It's not getting much attention, but there is a County Board race on the ballot this Nov. 4. Two liberals are vying to replace Dave Worzala in Dist. 10 on Madison's west side. (Worzala was appointed county treasurer this summer.)
Brad Wolbert, 50, is endorsed by Progressive Dane and works for the state Department of Natural Resources.
"I have a lot of background in environmental issues," he says. "These are issues the County Board is pretty critical on."
Jeremy Levin, 30, is a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Medical Society. He's also worked in the state Legislature and is endorsed by state Sen. Fred Risser and County Board Chair Scott McDonell.
"We worked together in the Assembly fighting Republicans," says McDonell.
Both candidates support commuter rail and a Regional Transit Authority, with its own taxing ability.
Whoever wins could be appointed to the county's Health and Human Needs Commission, which Worzala used to chair. The commission oversees half the county's $460 million budget, as well as its Human Services Department. In the past year, the state has investigated the department twice over child fatalities in its child protective services unit.
Wolbert doubts he should be on the committee, since he has no human services experience. "I wouldn't want to be more of a burden by having to get up to speed on that stuff."
Levin says that's a key difference between himself and Wolbert. His experience as a health-care lobbyist "makes me very qualified and a more effective advocate. I don't think there would be a long learning curve."
But Levin fails to offer any ideas for how the county should manage its human services budget or what changes it should make in the department. Pressed for specifics about what, exactly, his experience would do for the county, Levin says: "You learn who you need to talk to, to get the right information. You can't know everything about everything." Sounds like a learning curve.
Both candidates see problems with the county's beleaguered 911 Center. Levin says the county should prioritize upgrading the center's computer system, but adds, "I'd want to talk more with the [911 oversight] board and get their opinion."
Wolbert decries the county's failure to release complaints about its 911 service. "They should be willing to share those and, more importantly, they should be working on them."