County Board Supervisor, District 17
Residents of Dane County District 17 must elect a supervisor to complete the term left vacant by the resignation of former supervisor, Jeff Pertl.
Term ends April 21, 2020
Vote for one
Watch the Know Your Candidates interview with David Ahrens.
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? I have been honored to represent the Lake Edge and Eastmorland communities on the City Council for the last six years. Among my key accomplishments were the siting and construction of the new Pinney Library, park improvements and soon, the rebuilding of Buckeye Rd.
I have been active in my neighborhood association, tutored students at Allis Elementary and volunteered for the Friends of Pinney. Professionally, for over a decade I was a Research Program Manager at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health where my work focused on the prevention of chronic disease
2. Are there additional steps Dane County should take to ensure that disadvantaged people have access to adequate mental health services? Most Madison police responses involve individuals with major behavioral problems. One in five inmates in the Dane County Jail suffers from a serious mental health problem. I would advocate for the development of a mental health center that is focused on diversion programs for mentally ill individuals who are awaiting trial or have been adjudicated and are not violent. I also support ongoing training of all law enforcement personnel in the best practices in mental health crisis intervention. I do not support the use of solitary confinement for individuals with mental illness.
3. Should Dane County take any actions to facilitate countywide public transit? Please explain. The county’s role in public transit should focus on the establishment of intercity transit between Sun Prairie and Cottage Grove, and Madison. These intercity transit lines should intersect with Madison’s future Bus Rapid Transit line that will be constructed primarily on East Washington Ave. This should help reduce the traffic congestion on Cottage Grove and Buckeye Roads as well as downtown.
I will work to ensure that Dane County’s $28 per vehicle Wheel Tax, which was instituted last year, will be used for transportation improvements including the repair of county trunk highways in the city.
4. Should the County Board take steps to increase public engagement in board and committee deliberations? If so, what would you recommend? If not, why not? Compared to city government, public engagement in county activities and deliberations is relatively low. I have been a member of the city’s Task Force on Government Reform that addressed this issue. One problem is the reduction in news reporting on county issues. However, there are steps that could be taken to enhance citizen access and engagement. First, the web presence of county government should be revamped and greatly enhanced. Second, department functions should be better integrated with the activities of the relevant committees. Third, public meetings should be held in the evenings, especially on major county issues.
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? I excel at bringing together different stakeholders and facilitating effective outcomes. My public health and law education, background working with government bodies, and emergency management expertise will be well utilized on the Dane County Board. At work, I review legislation, ensure compliance, draft policies, and coordinate quality improvement initiatives, ensuring life saving organ donations continue. I earned a JD, a Masters in Public Health and completed a competitive post-Masters fellowship at UW Population Health Institute. I believe everyone deserves to live in a healthy, safe, and affordable community, and I am ready to bring people together for a stronger community.
2. Are there additional steps Dane County should take to ensure that disadvantaged people have access to adequate mental health services? Yes, and I believe with the new state budget, this is finally possible. We need to ensure there are supportive mental health services for all members of our community. Dane County needs to promote access to existing and expanding mental health services. I am looking forward to the recommendations that come from the current mental health study and the solutions we can implement with these recommendations. Additionally, county programs such as Building Bridges, which assists children and families in crisis through partnership with the school districts, is another program I support and would like to expand.
3. Should Dane County take any actions to facilitate countywide public transit? Please explain. Yes. We have to make sure that people who work in our community can also live in it; cost of transportation is a huge part of affordability. Dane County can help facilitate partnerships across jurisdictions. Madison’s new mayor has identified “[c]oordinating and collaborating with Dane County, the School District, and surrounding municipalities” as a critical step to expand public transportation - I will absolutely support and participate in this process. Bus Rapid Transit is our best current option to expand transportation to more job sites during more hours, and meet the increasing demand for non-individual car transportation.
4. Should the County Board take steps to increase public engagement in board and committee deliberations? If so, what would you recommend? If not, why not? Absolutely, and I applaud current efforts such as Engage Dane. I hear from residents that want to be informed of issues and have their concerns and questions heard. They rely on elected officials to inform them of critical issues. I know the value of making fully inclusive decisions and will be engaged with my whole community. Besides providing updates through Next Door and email, I’d like to make myself available in person regularly and hold town halls throughout the district. I am ready to work for and with everyone as an advocate for a healthy, safe, and affordable community.