Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I know so many of you worked so hard civically and politically during this election cycle. In this update, I will give an election wrap-up, an update on the 2019 budget, a jail update and talk about what you can do to help our lakes as the cold weather approaches.
In August, there were technical issues that delayed reporting of election results. With an upgraded infrastructure and interface, Dane County efficiently reported election results under a heavy user load. I am proud to have worked with County Clerk Scott McDonell, County IT, and tech leaders in the community to put forth effective solutions that quickly delivered election results with record turnout. As a county board supervisor, I relish any opportunity I have to make government function better for our constituents, and I am going to continue to work with our County Clerk to maintain Dane County’s reputation as the gold standard for fair and accurate elections.
I want to send a huge thanks to my fellow poll workers for the incredible work that they did on, before and after election day, November 6th. There were 2,506 poll workers on election day. Their duties included registering voters, issuing voter slips and ballots, processing absentee ballots, and handing out “I voted” stickers.
When you vote early absentee in-person, your ballot is delivered to your polling place on election day. Two election officials, working in tandem, process your ballot by going to the poll book, obtaining a voter slip, and then putting your ballot in the tabulator, just as if you were voting in person. Of all absentee ballots, only 80 were rejected. This equates to .15 percent of all absentee ballots. I have fielded many questions about the integrity of voting early / absentee, and 99.85 were processed and counted. We strive to make this number 100% and will keep working towards this goal.
Turnout at nine wards exceeded 100%. This is because so many voters (22,329) registered at the polls on election day. Turnout at the Wil-Mar center was 2,523, ranking 8th in the city. Just across East Wash in District 2, turnout at Lapham Elementary (my daughter’s old school) was 3,043, ranking second in the city.
I know on election night, people are eager for results. The chief inspector at each polling station needs to be meticulous about reporting all of the results correctly, and this process takes time. Due to the high number of early votes, many of those are processed after the polls close. The first priority is always making sure the voter can vote quickly and efficiently, and since we all use the same poll book whether we are voting early or in person, we make sure the in-person voter always goes first. This causes many absentee ballots to processed after polls close. Due to this, the final vote count can take a few hours.
Big thanks to our City of Madison Board of Canvassers for providing many of the details that I listed above. They do a tremendous job.
The budget process is in full swing. In our various standing committees, we proposed operating and capital amendments. These budget amendments then go to the personnel and finance committee who create a final recommendation for the county board. On November 12th, the county board will deliberate this final recommendation. On November 14th and 15th, we will continue deliberations if necessary. I have received great feedback from so many constituents and community members on programs that they are passionate about.
I specifically supported budget amendments to increase affordable housing, reduce costs to families with juveniles in detention, increase funding to programs that support immigrants and community members who need legal services to help clear their records when seeking employment, housing or job opportunities. I also supported funding for Friends of Silverwood Park to create a demonstration project to plant trees alongside crops to improve soil health, prevent erosion, and create buffers between farmland to keep our lakes and waterways clean. I plan to give you a detailed budget overview and recap as this process progresses.
Legalization, Taxation and Regulation of Cannabis
I am happy to report that there was overwhelming support across the state of Wisconsin to legalize, tax and regulate Cannabis for medicinal and/or recreational purposes. In Dane County, 76.4% supported the referendum.
Here are some news stories where I discuss the referendum:
According to the Wisconsin State Journal: “On the question of recreational use, more than 644,000 voters said marijuana should be legalized at least for adults. Just under 281,000 people said no.
More than 375,000 voters — more than 81 percent — said marijuana should be available for medical use, while fewer than 89,000 disagreed.”
These referenda were on the ballots in 16 counties and two cities, representing over 50% of the state’s population. I was the lead sponsor of this referendum in Dane County because our goal was to get this on the ballot for over 50% of our population in the state. Big thanks to Brian Seamonson of Madison NORML for his sustained advocacy on this issue, and for traveling all over the state to testify in dozens of public meetings.
In my previous update, I detailed how the jail construction plans were changed due to structural issues with the public safety building. In our last county board meeting, there was a resolution to pay the architect an additional $137,000 to assess building the jail next to the public safety building rather than on top of it. I was concerned that this new direction was not sufficiently explained to the board and the public, so I voted against the additional funding. The resolution passed after an informative debate. Going forward, I will work to have the county board and committees in charge provide detailed information as a result of the consultant’s study, so we know what the new direction is. With building costs rising due to tariffs and supply/demand of materials and labor, we need to closely watch the budget and keep the public informed.
As we get ready for winter, please continue to do what you can to keep leaves out of our lakes. Leaves are a big cause of urban phosphorous. We want to keep the leaves away from storm sewers and do all we can to rake/bag our leaves. We raked about 10 bags of leaves today just in time for the city crew to collect them. The timing was great.
Also, we got our first snow. Please be cognizant of how much salt you use on your sidewalk. The right amount is 1 cup per 10 sidewalk panels. A fun project is to count the number of sidewalk panels, measure the appropriate amount of salt and mark that on a yogurt cup and throw that into your sand/salt bucket. That way you can make sure you always use the correct amount. More details can be found here:
This summer I worked with The Beacon Homeless Day Resource Center to organize a voter registration drive. We were happy so many of our neighbors got to participate in their first newly-registered mid-term election. We had record turnout in Madison because we prioritized making sure that everyone who was eligible to vote was able to vote and have their vote counted.
The Goodman Center thanksgiving basket drive is underway. Please donate some time, food or money to make sure all of our neighbors have a happy Thanksgiving, and a hearty meal on their table. In addition to the Goodman Center, there are many local non-profits and food banks that could use your help as well.
Congratulations to Sharon Kilfoy for retiring as Executive Director of Dane Arts Mural Arts (DAMA). As a cultural affairs commission member, I know the direct contribution that DAMA makes towards producing stunningly complex and beautiful murals all over our county.
In a future update, I will be providing some tips on how to effectively communicate with your elected officials. I will share best practices that I have learned over the years, as well as some experiences I have that have been instructive during my tenure as your county supervisor.
The technical work group is working hard as a result of the flooding resolution to provide the data and information we need for our technical advisory group. They are on track to complete their work by February 1st.