Why are you running? What are your top two policy objectives?
I’m running, again, to continue to do what is possible to protect the interests of folks that our current state and federal government is busy decimating. This will be my 4th term on the Dane County Board for District 27, a majority-minority district representing portions of Fitchburg north of McKee Rd / Hwy PD between Huegel School and Leopold School. The majority of the district is lower income but includes areas of very high income, which makes it the most diverse district in Dane County, once you factor in economic diversity along with cultural diversity.
Top two, if it’s possible to narrow it down, is probably bettering the lives of those impacted by bad decision making at the state and national levels and to work toward a better Criminal Justice System, at all levels.
What qualifications and/or experience make you a strong candidate for elected office?
Because of the volunteer work that I’d been doing in my community around Allied Drive, when a Fitchburg Alder position was going to open, it was suggested that I think about running, something I’d never considered before. Given I had just 2 weeks before nomination papers (whatever those were… I had a LOT of quick learning to do!) were due, I jumped in and started a long learning curve, which continues today.
In the end, I was happy that a friend sponsored me through Camp Wellstone (wellstone.org) because not far into the campaign, Act 10 happened and those folks that would have been my campaign team were drawn into activities at the state capitol, and I was left to lead a contested campaign on my own, as a political virgin! That training was enough to enable a decisive victory.
The next year, progressives in Fitchburg sought the best candidate for the new county board seat that was created as the result of redistricting. In the end, they chose me. I must have done a good job of getting to know the district by taking information around, beginning in October, speaking about the redistricting process as well as introducing myself to district residents east of Seminole Highway, because I ended up running unopposed!
Since then, of a total of 7 campaigns in as many years, 4 of which were contested, I’ve come to love opportunities to get out and talk to people. In this, my 8th campaign, I again do not have an opponent, so I get to be more relaxed and campaign in ways that help people understand how government works and why it is so important for the voices of everyday people to be heard in government.
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/
Of course. OWR (and OR, and Bernie) values are those that led me to running for office in the first place, before there even was a platform to implement. I continue my concern about what is happening on the state and federal level that is decimating the middle-class, forcing them to not only carry the load for the economically better off people above them, but also to continue supporting the lower-classes, as they always have.
I’ve attended Fighting Bob Fest regularly over the years and got to hear Bernie often, ultimately ending up being a volunteer not only at Fighting Bob but also at various campaign events where Bernie appeared in the Madison area during the primary campaign.
With the help of many friends, I was able to go to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia as a Bernie delegate. I’m as devastated as anyone likely to be reading this, in the outcome of that election, and I will do everything in my power to help remove people from office and turn the state and country back onto a course that will serve people over profit! That is the only way it can happen. We have to use the ballot box to take back what is ours. But we have a long way to go in helping others to understand both the need and the power of their voice and their vote.
For those, and many more reasons, I’ve been an active part of the formation of OWR, participating in the interim organizing efforts that lead to the state convention, where I was able to be a bigger part of the elections committee work than I’d expected. It’s a great group, and I’d heartily recommend it to anyone that hasn’t been part of actually working with a group of folks from OWR.
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.
This year, not a problem. Without an opponent, I have the opportunity to help others campaign as well as do voter education within the poorer parts of my own district. Last year, during the city campaign, for the first time ever, I put postage on a mailing. But that was only because I was on crutches, unable to walk the district as has become my norm. Now that the powers that be have raised the amount that qualifies for exemption for financial filing from $1,000 to $2,000, I won’t come anywhere near either spending or collecting that much money. Even last year, with postage, I was able to file exempt. I don’t do a lot of fundraising and spend carefully, preferring strong grass-roots campaigns. I also fight to get money out of politics, which is what has devastated and corrupted our democracy.
Would you be willing to fight to suspend Voter ID laws in Dane County? How would you do this?
As much as is possible. Most of it has to happen at the state level, but there are workarounds in place to help people vote anyway. But they sure make it tough! I’ve been working with the Dane County Voter ID Coalition (VoterIDWisconsin.org) and would encourage others to do so as well. They are doing a lot to reach potential voters and turn them into actual voters. But they could use help. There are many groups that OWR can and should partner with… that is one of my favorites. And, again, we need to change those decision-makers at the state level and turn it back around to what it should be!
What (if any) alternatives to incarceration will you support as County Board supervisor?
I’m on Public Protection and Judiciary (PP&J) on the county board, which has the jail study in our laps. I take a lot of heat for supporting scrapping the old dysfunctional jail and replacing it with one that the serve the needs of the people who must be housed there. But, apart from that, my main objective is to keep people out of the system in the first place!! There is a lot of work that can and should be done in community to help them improve their neighborhoods, to find or create jobs or education toward jobs; to improve the quality of housing available; to find productive activities for young people; and so much more.
We (PP&J) are being not nice to the DA in his apparent lack of support of Community Restorative Courts. He has to stop finding reasons why people aren’t appropriate for it and start trusting that community has good support systems. Or he’ll get replaced in the next election. We are also encouraging police departments to refer people to CRC instead of pushing them into the system. Kids and kids and have always done stupid stuff. But the stuff they are doing now is far more serious and likely to lead to a lifetime with a criminal record. We have to help them avoid that outcome.
On the backside, we already have community groups such a Nehemiah and ExPO ready to help with reentry issues when people get out, but again, we need a lot more. We need landlords and employers ready and willing to help and support people as well. The stereotype of “once a criminal, always a criminal” needs to change. And we especially need to change the prison system itself, so when it’s time to return to society, people are more prepared to do so. Ack… and old law issues that keep people in much longer then was intended, and, and, and… head splits in frustration in all that should change! I’ve been working with Wisdom/MOSES (http://mosesmadison.org/) on a lot of those issues already.
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?
We (all of us!) need to insist on making more funding available for mental health and AODA, largely from the state, to enable the county to develop more programs. Both mental health and AODA Services should be available via the health care system tho. Unfortunately, the system we have is a for-profit system… and those are expensive treatments. Therefore, they shouldn’t be covered, and county taxes should take care of it, right?!? NO! We need universal healthcare. The cost of maintaining your body should not depend on the lottery system where some people get a body that is easier and cheaper to care for than others that were given bodies with built in issues to contend with. Everyone should help care for every body.
For whatever reason, developers are holding municipalities hostage in order to derive as much profit as possible from what they build, making it far more expensive for taxpayers, whether renters or owners. They find it most profitable to build high-end housing, costing $1,200 - $1,600+/month for a 2-bedroom apartment, or minimum $350,000 for a basic home. I’m sorry, that is not affordable, not in the world we live in, for most, especially families with children. We have to find both programs and developers that will help make it possible to build less expensively, even if it cuts into their profit margin. Not sure it can happen, but it has to. Government programs can cut into it, but that money has to come from somewhere… usually out of middle-class pockets. Sigh. Maybe if we changed our national priorities by a lot… but we have to once again go full circle to replacing those in the seats of power in order for that to happen. We need to get to work.