Mary Thornton is one of three candidates vying to succeed outgoing Ald. Santiago Rosas in representing Dist. 17 at the northeastern corner of Madison. Born and raised in the Madison area, the 50-year-old Thornton works as a stocker at Clasen's Bakery and as an Assembly page.
She serves on the Friends Board of Yahara House (a recovery clubhouse for persons recovering from psychiatric disabilities) and is also on the board of directors for the Mental Health Center of Dane County. Thornton has lived in the district for four years.
A brief interview follows.
The Daily Page: What steps would you take to ensure that the city of Madison provides safe water? Do you approve of the city's two-track process for Well 29?
Thornton: I am just learning about Well 29. I believe there needs to be an investigation into the well along with the other troubled wells. I believe the testing of wells also needs to be more frequent. Why should taxpayers pay for a new well when, as far as I have been able to attain information, no on has put out why Well 29 is not functioning? It would be a waste of money if we just blindly build a new one.
What can the city do to support and enhance transit options for residents of District 17?
Madison transit needs to listen to riders and try to meet their needs. This includes frequency of buses in non-rush hour times. Weekend and nighttime routes are a hindrance to all Metro customers. The trolley is a waste of money for constituents. Light rail would be feasible, especially if funded by all users, not just city of Madison residents.
You say you "will hold the line on taxes without compromising vital city services." What elements in the city's current budget do you think are most eligible for cutting?
Without a budget in sight, it is hard to know where there may be pork. I do know that we need to keep vital services like police, fire, and trash removal (including maximum recycling). Typically, staff and benefits are large-tag items. Some things still may be able to be managed through county and/or state services without losing too many jobs.
As the city grows into the town of Burke, how should development of these spaces proceed? The annexation of the town of Burke is one area I will watch closely. This district will either be extended or have boundary changes. I would like to see green space and farmland kept intact. I would like to see local residents be involved with where developments occur (especially gas stations and strip malls). Keeping some continuity with the current area in the inevitable sprawl of Madison.
You say you are committed to retaining city green space. How would you approach this when it comes to infill development in District 17? I am not as concerned about infill, as long as there would be hearings and permits. I would like people to know we have some nice local parks that have little usage. Maybe more could be developed (including east biking/hiking paths). With the Burke acquisition there is a great opportunity to conserve the green space in this area!
How can the city better approach traffic enforcement within the district, both on East Washington Avenue and on adjacent streets? Traffic enforcement along East Washington Avenue is no more of a problem than on any other Madison artery. Some streets in the district may benefit from speed bumps, such as Mendota Street, Sycamore Avenue and/or Portage Road, for example. However, there are a limited number of police officers to enforce speeding. At any given time, there are deeper problems.
While on the police beat... I also believe the Memphis Model would be awesome to help with mentally ill persons that meet up with problems and the police. There is assuming there are enough officers to work on the project.
Note: Mary Thornton is not currently operating a campaign Web site.