Ted Krez is doing what he can do drum up opposition to Supv. Paul Rusk, an incumbent has been on the board since 2002. Krez, who manages Lakewood Realty, has assailed Rusk for not supporting a move to add 12 more deputies to the Sheriff's department (which, again for the record, Sheriff Dave Mahoney did not support either). And Krez is making hay over Rusk's vote to give Dane County supervisors a 17% raise, from $7,000 a year to $8,200.
Krez says if elected he won't accept the extra $1,200. He also promises not to seek higher office -- though first he has to win this one. Dist. 12 includes the north side of Madison and Maple Bluff.
The Daily Page: What is the single most important issue for your particular Dane County Board district?
Krez: The north side of Madison, in my humble opinion, is the best place to live in the county. We have Lake Mendota, Warner Park, friendly neighborhood businesses, good hardworking citizens, the airport, and we can be anywhere in the county in "practically" 20 minutes.
However businesses have not been knocking on our door to grow and develop here. To create new job opportunities we must strengthen economic development on the north side. In order to do this we need to alleviate the amount of crime in our district. We can accomplish both and we must for strong sustainable growth.
Rusk: My district is very diverse and includes among the poorest and most affluent neighborhoods in Dane County. The continually evolving presidential election is the biggest topic at the doors! Locally, more people bring up taxes and spending at the doors because we have so many seniors on fixed incomes on the north side, plus I hear growing concerns about economics in general as voters perceive the economy slipping.
I'm proud of my role as a member of the coalition working to keep the county's share of the regressive property tax in check, because all taxpayers deserve sound fiscal management. Through new efficiencies, most northsiders saw a modest decline in the county share of their 2008 tax bills. Personally I worry about the future as demand for county services rises in tough times as revenues decline.
If Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk were to leave office, who would be her ideal successor?
Krez: Someone with administrative experience, who focuses on strengthening our core services and protecting our resources.
Rusk: I don't usually speculate on matters that may or may not happen.
Do you support a Dane County Regional Transit Authority, with its own taxing ability? Why do you think some communities oppose an RTA?
Krez: I support regional transportation planning. I will not make the same mistake as the current supervisor by voting on a plan which lacks key specifics and was rushed through with very little public input. First I want to get a consensus on what problems we are trying to address, then get a consensus on what are the best solutions to those problems and determine if an RTA is the best way to implement those solutions.
I need to know: How the new RTA will interact with existing planning organizations like the Metropolitan Planning Organization or the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission? How the new RTA would be organized and run (elected or appointed officials)? What will be the limits of the taxing authority? What if $45 million a year it raises in sales taxes is not sufficient?
It must be remembered that a sales tax is regressive, affecting people with set and lower incomes the most. Also, we will be asking districts that will derive little or no benefit to help fund the proposed $250 million system.
Rusk: I support creating a regional transportation authority, if it is possible, when and if we obtain state authorization. Hopefully we could include all modes of transportation, including regional buses, roads and highways, possibly commuter rail, and even bikes and pedestrians. I only support the proposed half-cent sales tax if and when it passes in a county referendum. Such a tax may or may not be authorized by the state. Commuter rail is only viable if the federal government pays half.
I'm concerned that we seem to have opposition before much of anything has been worked out, because of lack of communication and a solid plan which must be resolved, especially outside of Dane County. A regional approach could save Madison taxpayers if the costs of Metro were spread out more regionally. As gas prices rise and concerns over global warming grow, I believe you will see growing support for a regional approach to transportation.
Has the County Board become more or less relevant over time?
Krez: The board is very relevant as it administers a more than $400 million budget that funds social services, the airport, the zoo, landfills, county roads and the jail, while providing protective services to towns and some villages.
Rusk: If you consider the context of the County Board in a rapidly growing county, the issues we deal with have always been relevant. This includes how we will grow and simultaneously protect our land and water resources, what more we can do to assist seniors, families and "at risk" kids as state and federal dollars decline, and whether the high quality of life we all appreciate continues. Protecting our environment and cleaning up our watersheds, maintaining a high quality social service system that responds to changing circumstances, and promoting a fair and efficient justice system matter to most voters.
Name the one quality you possess that is most essential to the job?
Krez: As a real estate professional it is essential that I am able to bring two parties together. Having this ability to compromise and create win-win situations has helped in my success and I believe I can bring that to the County Board.
Rusk: I have the ability to work successfully with most anybody and have been successful working with both Republican and Democratic sheriffs, county elected and appointed officials, and my colleagues on the county board. I have strong ethical values about what is right and what is wrong, along with limited ego requirements, which helps me develop consensus to move items forward.
The voters are comfortable with me because nobody can beat my 25 years of community volunteer service on the north side of Madison where we have built community and neighborhood centers, new libraries, and thriving neighborhood associations that are addressing fundamental issues. County government is challenging, and I have proven myself to be productive under difficult circumstances.