What, if any, is your experience in public office?
Why are you running office?
Local government touches people’s lives in a very direct way. Many decisions with regard to public safety, roads, health and human services, solid waste, public libraries, and many others are made at the local level. I have learned a great deal about local government over the past 6 years. I will work hard to serve the citizens of the Lodi community and continue to be an active voice for them on the Columbia County Board.
What do you bring to the table?
I have a broad knowledge of and passion for local government. Over my 3 terms on the County Board, I have served on several standing committees including: Judiciary, Health and Human Services, Solid Waste, Revolving Loan Fund, and the County Library Systems Board. Currently, I also serve on the County Complete Count Committee for the 2020 Census. In addition to these standing committees, I also attend Human Resources, Executive and Finance Committee meetings on a regular basis. These latter committees often make the decisions that impact county government as a whole, so it is important as a supervisor to stay abreast of their activities. Additionally, I serve as Columbia County’s representative on the South Central Library Systems Board, SCLS. I currently serve as chair of the SCLS Personnel Committee.
During my years of service on the County Board, it has also been my pleasure to become involved with related groups and projects that have been effective in improving the lives of Columbia County citizens and expanding knowledge of county government. PARCC, Prevention and Response Columbia County, which began here in Lodi, has become a vital part of the efforts to combat the drug crisis in the County. I became involved with PARCC at its inception. It was instrumental in securing county funding for the MATRS, Medication Assisted Treatment and Recovery Program. PARCC and the MATRS program has been recognized as model for other drug treatment programs in the State of Wisconsin and elsewhere. To me, it has been a wonderful example of what can happen when local citizens become active, involved, and cooperatively work on an issue. The FLAG, Future Leaders Active in Government, is a program designed for high school students interested in government and provides leadership opportunities for them. It is an educational program supported by UW Extension, and we are fortunate that is is available to Columbia County yourth. It has been gratifying and rewarding to work with FLAG students. I see hope for the future in the creative approaches to contemporary issues that FLAG students have proposed. I believe this knowledge of government and my commitment to public service are strengths I bring to another term as a County Board Supervisor.
What do you feel is role of local government?
I feel the primary role of local government is to work to provide public services to citizens in the most efficient, effective and economical way possible. This means adequately identifying and assessing community needs and developing the best strategies to meet them. Secondly, I feel local government must do its best to be open and accessible to all.
What are your top three priorities or goals?
The demands on county government will continue for the foreseeable future. A major challenge will be meeting those demands to the extent possible with limited financial resources. Columbia County, as do all Wisconsin counties, operate under stringent levy limits imposed by the State Legislature. In addition, many county programs are dependent upon grant funding. An overarching goal for me is to support a level of funding that maintains sustainability programs such as MATRS and others that provide services and care particularly for citizens in need.
My second goal reflects my concern for the environment and keeping areas like Lodi places in which people want to live, work and play. I hope to continue my role on the Solid Waste Committee and work to strengthen Columbia County’s recycling efforts. The County’s recycling program like many others around the nation faces major challenges as the markets for plastics and other recovered items has declined significantly. The County’s recycling program will need to initiate major educational efforts along with considering how it can improve its waste disposal and recycling process.
Third, our County public libraries are wonderful community assets! The roles they perform not only as providers of information resources but provide a variety of programs to meet the needs of children and adults. I will continue to support county libraries and look for ways to increase funding for them.
What, if any, do you feel are obstacles to those goals?
I believe there is broad support for many of the programs I have mentioned, however; funding is always a challenge. The competition for County dollars is intense. Over the past few years, the County Finance Committee has allowed only 1% increase in department budgets. Increasing the funding of any one department or program, though deserving, is extremely difficult. The County continues to be impacted by levy limits set over 10 years ago. Changing the levy limits will require legislation-not an easy task, and increasing taxes is difficult and unpopular.
There is never a lack of issues or challenges for county government. I hope that more citizens will become engaged and involved in local government. We need input from everyone as we address challenges of the present and future. I welcome the opportunity to discuss any of these topics or others with the citizens of Lodi.