Nowhere else does the question of what to do about Dane County's traffic problem loom larger than in Dist. 4. The district, on the west side of Madison, includes the heavily congested University Avenue, Mineral Point Road and Old Sauk Road. So it's not surprising that both candidates picked traffic -- and the proposed Regional Transit Authority -- as the issue that resonates with voters the most.
Incumbent Brett Hulsey is a staunch environmental advocate, who has been pushing commuter rail for a long time. His challenger is Greg Hull, a 20-year-old political newcomer and a UW student.
The Daily Page: What is the single most important issue for your particular Dane County Board district?
Hull: I am knocking on every door in the district and the issue I hear the most concern over is the Regional Transit Authority. Our district would like to see better transportation planning without commuter rail. A better bus system and more bike paths are what we need. Public safety and lake cleanup is also very important to Dist. 4.
Hulsey: Traffic growth is a major concern in my district, especially along University Avenue, Old Sauk, Old Middleton, and Mineral Point Roads. Traffic is growing three times faster than population in the county due to sprawl. To make our streets safer and reduce traffic growth, I support Transport 2020 to expand bus service and give people more travel choices. I also led efforts to get new sidewalks along University Avenue so that children did not have to walk to school in the mud. This was a 40-year priority for the neighborhood.
If Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk were to leave office, who would be her ideal successor?
Hull: I would like to see a problem-solving candidate who combines some experience as an elected official with experience in the private sector.
Hulsey: Should County Executive Falk leave office, we would need someone with broad experience, leadership ability, and business experience to take her place. Many people feel they fit that bill but the people of Dane County will have to decide the best one for the job.
Do you support a Dane County Regional Transit Authority, with its own taxing ability? Why do you think some communities oppose an RTA?
Hull: I don't think some communities oppose the current RTA proposal, I think all communities oppose it. Communities outside of Middleton and Madison will be taxed for a train that won't run through their area. Residents of Madison and Middleton don't see commuter rail solving any of the problems we currently face. Regardless of the plan, trying to ram it through the board on only nine days notice is unacceptable. The residents of Dane County, and specifically Dist. 4, would like to have some input on such a huge investment in our community.
Hulsey: As a member of the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board, I support the RTA concept to provide money for more road improvements, better bus and senior transportation, and commuter train choices, if those are feasible. If approved by the Legislature and the voters, an RTA can also provide up to $30 million in property tax relief to pay for these transportation improvements.
Some communities oppose it because: 1. They don't want $10 million in new road safety investments each year, 2. They are not aware of the many benefits, or 3. They don't like it because it was not their idea. I ask them, "What is their solution to regional planning to reduce traffic chaos?"
Has the County Board become more or less relevant over time?
Hull: The County Board is an important body in terms of the services it administers to the people of Dane County. Between the administration of social services, the jail, the airport, zoo, the Sheriff's office, landfills and environmental programs, county government touches us all. However, the constant bickering on the board and the lack of respect for local governments is making the board less relevant and effective. The occasional digressions into state and national issues do not help the reputation of the board.
Hulsey: The board is more relevant because we are the level of government that delivers services that most other levels talk about. With the state and federal governments being broke, we are also the place where innovative solutions are possible, like the Land and Water Legacy Fund I helped create, with $4 million in new money to clean up our lakes, streams and drinking water.
Name the one quality you possess that is most essential to the job?
Hull: As a realtor, I have mastered the art of compromise. I also keep a very open mind. I don't claim to be an expert on anything, but I promise to seek expert advice on everything. I will be an informed supervisor.
Hulsey: Experience delivering progress for my district and the county. I know how to make progress on making our roads safer, cleaning up our lakes, making our neighborhoods safer based on 10 years on the board and 20 years in the county. My opponent has no experience and has never even voted in a local election.