County Supervisor, District 6
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? I would not only bring new energy and progressive vision to the County Board, but a breadth of educational and policy experience. While working for State Representative Melissa Sargent and previously in the Nebraska State Legislature, I’ve worked on issues like criminal and juvenile justice reform, homeless and runaway youth services, promoting transportation accessibility, and increasing the minimum wage. I also bring other experience from serving on Madison’s Affirmative Action Commission, board member of New Leaders Council-Wisconsin, and member of the Wisconsin Council on Mental Health’s Legislative and Policy Committee.
2. Are there additional steps Dane County should take to ensure that disadvantaged people have access to adequate mental health services? Yes. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the comprehensive review of Dane County’s mental health services, which was included in the 2018 county budget, and hope this will help determine where our services are falling short, especially for low-income persons and persons of color. I also think lived experience and mental health crises are exacerbated by removing folks from their community like we do when we transport residents to Winnebago. We need to invest in local facilities and services for persons with lived experience and persons experiencing a mental health crisis.
3. Should Dane County take any actions to facilitate countywide public transit? Please explain. Yes! Investing in and facilitating public transit isn’t just good for the environment; it’s also a mechanism we can use to address poverty by making employment, job training, child care, education, social services, medical care, and other necessities more accessible. Lack of reliable, efficient transportation is a predictor of income disparity and opportunity inequity, so promoting transportation access—especially outside of urban areas—is critical. Specifically, Dane County should continue pressing the Legislature to allow regional transit authorities, which foster collaboration between local governments to address, jointly govern, share costs, and plan for regional transit needs.
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. But I also think increasing public engagement in the County Board doesn’t start in the City-County Building; it starts in the district itself. If elected, I will host standing office hours and regular listening sessions in District 6. The precursory step to promoting civic engagement and participation in board and committee deliberations is consistently and proactively conducting outreach, seeking input, and providing an opportunity for public discourse. By facilitating engagement in-district, we can then foster participation, transparency, and accountability by providing advanced meeting notices, televising board and committee proceedings, and complying with the spirit of Wisconsin’s open meetings law.
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? As a proven progressive, I have worked to advance policy both from outside and inside government: as Executive Director for the statewide environmental organization Clean Wisconsin and for Madison Audubon Society; Executive Assistant to County Executive Kathleen Falk, Outreach Director for Governor Jim Doyle, and Special Assistant to DPI State Superintendent Libby Burmaster. Currently I am Research Manager at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Integrated Agriculture focusing on sustainable farming and food systems. I serve on the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission and on the Design Coalition Institute board which focuses on community-based planning and affordable, green housing.
2. Are there additional steps Dane County should take to ensure that disadvantaged people have access to adequate mental health services? Yes. Up to 38% of those in jail have mental health issues. I support reviewing ordinances and lowering penalties where we can for non-violent crimes, expanding treatment, deferred prosecution and diversion efforts for people with mental illness and expanding NAMI’s crisis intervention training for first responders so they better understand, recognize, respond and refer people with mental illness to treatment rather than jail. In 2018, the County will review its mental health services. I will review the results of this study, listen to community leaders and make recommendations for more efficiently addressing the needs of those struggling with mental illness.
3. Should Dane County take any actions to facilitate countywide public transit? Please explain. Yes. Dane County anticipates 120,000 more people by 2030, and we desperately need a modern, efficient, regional transit system to minimize road expansion, protect natural areas, promote sound land-use and connect people to jobs. Dane County has the authority now and should explore creation of a joint transportation commission while partnering with local communities to seek state approval for a future regional transit authority to provide regional governance and sales tax to support transit infrastructure. The County should seek state approval to design a sliding fee-scale wheel tax based on miles driven, car value or size, or car owner income.
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? Yes. Too often, government processes and decision-making are a puzzle. They shouldn’t be. Because we are living in a time of diminished press coverage, I support a transparency task force to identify new, creative ways (i.e. an app contest for digital applications) to engage the public and make the County Board more transparent, open and accountable. I support livestreaming County committee meetings, starting by prioritizing standing committees and evaluating the impacts. We have an electronic voting system and could use it to record every vote. We should continue to improve the County’s electronic legislation tracking system, Legistar, possibly adding alerts.
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? I have deep roots in District 6. I serve on the SASY neighborhood council, and on the organizing committee of a revitalized Atwoodfest. As a City of Madison Election official, I’ve registered voters, worked the polls at the Wil-Mar Center and as an absentee ballot courier for early voting at Hawthorne Library. I have volunteered for numerous local campaigns as a Progressive Dane Steering Committee member and Democratic Party activist.
Professionally, I am an award-winning public safety software developer. The open source software I have written has helped jurisdictions save thousands of dollars and thousands of staff hours.
2. Are there additional steps Dane County should take to ensure that disadvantaged people have access to adequate mental health services? 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.
We must immediately merge justice and health data so we can appropriately identify and treat people who are seriously mental ill and booked into jail in order to increase staff and inmate safety.
3. Should Dane County take any actions to facilitate countywide public transit? Please explain. Transportation is a serious equity issue in Dane County. Affordable housing is not located close to jobs and economic centers, and underserved and rural communities are isolated by a lack of transportation options and comprehensive bus service.
The county must invest in multi-modal transportation solutions that aren’t solely car-focused and expand bike routes, car/van pools and public transportation.
Dane County needs to partner with Madison Metro and other municipal transportation entities to invest in efficient county wide rapid bus service. Transportation investments must use an equity lens and we should immediately fund bus passes for SNAP recipients and Beacon patrons.
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? 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. This reduces the ability of our residents to participate and leaves a gap in accountability. Modern streaming technology allows sharing video at the click of a button. I will lead the charge to ensure committee meetings are recorded and publicly available.
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.
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? From working in mental health at a psychiatric center to starting a small business in San Francisco, I'm familiar with overcoming barriers and have the determination/creativity to bring fresh solutions. I envision a day when we can all swim in our lakes without worry. A County where people of color feel welcomed and supported and a diverse group of women comprises half our government. I currently serve on my neighborhood (SASY) board and chair the environmental committee. My life of public service includes serving in the Peace Corps and working/volunteering for environmental, marriage equality, and progressive political campaigns.
2. Are there additional steps Dane County should take to ensure that disadvantaged people have access to adequate mental health services? In Dane County, women experiencing mental health breakdowns are further traumatized as they are sent to Winnebago, a jail-like facility two hours north. This is unacceptable. As someone who lost my father to depression when I was 2, I have long understood the importance of accessible mental health care and of providing a healing environment. Too many members of our community experiencing homelessness and incarceration lack access to high-quality mental health care. Dane County does many things well for mental health, but we can serve our community better by investing in more people-centered solutions such as a crisis restoration center.
3. Should Dane County take any actions to facilitate countywide public transit? Please explain. Yes. Public transit promotes social equity and provides people better access to jobs and other important destinations. I’ll work for a more equitable and accessible transportation system by speaking with communities of color and people with disabilities in determining solutions. Public transit also supports sustainable development and reduces our environmental impact. There are many exciting and fast-evolving technologies becoming available in transportation such as electric cars, electric buses, and autonomous vehicles that have the potential to increase access to transit and clean up our transportation system. I support a comprehensive plan that embraces these technologies and integrates land use planning.
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? Yes, absolutely. The County Board makes important decisions that affect us all and most of the discussions and decision-making happens in committees. I support past and future efforts to live-stream/record these meetings. We should also take into account that many people aren’t aware that these meetings exist. As a supervisor, I plan to engage my constituents through social media, community gatherings, and outreach especially to communities who are directly affected by legislation and may not have access to transportation or computers. I also plan to make the process of how to serve on committees more transparent and open.