badger Mill Creek
“I don’t think the DNR should approve the water quality amendment because of the harm it does to Badger Mill Creek,” Diaz says. “The statements from the fish biologist were clear about the shape the creek is in now.”

The cost of living
City of Verona Mayor Luke Diaz believes if people are good enough to work in Verona, they’re also good enough to live in Verona.

New Verona apartment complexes aim to fill housing demand
“My attitude has always been that if you’re good enough to work in Verona, you’re good enough to live in Verona,” Diaz said.

Dane Co., area cities set to purchase 40 acres to expand Ice Age Trail
“As the Verona area grows, it’s critical that we preserve valuable natural areas for current and future generations,” said City of Verona Mayor Luke Diaz. “I think that Verona residents are really going to enjoy this area, once it is prepared and open to the public.”

Notebook: TIF refund fix in state budget
Mayor Luke Diaz announced to the Common Council on Monday that Gov. Tony Evers’ state budget proposal has a provision that would allow the state to refund taxpayers for the more than $100 per average household that was overpaid because of a mistake made by the city’s assessor.

*Note from Luke: Sometimes leadership means going all out to fix mistakes even if they aren’t your fault.  In my opinion, it should have been easier to have this mistake fixed, but it wasn’t.  So we went to the state legislature and the governor and got it done.  I had to call in some political favors, but it was worth it if it meant returning the money and fixing the mistake.

Sustainability policy covers infrastructure, vehicles, nature
Mayor Luke Diaz told the Press after Monday’s Common Council meeting, where it was adopted unanimously, he decided to introduce the policy and wrote most of it, with help from similar policies in neighboring cities that have adopted them in recent years, such as Fitchburg, Middleton and Monona.

In addition to his own interest in environmentalism, he said he had been hearing questions from constituents and alders about whether the city had such a policy.

“We are going to have to deal with climate change,” he told alders.

City teaming up with communities across Dane County to tackle climate change
Seeking to confront climate change “head-on” locally, Dane County announced last week a novel collaboration between officials throughout the county to work on ways to do that, including with Verona Mayor Luke Diaz.

In a news release Aug. 15, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway announced the “first of its kind collaboration” to bring together elected officials, administrators and staff who work on sustainability issues from nearly two dozen cities, villages, and towns in Dane County.

*Note from Luke: Dealing with climate change will require all of us working together.

Notebook: Woods plan passes despite concerns
“This is, of course, not what we would term affordable housing, but I think you could call it attainable housing. That is a kind of progress,” Diaz said.

*Note from Luke: Ultimately, people need places to live.  Encouraging and allowing developers to provide housing at a variety of price points is good for our community.

Hundreds protest in Verona for racial justice
The March for Racial Justice event, which started and ended at Veteran’s Park, featured Black community members who spoke to share their experiences with racism and their thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement. Speakers included Tamera Stanley, Tamiya Smith, Debbie Biddle, Corey Saffold, Chad Kemp and Luke Diaz.

Verona aiming for no new debt in 2022 budget
Read my lips, no new debt.

That is the message city leaders have been giving the administration in recent years, and this year, it could become reality.

*Note from Luke: Fiscal discipline is so important for any municipality.  Regardless of what any elected official is trying to do, there needs to be a strong fiscal base to make it happen.

Mayor represents city before state public utilities commission
*Note from Luke: This action let me speak before the PSC to advocate for clean renewable energy projects.

Verona residents have made the best of a difficult year
*Note from Luke: During the COVID shutdowns, we worked hard at the city level to support local businesses through the crisis while still keeping people safe.

Diaz said the city tried hard to take safety seriously, including upgrading air filtration in some buildings.

The city also helped area businesses with grants, he said, and it “felt good to be flexible” with some city ordinances, to provide businesses a better chance to weather the pandemic. For instance, Hop Haus Brewing Company and Toot and Kate’s Wine Bar were both permitted to have extra outdoor seating – in a parking lot, and along the sidewalk respectively.

Sow’s Ear beats out businesses from 87 downtowns statewide to win mini-makeover
*Note from Luke: I genuinely enjoy supporting small businesses in our community:

After reminiscing about bringing his young son to the shop to unwind, Mayor Luke Diaz said at the unveiling that businesses like The Sow’s Ear are both an economic driver and a community space, and “a part of what makes Verona, Verona.”

Mayor Luke Diaz has been a steady, thoughtful leader for our city of Verona in some unusual and difficult times.  (Published on Feb 24, 2022 )

Epic Systems expanding workforce and imaginative campus, expected completion in 2024
Verona Mayor Luke Diaz says he agrees that the expansion should overall be good for the city. He also told News 3 Now will mean more conversations about where these new employees will live. 

“It’s good to see a business expanding,” Diaz said. “I think there’ll be a reminder to the city to keep open to a lot of different kinds of housing options so we can support lots of different people living here.”

Diaz is best choice for Verona mayor — Denise and Paul Beckfield Mar 26, 2018 

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to receive $2.5 million in state funding

“I am thrilled to support this project and the jobs it’ll bring to Verona,” Verona Mayor Luke Diaz said on May 9. “Arrowhead is a technology leader. Dane County is clearly positioned as an important center of innovation.”

Expanding to end cancer: MilliporeSigma facility’s $65 million expansion is complete
*Note from Luke: I was happy to be able to support this project as it added good paying jobs to our area.

Council in brief: Common Council approves plat to create 10 condominium units located at Prairie Heights Drive
“I think this is a good project,” Verona Mayor Luke Diaz said during the July 11 meeting. “I think it provides a nice level of kind of gentle density and it’s a way to see that lot get used so I think it’s good.”

Here’s a letter to the editor I wrote: Letter: Support Verona schools referendum

Community hub to be developed at former Verona elementary school site
Verona Mayor Luke Diaz said the project would allow more people who work in Verona to have the chance to live there.

“Furthermore, the project will feature a fantastic two-acre-plus park, which will serve as an excellent community gathering space for all Verona residents,” Diaz said.

Celebrating groundbreaking on new hockey arena
City of Verona Mayor Luke Diaz addressed the crowd despite chilly temperatures and applauded the community for teamwork. The City and town of Verona have agreed to a 40-year lease for the land for the new rink.

“Some days mayor can be a lot of work and a difficult job,” Diaz said. “Some days are good. Why I work so hard at the job and why I put up with the bad days is because of good days like this. Being mayor has allowed me to support the community in things like this. It helps me achieve my goals to make Verona a little bit better place.”

More development on the way for Verona
Verona is in line for more development in the near future, with a goal of Mayor Luke Diaz to make single family homes in the city more affordable and less exclusive.

VASD hosts first ever Latinos United Leadership Summit
*Note from Luke: This is sort of a philosophical note, but it covers how I think of leadership:

After taking the stage, Diaz spoke about leadership and what it means to him. Originally from Oconomowoc, he said having the last name Diaz was enough to stand out as a “curiosity” while growing up.

However, as the “outsider,” he gained a valuable perspective that is useful for individuals in leadership positions.

“It shows that different people can have different perspectives, different people can have different values, people can contribute different things and still be a leader,” Diaz said. 

Diaz told students there are many ways to serve as a leader and stressed the importance of being open to different opportunities. Additionally, he said people must have an innate belief in themselves.

And while leadership can be difficult, Diaz said it’s all learnable. 

“There’s certain aspects of leadership that the only way you can learn them is by doing them,” he said. “You can train as much as you want, prepare as much as you want, but ultimately you just have to say, ‘This is important to me. I’m not 100% prepared – I’m gonna step up and do it anyway.’ And then you learn and get better.”

In the News as an Alder

Bike and ped projects connect Veronans
Mayor Luke Diaz, who advocated for the bike and ped project to be pushed forward when he was a District 3 alder and member of the Public Works committee, said sometimes in order to get things done in city government, you need to be in the “right place at the right time.”

Sugar Creek Commons project passes on split vote
3 alders against using TIF to displace residents

Ald. Luke Diaz (Dist. 3) started the avalanche that took over the discussion right from the beginning. He acknowledged that he loves the idea of getting rid of the old, abandoned truck stop and that “the whole corridor is ripe for development,” but he could not, from a “moral perspective” vote for it.

“The idea of using TIF incentives to push people out of their houses does not sit right with me,” he said.

Alders discuss road to school in closed session (Oct 27, 2017 )
Luke Diaz almost got his wish Monday night.

The District 3 alder has long campaigned for fewer closed discussions of city business, and he had made his strongest pitch yet, stating flatly that the city should keep negotiations with the school district – which includes the entire city among its constituents – open and transparent.

With two alders and the mayor missing, the council voted 3-2 to take the matter into closed session. 

Wherever it may go, alders on board with VACT move
A pair of VACT parents had addressed the council earlier, during public comment, and extolled the virtues of what exposure to theater had done for their kids. They made Diaz “twice as convinced” of its value to the community.

*Note from Luke: Community arts groups important to our community and elected officials should support them when possible.

Verona Press Thursday, March 26, 2015 (page 3)
Vaccine maker gets $700K TIF

Alds. Evan Touchett (Dist. 4) and Luke Diaz (D-3) called the deal a “no-brainer,” as the three-person UV contingent flashed wide grins from the back of the room.

“I’d love to see our employment base get balanced in at least a small way,” Diaz added in an obvious reference to the thousands of his own colleagues at Epic who work in Verona.

Verona alders: Keep options open for Matts House
“Generally, in principle, I favor the open bid process, because I feel like that’s the most fair to everyone,” Ald. Luke Diaz (Dist. 3) explained. “There were a lot of good ideas tonight.”

*Note from Luke: This was a long process but ultimately the city was able to preserve a building that was important to people in the community and historically significant.

City of Verona: 80-unit complex gets commission review Monday
As a result of the discussion, prompted by Ald. Luke Diaz (Dist. 3), Sayre also last month put links to past, future and current projects more prominently on the city’s website. The list is accessible from the city’s front page (, and people can sign up for alerts on the website, as well.

*Note from Luke: I’ve always been a big proponent for transparency – there’s a lot municipalities can do to make it easier for people to see what’s going on.