For an extreme right-winger determined to bring down the curtain on progressivism in Dane County, Nancy Mistele sure says the darn'dest things.
Mistele's campaign kick-off speech, delivered today from the steps of the City-County Building, contained high praise of the community ("Dane County is the greatest county in the state with treasures beyond our wildest imagination") and an Obamaesque call for, we kid you not, "Change we can believe in."
The former Madison school board member, who's made two unsuccessful runs for state Senate as a Republican, is seeking the job of Dane County executive, which has been held since 1997 by Kathleen Falk, a known Democrat.
Yet Mistele seemed intent on erasing concerns that she would seek a radical break from the past practices.
She promised to "[create] an environment of coordination and cooperation between various sectors of government and private sector," a skill for which Falk is wildly admired. She pledged, surrounded by a phalanx of about 30 supporters, nearly all of them white, to "ensure that all of our children -- black, white, Latino and Asian -- get a great education."
Mistele even made a specific pledge to the county's "gay and lesbian communities" to "maintain the domestic partner registration program and domestic partner benefits for county employees."
That may not be the change some conservatives are hoping for.
Mistele did use some old familiars from the conservative playbook, like trying to exploit concerns about public safety. She focused on recent failures of the county's emergency dispatch system.
"As a citizen, "I understand that if we are ever placed in harm's way, we expect that police will answer the call when we dial 9-1-1," said Mistele, who faulted Falk for not implementing the recommendations of a consultant who warned of problems several years ago.
"As Dane County executive, I will fix the 911 Center, get us the technology we need, hire the dispatchers we need and make sure police are sent to fight crimes, especially violent crimes."
Mistele also expressly promised to accommodate automobiles, which liberals, or course, would like to outlaw.
"If Dane County is to be competitive for jobs, we need safe roads that will move people, goods, and services efficiently," she said. "This includes the North Mendota parkway and other significant routes to move traffic more efficiently and with less pollution."
But Mistele's strongest barb -- one certain to be a centerpiece of her campaign -- concerned Falk's two unsuccessful runs for state office: governor in 2002 and attorney general in 2006.
"I'm asking you to consider this: Do you want someone who is willing to devote all her time and energy to the county's needs ... or do you prefer an executive with one foot in Dane County and another one on a higher rung of the political ladder?"
As if that was not pointed enough, Mistele continued: "Kathleen Falk has had her turn. And now she's looking at Dane County in her rear-view mirror."
If that's true, what she's likely seeing is Nancy Mistele, with her pedal to the metal, trying not to crash.