Heidi M. Wegleitner
Why are you running? What are your top two policy objectives?
To continue my work to advance racial and economic justice, aggressively combat and respond to climate change, implement housing as a human right for all Dane County residents, increase transparency and community engagement with local government, and reverse county policies, practices and funding priorities that facilitate mass incarceration. My top two policy objectives this term include: (1) Increasing our financial support and policy commitments to expand permanent supportive housing by (a) redirecting funding from the jail consolidation project, (b) pursuing legislation to prioritize county surplus property and tax foreclosed properties for housing persons experiencing homelessness, and (c) requiring set asides in all county affordable housing funded projects for persons on the Dane County Homeless Services Consortium Priority List for housing. (2) Increasing transparency, accountability, and community engagement by (a) video recording all standing committees of the county board and making available video recording to other committees taking on items of significant community interest; (b) implementing a decision-making tool developed by the Human Services Board and Human Services program evaluation staff to enhance transparency and equity in county decision-making, particularly in human services; (c) improving the affordable housing development fund and CDBG selection processes to better align with priorities and strategies set forth in the Community Plan to Prevent and End Homeless and require all applications for funding to be provided to the public and available for public comment during the county board approval process.
What qualifications and/or experience make you a strong candidate for elected office?
I have committed my professional and community life to advancing racial and economic justice. I received my B.A. from UW-Madison in 2001, where I played four years of varsity women's soccer, double majored in Political Science and Women's Studies, and obtained a certificate in American Indian Studies. I received my J.D. from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in 2005 where I won the Dean's Award for Jurisprudence and represented immigrants in removal proceedings as a clinical legal services student. While in college and law school, I enjoyed coaching youth and varsity high school soccer. For the past 12 years, I’ve worked as a tenants’ rights attorney. I’m co-chair of the United Legal Workers and a labor federation delegate. I’ve served on the Boards of Tenant Resource Center, Public Interest Law Section of the State Bar, National Lawyers Guild - Madison Chapter, and Emerson East Neighborhood Association. In 2016, I was a delegate for Bernie Sanders to the Democratic National Convention. I'm on the Progressive Dane Steering Committee, Policy, and Elections Committee. As a county supervisor, I've served on many county committees and have pursued legislation to increase affordable and fair housing, study fare-free transit, develop a strategic action plan on climate change, create a homeless day resource center, increase funding for human services, redirect funding from incarceration to community-based services, and require lactation rooms and free menstrual supplies in all county buildings.
Will you help us implement OWR’s policy objectives at the local level? How? You can consult OWR's platform at: https://ourwisconsinrev.com/program/
Yes, as one of the initial organizers of OWR in Dane County, I have been working to make the platform relevant for local implementation for several months. I also contributed to the platform during the convention process, particularly in areas related to housing, tenants' rights, and access to justice. I have circulated draft political strategy documents for OWR-Dane to this end and hope to continue to work with OWR on many of our important issues.
What is your plan to win? Feel free to list (or provide web links to) any endorsements you have already received, the size of your campaign team, your fundraising strategy, and any other relevant information.
I am running unopposed which puts me in a strong position to win. I hope to pull together a fundraiser in late February or early March. I will still work to get out the vote in my district for myself, the State Supreme Court race (I have been assisting the OWR endorsed Tim Burns), and Marilyn Townsend who is running for Dane County Circuit Court. My website is http://www.friendsofheidi.org/ . I am on facebook at Re-Elect Heidi Wegleitner for Dane County Supervisor D2. https://www.facebook.com/Re-elect-Heidi-Wegleitner-for-Dane-County-Supervisor-D2-228377723897463/
Would you be willing to fight to suspend Voter ID laws in Dane County? How would you do this?
I'm not sure what more the Dane County Board could do right now, but please let us know if you have ideas. We adopted a resolution directed to state lawmakers to suspend Voter ID. We funded a study of Voter ID impacts. We fund Voter ID education campaigns and transportation services to get an ID. As a member of the homeless issues committee, I have requested that Voter ID issues be discussed with the Dane County Clerk at one of our upcoming committees.
What (if any) alternatives to incarceration will you support as County Board supervisor?
I will support best practice alternatives to incarceration and jail diversion. All our diversion programs should be reviewed, with meaningful community input, for their consistency with best practices and county goals to reduce incarceration and racial disparities. Last year, I introduced a budget amendment for $8M in capital funding for planning and development of one or more 24/7 community-based crisis, assessment, and resource centers focused on supporting persons in the community, and diverting persons with mental health, substance abuse, or developmental disability issues who have contact with law enforcement from being arrested and/or admitted to the County jail. My amendment didn't pass, but a mental health study which will assess the feasibility of a crisis restoration center is being pursued. We must aggressively pursue state and federal revenue sources and redirect funding from incarceration to fund mental health services and supports for persons moving from incarceration or homelessness to housing. I have worked hard to advance housing not handcuffs, and particularly permanent supportive housing. We must put an end to the policies, practices, attitudes, and budgeting that results in over-policing of people of color, people in poverty, people experiencing homelessness, and people experiencing mental wellness challenges.
What strategies would you pursue to increase the funds for community-based mental health and AODA Services and improve the availability of affordable housing across the county?
Revenue generated by human services should be put into the human services reserve fund every year and not used to balance other department budget deficits. We have been able to expand mental health services through the Comprehensive Community Services Program, a State program funded with Medical Assistance. Unfortunately, that program has strict state regulatory requirements which create barriers to service for some persons, particularly those who have experienced chronic homelessness. We should continue to expand CCS, but also redirect funding from higher cost and less effective interventions like law enforcement and psychiatric hospitalization to more preventative and humane community-based services. See also answers to questions 1 and 6.