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.
Current employment: Self-employed, residential rental property (Isthmus Apartments) and Dane County (Supervisor)
Campaign website: eileenforexecutive.com
Relevant experience (in 75 words or less): Resident of Dane County since 1981. BS Florida Atlantic University, Registered Nurse, UCLA and UW Hospital owner and manager residential rental properties. Elected, Dane County Board of Supervisors in 2000 representing Village of Waunakee and Town of Westport for the past 9 years, and Villages of Shorewood Hills and Maple Bluff, and parts of the City of Middleton prior. Vice Chair, North Mendota Parkway Committee. Yahara Lakes Advisory Group, Board Member Yahara Lakes Association.
Please answer the following questions in 100 words or less.
1. Why are you running?
In 11 years as supervisor, I've learned how government works. The economic downturn exposed problems that weren't apparent during the good times. We've had a 10% tax hike in the past two years, questionable budget practices, a proposal to increase the sales tax for train few will use, years of marginalizing businesses, and a pathologic denial that we can continue doing things the same. Fixing these problems requires fundamental change. As a supervisor, I could make small changes; as the executive I will create an environment for economic development and a fiscal policy to better serve the county.
2. What do you think is the single most important issue facing Dane County?
Economic development. Many people don't realize how fragile the economic environment is in the county, or how our economic prospects will diminish if we don't change course. We cannot continue to borrow for daily operating and on-going expenses. With state and federal governments running record budget deficits, it is very likely that we will see cuts in revenues, especially for human services. These cuts will be felt here. Denial is folly.
I would establish a Dane County Economic Development Corporation that would give the business community a meaningful voice. Without that shift in thinking, we will not be able to diversify our economic base.
3. Name an official recently elected in Wisconsin whom you admire? Why?
I admire Scott Walker because of the honesty and his willingness to acknowledge the difficult economic situation we are in. He didn't run for office by sugar-coating unpleasant facts.
I plan to work in co-operation with other officials in state government, not oppose them. This is different from the attitude expressed by other candidates. I believe their attitudes are counterproductive. Although I am not a member of any political party, I have a good working relationship with members of the Legislature and the governor's administration. These relationships make me a better advocate for Dane County than any of my opponents.
4. Can you name two specific areas in which you think county spending could be cut?
I would cut the funds the County uses to purchase rural land. We don't need to buy more farms, but we do need to purchase connecting parcels that will preserve bike, pedestrian, and ski trails.
Taxpayers now pay for 100% of pensions of County employees. In private companies, employers typically pay no more than half of employees' 401K plans. County employees are valuable, but it is unfair for taxpayers to fund such generous pension plans.
I would create a cost consciousness culture. Too many departments penalized when they manage costs well. I will reward rather than punish those agencies that operate efficiently.
5. Identify one or two areas in which the county could raise new revenue.
I will work to maintain or reduce taxes and not support increases in taxes -- property or sales tax. We have a tremendous potential to grow out of this economic slump by cutting red tape and establishing a new more fair relationship with our business community. More jobs leads to increased tax revenue. I think Dane County residents are over taxed, but if anyone in the County feels under-taxed, they can always write a check voluntarily to the County Human Services Department.
6. Name an initiative or program that you would launch?
I would create a Dane County Public Private Economic Development Corporation that respects the business community. Development Corporations have been used successfully by all the counties surrounding Dane, and without it, we risk becoming the 'hole in the doughnut' of job creation.
I would launch a program engaging youth at risk of becoming gang members. I initiated a pilot two summers ago giving young gang members a job and life coaching. The results were spectacular. We are losing too many kids to unacceptable behaviors and neighborhoods need to be protected. The kids need a chance and guidance.
7. If you were forced to drop out of the race unexpectedly, which of the remaining candidates would you vote for and why?
I would write in Jonathan Barry.