Madison enacted a controversial indoor smoking ban in 2005, and now Gov. Jim Doyle is proposing a similar indoor ban -- including in bars -- for the entire state.
This week, Isthmus asks the mayoral candidates what their position is on the current ban.
Their responses follow below.
The Daily Page: What's your position on Madison's indoor smoking ban?
I didn't support the smoking ban because I feel such legislation is best considered at a regional or state level. Even though I don't support the ban, as mayor I won't push for its repeal. I would rather use the mayoral bully pulpit to make Madison a "City of Opportunity and Hope" by fighting crime and poverty, and working to build a closer relationship between the school district and city hall.
A smoking ban is currently being discussed at the state level, where it should be discussed. Meanwhile, I would urge the city council to make a priority of fighting crime and poverty, as they are the most serious issues facing Madison. These issues, while not visible to everybody right now, need to be discussed now.
I strongly support the smoking ban. Workers and customers have a right to breathe clean air. I weathered a recall attempt over the issue and I will fight any attempt to weaken it at the state or local level. The smoking ban protects bar employees, musicians and patrons from secondhand smoke and the cancer and heart disease that it can cause.
The issue of banning smoking in Madison has been debated for too many years. After exhaustive debate and public input, the city made its decision to establish a strong ordinance. Although there was no public referendum, the ordinance seems to have significant support from city residents.
Now Gov. Doyle has brought the issue statewide by proposing to enact statutes banning indoor smoking. Such statutes would create a level playing field for businesses that have been disadvantaged by the ordinance. Madison businesses that operate close to our municipal borders have difficulties competing with nearby businesses that are not restricted by the ordinance.
Madison is confronting critically important issues that we need to address so that we can make the city a more livable place for all of us. These issues include a rising crime rate that threatens our neighborhoods, affordable housing and taxes, jobs that pay a living wage, clean water and quality municipal services, an affordable and effective public transportation system, and bringing fiscal responsibility and common sense solutions to city government.
Therefore it makes sense for Madison to let the state address the smoking ban issue so we will not be distracted from addressing our most important priorities.
As mayor I would be required to have Madison comply with any state law to be enacted.