I am running for Alder because I believe regular people can make a real difference and I want to bring the people’s voice into local government. I am passionate about representing community interests and pledge to support policies that put people first, and create smart growth for a strong Fitchburg.
What are the most important issues facing your district?
The issues we face are much the same as our state and nation. Responsible government, affordable housing, and transportation are some of them. Underlying all of these is the current state of equity in Dane County and Fitchburg, and how we can continue to improve our community for everyone.
What should the city’s growth priorities be? And should the city be encouraging growth to the east?
Our growth agenda must put people first. Development that provides family supporting jobs with benefits and respects our community is essential. Protecting Fitchburg’s natural beauty, exercising conscientious stewardship of taxpayers’ dollars, and listening to the community are crucial duties of our city government and must improve. We must avoid overbuilding and protect the Waubesa wetlands, while utilizing smart development for responsible growth. The Common Council must be practical and avoid unneeded expenses for taxpayers, and more fully utilize the neighborhoods we already have ready for development before paving over more rural areas.
If you had unilateral control, what is one thing you would have changed about the 2015 budget?
I would fund intra-city transit. While Fitchburg lacks a central school system to bring the community together, we have wonderful amenities like our Senior Center, Library, and Splash Pad. Expanding access with more transit options would provide more residents the opportunity to enjoy these public features and strengthen our community.
Does the city have an ethical responsibility to financially support the Verona Area Needs Network and its food pantry operations as it expands and moves closer to Fitchburg this year?
VANN does outstanding work in supporting the Verona school community, and they assist many residents of Fitchburg. I believe our city has an obligation to support VANN to assist with their important work, while also working to address the root causes of the problems that make their work necessary.
Is there a way to bring the frequently disagreeing elements of the council together?
People are tired of rancor, and the failure of politicians to seek compromise threatens the integrity of our democracy itself. Making space for people to share new ideas and fresh thinking creates greater innovation. I embrace the definition civil discourse as being ‘robust, honest, frank and constructive dialogue and deliberation that seeks to advance the public interest.’ The council must work together to have thoughtful conversations about public matters of common concern. We need pragmatic and open discussion about the issues, based on evidence and argument, coupled with the willingness to learn from each other and consider all perspectives.
In the new age of social media and the Internet, does the city have a responsibility to increase its outreach efforts with citizens? What should be the top priority in that regard?
Actively engaging residents in problem solving is essential and allows them to contribute to positive, community-based solutions. However, we need to be mindful that not everyone has routine Internet access. Funding neighborhood association newsletters and providing transportation to city functions are two concrete ways to enhance outreach and engagement.
If budgets and spending limits did not prevent it, what is one project you would champion to improve the quality of life in Fitchburg?
Building light rail to Downtown Madison would take Fitchburg into the 21st century. The development in other cities along this very popular mass transit option proves it’s a triple win – better for people, the environment, and the economy. Regional transit connecting Madison and its neighbor cities could greatly expand opportunities.
What is the best thing about Fitchburg?
Fitchburg is a unique community with both rural and suburban areas. We are positioned in a key corridor between Epic in Verona and Downtown Madison. With our park system, bike trails, and community amenities we offer the best of rural and urban lifestyles and provide an outstanding quality of life.
What does the city really need to work on?
Fitchburg is at a crossroads regarding growth. Our location makes us extremely desirable for development, and we need to make sure it’s done responsibly and considers everyone. We don’t want to sacrifice the character of Fitchburg and jeopardize the qualities that make us a great community to work and live.