Isthmus sent email questionnaires to each candidate for Dane County executive. Here is what they had to say about themselves, why they're running and what they hope to achieve.
Joseph T. Parisi
Current employment: State Representative for the 48th Assembly District
Campaign website: parisifordane.com
Relevant experience (in 75 words or less): Dane County Clerk for eight years beginning in 1996. Streamlined and modernized operations to save the county money, fought for critical election reforms, made county government more transparent and accessible. Currently State Representative for parts of the east and south sides of Madison, Monona, Village of McFarland, Town of Blooming Grove, and Town of Dunn. Former President of the Board of Directors at Operation Fresh Start. Served on Board of Directors for Goodman Community Center.
Please answer the following questions in 100 words or less.
1. Why are you running?
I want to make a difference people's lives -- to give back to the community that has given me so much. I'm a former high school dropout who was able to turn my life around because of the kindness of our community. Those citizens made investments in the community that made it possible for me to go from a teenager without a high school diploma to a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly. I want to ensure that our children have access to these same opportunities.
2. What do you think is the single most important issue facing Dane County?
Finding cutting edge ways to create jobs in this economy. Anyone who lives or works in Dane County knows how lucky we are. But we can't rely on inertia. We missed a golden opportunity for dramatic economic development with the demise of high speed rail. We can't afford to lose anymore. We need to prioritize job creation and strengthen our workforce and long-term economic outlook. I will do that by creating the Dane County Office of Economic Development within the County Executive's office. We will work to integrate and coordinate the needs of local businesses, our workforce and our educational institutions.
3. Name an official recently elected in Wisconsin whom you admire? Why?
I have great admiration and respect for Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. She is principled and effective. But what really sets her apart from many other elected officials is the manner in which she conducts herself: In a business too often marked by arrogance, anger, and divisiveness, Rep. Baldwin demonstrates that an elected official can be both humble and effective. She treats her political allies as well as her opponents with humility, dignity, and respect -- proving that one not need be loud and divisive in order to be passionate and effective.
4. Can you name two specific areas in which you think county spending could be cut?
To save money, we must analyze where every dollar is spent and what type of results we are getting for our investment. Every year Fortune 500 companies challenge themselves to find 100 ways to cut costs. They discuss ideas, pick the best, and implement them. The next year they find 100 more because they know you can always work smarter.
That's the approach I'll take as County Executive because that's the approach I took for eight years as County Clerk. I analyzed my office and saved taxpayer money by increasing productivity -- making the office more efficient through the use of technology.
5. Identify one or two areas in which the county could raise new revenue.
We must make Dane County the place that companies and families want to move to and stay in. Right now we have so many talented incubators in the county, but we don't have enough places for them to go once they're ready to manufacture. We can do more to promote the jobs of today -- clean energy jobs -- by making the county a national hub for this important work.
We must work with businesses to make sure they have what they need to create and retain jobs here. That strengthens our workforce and our economy for the long-term.
6. Name an initiative or program that you would launch?
I will make it a priority to make Dane County the clean energy jobs hub of the Midwest -- promoting the use of renewable resources such as solar, wind, and biomass.
I will create the Office of Economic Development within the county executive's office to help current and emerging employers create and retain local jobs. We must have a close relationship with the people that create jobs, and not just in urban areas, but in rural parts of the county as well. Everyone has best practices for job creation, and we won't be able to implement them unless we work together.
7. If you were forced to drop out of the race unexpectedly, which of the remaining candidates would you vote for and why?
All the candidates who are running are good people. I would be happy to support the candidate that best reflected my views and my vision for Dane County.