brett hulsey
Brett Hulsey

Brett Hulsey, a longtime Dane County supervisor with a reputation as a friend of the environment, announced Thursday he will run for the seat of retiring Rep. Spencer Black's seat.

Hulsey, who was considered by many to be among a short list of candidates to run for the Democrat's seat in the 77th district that includes portions of Madison, Middleton, and Shorewood Hills, is citing his record of job creation and environmental stewardship as his strengths for seeking higher office. Republican Dave Redick, a Madison businessman, announced he is running for Black's seat earlier this week.

Hulsey, 51, said he returned from vacation last week and was surprised to read in the local paper that Black had announced his retirement. Hulsey said he thought Black would retire soon, but not for another year or two.

That said, Hulsey said he is ready to make the move to higher office, despite the fact he just won re-election to his Dane County Board seat with 68 percent of the vote. He has been a Dane County supervisor for 12 years.

The owner of Better Environmental Solutions and an employee of the Sierra Club for 17 years, he says initiatives aimed at clean air, water and energy top his list of priorities to tackle at the statewide level.

The Clean Jobs Acts, a big effort of Black's that died in the Legislature on Earth Day before receiving a vote, is a bill that Hulsey says may have had too many good, ambitious plans for one bill.

"That bill was so big and complicated," Hulsey says. "We need to break it down. We don't have to climb the mountain in one jump."

Improving the state's school funding formula also is a priority for Hulsey.

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He said with two children attending public schools in Madison, he is interested in changing the school-funding formula, which he says  penalizes areas like Madison and Middleton for encouraging smart growth and expanding city tax bases.

"When cities increase their tax base, they lose state aid for schools," Hulsey said. "That's crazy."

Hulsey's first campaign meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Vintage Brewing Co., 674 South Whitney Way.