We must fight racial disparities
There are two Dane Counties.
There is the one where opportunity and connections ensure access to the best education, employment, and a path to a better life for us and our children.
Then there is another Dane County, where we have some of the worst racial disparities in the entire country. It is the Dane County that disproportionately incarcerates minorities, and where life in general for underserved communities is worse here than in much of the rest of the country.
I believe we can work together to change that. We can use the modern power of data analytics to divert people from our jail into restorative justice programs and mental health treatment centers, while reforming our broken bail system. We can also take a multi-generational approach to economic inequality and provide parents with the support they need in job opportunities, affordable housing, transportation, and child care, while helping children live in safe and healthy communities where they excel in highly achieving public schools.
Dane County should expand the use of the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) tool so we can remove implicit bias in determining bail. And we can expand the use of bail-monitoring programs as an alternate to cash bail for non-violent offenses so we can ensure that someone’s life is not completely up-ended by spending time in jail while waiting for a hearing.
In the event of jail construction, I will protect in-person visitation for inmates, because maintaining a connection to their support network is vitally important.
We can also implement enhanced notifications to ensure that citizens show up at court appearances. When a court appearance is missed, a warrant can be issued, which wastes officer time, results in additional jail time, and perpetuates a destructive cycle.
We should provide transportation subsidies to those in need since it is cheaper to help someone get to court then to have them spend time in jail.
We need to clean up our lakes
Our lakes are a community treasure. I will work with farmers, scientists, activists and environmental stewards to prioritize restoring our lakes so they are safe and enjoyable for people, pets, fish and wildlife.
We need to invest in the science and listen to the scientists. We can work to reduce phosphorus levels in our lakes, remove existing phosphorous in our streams and watersheds, and eliminate the scourge of toxic blue-green algae blooms. Our residents deserve the right to swim and fish in our lakes, and our natural resources should be treated with reverence and respect, not as a dumping ground.
I will work with rural communities and farmers to develop Nutrient Management Plans to reduce the phosphorus run-off into our rivers and streams, which ends up in our lakes. I will also support programs like "suck the muck" to remove legacy phosphorous, because even if farm run-off is eliminated, the legacy phosphorous will continue to pollute our lakes for years.
Let's power Dane County with renewable energy
We need to urgently tackle climate change. Given the moves the Trump administration is taking, it is up to us to lead the fight locally for a clean energy future. I am a member of the Legacy Solar Co-op, and our family installed solar panels in 2015. Renewable energy is no longer a sunk cost. It is an investment that is profitable financially and environmentally.
Dane County is a leader in renewable energy, and already offsets most of its carbon footprint. However, we need to do better. We will work hard so every resident and business has access to renewable energy, and the ability to offset their entire carbon footprint. We can power our economy with solar, invest in energy efficiency, and serve as a model county that leads by example to fight climate change.
I will advocate for more renewable energy, particularly solar, by expanding the PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program to include residential property owners in addition to commercial property owners, so they can also receive long-term, low-cost loans. We have solar panels on our home and will work hard so our neighbors can afford them as well.
Ensure Affordable Housing for All
Housing is a human right. We must invest in affordable housing for our all of our community, including our vulnerable populations. Dane County, specifically Madison, has a low vacancy rate and is subject to rental price surges. To keep up with an expanding population, we must create more housing units, but we must also ensure that the housing is affordable. Many of our neighbors are already housing cost burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their income for their housing. We must take steps to ensure that our communities are vibrant, diverse and affordable.
I support permanent supportive housing for the homeless and our vulnerable populations. Our county has had recent successes like Rethke Terrace. I will work hard to keep District 6 affordable, because we must ensure that the people that make our neighborhoods such a special place to live are not priced out of their own homes.
Provide Public Access to Public Processes
Most county government work is done in committees, not on the county board floor. These committee meetings are not recorded and available to the general public, which reduces the ability of our residents to participate and leaves a gap in accountability for these public bodies. Modern streaming technology allows sharing video at the click of a button. We must demand more from Dane County.
I will lead the charge to ensure committee meetings are recorded and publicly available to allow citizens to fully participate in their own government.
The Board also limits the frequency of testimony at committee and board meetings. Every constituent should be able to testify at any meeting on an agenda item within a reasonable time limit.
The Dane County Board must do better when it comes to posting meeting times and locations. There are myriad ways to reach people through social media and electronic and print platforms. We must make sure meeting schedules are readily available, and that meetings are held at times and locations that maximize public participation.
Open Source, Open Data, Open Government
As a Justice Information Sharing specialist, I have been developing low cost, award-winning open source software for the public sector. Open source software makes code publicly available for inspection and re-use, often at no cost. This also provides more security and higher quality since the software is developed in a collaborative community process.
I will work with county government to reduce burdensome software costs while pursuing open source solutions. I will also work to make all government data available in a simple, accessible and standard format for download, as well as via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
Treat mental health as a public health not law enforcement issue
Dane County is in desperate need of a Mental Health Crisis center. Rather than spend $100 million on a new jail to disproportionally incarcerate the mentally ill and people of color, we need to treat a mental health crisis as a public health, not law enforcement, issue. We need teams of rapid response public health professionals to respond to a crisis outside of a law enforcement context.
Transportation policy connecting all communities
The science is clear: global warming is the existential crisis of our time. We need a broad transportation policy, beyond just the automobile, that focuses on connecting all our communities in Dane County.
Dane County needs to partner with Madison Metro and other municipal transportation entities to invest in efficient, county-wide rapid bus service. I will work to actively break down the barriers between city and county government so we can collaborate on transit solutions instead of operating in silos. Transportation investments must use an equity lens, and we should immediately fund bus passes for SNAP recipients and Beacon patrons.
As your county supervisor, I will lead the way toward a healthy planet, a healthy community and healthy people. I will orient our transportation investments toward active community environments: transit, walking and bicycling. I will rely on the latest data-driven science, bringing together transportation and land-use policies to reduce our reliance on cars, while building for community and sustainability.