Dane County District 33 is all about Fitchburg, the suburb located to the southwest of Madison that includes plenty of new development along with green space and farm land. As is the case with many other races for supervisor, the two candidates in 33 -- challenger Nancy Hylbert and incumbent Jack Martz -- differ over the Regional Transit Authority.
The Daily Page: What is the single most important issue for your particular Dane County Board district?
Hylbert: Quality of Life. We value our green spaces and conservation lands, we put a high priority on education and resources for children such as the Early Childhood Initiative. We value our farmland, and we want to make sure our farmer's rights are upheld. We agree with Sheriff Mahoney that public safety Is vital to quality of life. And we agree that we need to keep property taxes in check.
Quality of life in a community does not just happen; it requires proactive planning and a supervisor who listens to her constituents' concerns and votes accordingly.
Fitchburg's current supervisor voted to slash the conservation fund by 80%. This fund provides land for conservation, recreation, and to protect our drinking water reserves. He has compiled one of the worst environmental voting records on the board. I will stand up for the values and priorities of the people of Fitchburg.
Martz: Taxes! As I visit with people during this campaign, the complaint I here most is "taxes are too high". I have worked hard to keep taxes under control as a member of the Personnel & Finance Committee. One of the most effective ways I have found to make sure the taxpayers are getting the most "Bang for their Buck" is to audit programs to see if they are operating efficiently and are effective but most importantly are they still needed. One of the audits I sponsored, reviewed the Planning and Development Department. The auditors made 38 recommendations to areas where efficiencies could be made which would provide better service to customers with cost savings to taxpayers. This is only one way we can take action to control spending.
If Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk were to leave office, who would be her ideal successor?
Hylbert: Kathleen's ideal successor would be someone with a broad base of experience, excellent leadership skills, and budget/fiscal/business experience.
Martz: Mayor Tom Clauder because his experience for 25 years as a Police Officer, 10 years on the Dane County Board and 6 years as Mayor of Fitchburg make him a very qualified candidate for the County Executive's position.
Do you support a Dane County Regional Transit Authority, with its own taxing ability? Why do you think some communities oppose an RTA?
Hylbert: I support the RTA concept, because it will provide money for road improvements, better bus and senior transportation, and transportation choices.
If approved by the State Legislature and the voters, an RTA can provide us in Dane County with up to $30 million in property tax relief to pay for these transportation improvements. If the voters approve, and if it is financially feasible, commuter train choices could be part of the mix.
An RTA can help to manage traffic, so that Fitchburg can grow into a city with its own proud sense of identity, reduce traffic congestion, and reduce air pollution by giving us transportation choices.
The opponents of an RTA, including my opponent, see the potential costs but not the many potential benefits an RTA could provide, including $10 million in road safety improvements each year, and increased bus services to seniors.
Martz: No, because the proposed Regional Transportation Authority would consist of an appointed board. I believe, as many of my constituents do, that the only people who should have taxing authority are people who are directly responsible to the people and such a board would not. Many communities oppose the RTA because of its commuter rail component and the 1/2% sales tax. People in communities outside of Madison and the commuter rail corridor don't feel they would benefit from a commuter rail that travels from Middleton to the Town of Burke. Some of these communities could accept a transportation system that consists of expanded bus service. I am not against having a comprehensive regional transportation plan but it has to be one that is realistic and will be accepted by the people who have to pay for it.
Has the County Board become more or less relevant over time?
Hylbert: The County Board is more relevant now. We on the county board will make far-reaching decisions on quality of life issues that affect Dane County residents every day; land use, transportation, and water quality; social services and criminal justice; public safety and property taxes. We are the level of government that delivers services, allocates funding, and protects our local environment.
The decisions we are making today will create the Dane County of tomorrow. Proactive land and water conservation decisions today will ensure the health and wellbeing of future generations. Enhancing our network of hiking and biking trails, and increasing recreational opportunities for all residents will improve the quality of life in Dane County for generations to come.
Martz: I believe that the County Board has become more relevant over the years mainly because of the need for services. The basic services like Law Enforcement including the Jail, Courts, Health & Human Needs, Transportation, Emergency Medical Services and others are components vital and necessary to our community. As Dane County grows all of these programs have to deal with this growth and are continually being challenged to provide more services with less money. It is the Boards responsibility to meet these challenges so Dane County residents now and in the future can maintain the quality of life we enjoy now.
Name the one quality you possess that is most essential to the job?
Hylbert: I am an excellent communicator, and I have a natural ability to work well with people from all walks of life. As District 33 County Board Supervisor, I will communicate with my constituents on a regular basis. Our current Supervisor rarely makes an effort to find out what is important to Fitchburg residents. Through regularly scheduled community meetings, I will listen to your concerns. Through our conversations at your door, I have learned that my constituents will be one of my best assets on the county board. We in Fitchburg are diverse and intelligent, and we care deeply about what is happening in our neighborhood and in our community.
Through my District 33 newsletter, and monthly articles in our Fitchburg Star, I will work to increase the public's awareness of, and input into current issues before the board, and to spread the good word about county programs and services which you can tap into now, to improve your quality of life.
Martz: Experience! I have served three terms (6 years) on the Fitchburg City Council and I am completing my third term (6th year) on the Dane County Board. I have lived in Fitchburg for over 30 years and have an established record for supporting issues that have a positive impact on Fitchburg and Dane County. My experiences as an Alder, County Board Supervisor, volunteer, parent and grandparent have helped me to work toward finding solutions to questions and concerns raised by many Fitchburg residents. As a member of the County Board I have Chaired or been a member of many important committees like Personnel and Finance, Public Protection and Judiciary, Health & Human Services to mention a few. It is these and other experiences that I bring to the Board.