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.
Joseph S. Wineke
Current employment: Soon to retire from service as Administrator of the Division of Compensation and Labor Relations in the Wisconsin Office of State Employment Relations.
Campaign website: joewineke.com
Relevant Experience (in 75 words or less): As a member of the Verona City Council, Wisconsin State Assembly, Wisconsin State Senate, and Division Administrator for the State of Wisconsin, as well as service as Chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, Executive Director of the Construction Labor-Management Council and Political Director of the Operating Engineers Local 139, I bring a lifetime of public and private sector experience that makes me uniquely qualified to be the next Dane County Executive.
Please answer the following questions in 100 words or less.
1. Why are you running?
Our quality of life in Dane County is literally under attack, and the stakes could not be higher. The new administration in the capitol has placed Dane County's working families squarely in their crosshairs. Our government workers face double-digit pay cuts which will have a profound, negative impact on local businesses. Cuts in aid to counties will likely mean double-digit reductions in state support. Human resources and public safety will suffer. Now, more than ever, we need experienced leaders who will stand up and fight for the values we share. I am running to literally defend our quality of life.
2. What do you think is the single-most important issue facing Dane County?
The economic impact of a hostile state government on the people of Dane County -- hands down. A significant portion of working men and women across the county are in government service. When the partners, spouses, and children are included, as many as 150,000 people in this county could see cuts in wages and benefits in excess of 15%. This will have a huge economic effect on both the public and private sector, and everyone will feel the crunch. As Dane County Executive, I will do everything in my power to protect and fight for our economic wellbeing.
3. Name an official recently elected in Wisconsin who you admire? Why?
Sen. Tim Cullen. Tim had a successful career in government and business and could easily be enjoying a well-deserved retirement. Instead, he chose to run again for State Senate for one simple reason -- Rock County is reeling economically and he believed that he could help. It is refreshing to see someone step forward and run for office solely to help others. My hat is off to him.
I would be remiss if I did not also mention Sens. Jon Erpenbach and Russ Feingold -- two of my best friends in politics and life. Their service to our state is unmatched.
4. Can you name two-specific areas where county spending can be cut
While I have always been a supporter of environmental protection, we need to consider a moratorium on land purchases. In the last budget, the county spent $3.1 million on land. This is a noble cause, but if cuts to state aid force a choice of laying off sheriffs' deputies, reducing support for our elderly and disabled or buying additional land -- the choice is clear. We also need to explore efficiencies through cooperative efforts -- including police and EMS services. When a citizen is in need, we must find the fastest and most efficient way to provide help, regardless of municipal boundaries.
5. Identify one or two-areas that the county could raise new revenue?
County government does not have many options. The new administration has already indicated significant cuts to local aid. User fee increases have become common, but they often turn out to be regressive. We must explore additional efficiencies and cooperative fee-for-service opportunities with communities. Expanding the role of the Sheriff's Department in policing efforts may be an option. Our best bet is to fight for state and federal dollars. County budgeting will have to be very frugal, and we will need to make tough choices. Protecting funding for human services, public safety and existing infrastructure must be our top priority.
6. Name an initiative or program you would like to launch?
The implementation of FamilyCare will save significant money, both in the short and long run, and will allow our most vulnerable citizens greater independence in their personal and professional lives. Governor Walker's upcoming budget will undoubtedly have a serious impact on the possibilities here, but this is an initiative worth fighting for. Sadly, given our economic and political realities, now may not be the time for many new initiatives. We may be forced to protect what we have.
7. If you were forced to drop out of the race unexpectedly, which candidate would you support and why?
It's a tough call this early in the race. At this point, I'd likely write in Kathleen Falk. We need leaders like Kathleen who are suited to make the tough decisions on spending that will be required, while protecting our progressive values.
Editor's note: Several responses were edited to meet the 100-word limit.