ELECTION 2012 | DANE COUNTY BOARD DISTRICT 2
Two candidates are seeking the open seat in the Dane County Board’s District 2. The position is for a two-year term.
Family: Wife and 1-year-old daughter
Address: 304 N. Pinckney St., Madison
Public service: Past president of Capitol Neighborhoods; Downtown Madison, Inc.; Dane County Emergency Medical Services Commission
Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science from UW-Madison, 2000
Heidi M. Wegleitner
Family: Husband P.T. Bjerke
Address: 1941 E. Dayton St., Madison
Public service: Current board president of the Tenant Resource Center; board member of the Madison Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and Public Interest Law Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin; Steering Committee member of the Emerson East Neighborhood Association; Progressive Dane Housing Task Force chairwoman; and member of the Madison Affordable Housing Action Alliance and Labor Forward
Education: Law degree, University of St. Thomas School of Law, 2005; Bachelor’s degree, UW-Madison, 2001 (majors: women’s studies, political science; certificate: American Indian studies)
Q: Why are you the best candidate for this post?
Plotkin: My work experience gives me a significant amount of knowledge in the practical aspects of legislating, particularly on issues that affect people who rely on county government to provide vital services. The ability to hit the ground running is essential for a county board member who doesn’t have dedicated staff.
Wegleitner: As a public interest attorney, I work with low-income people and people with disabilities. I know the county’s human service programs and the barriers people face in accessing them. I volunteer with my neighborhood association and community organizations and co-chair my labor union’s bargaining unit. Ten Board supervisors are endorsing my candidacy.
Q: Do you agree with the county’s decision to extend its labor contracts before Gov. Scott Walker’s new collective bargaining law took effect? Why or why not?
Plotkin: I agree with the decision to renegotiate labor contracts. Dane County has a long tradition of fair and open negotiations with its workforce. This has led to high-quality staff and services at a cost that are up for review by the electorate at the next election.
Wegleitner: Yes, I unequivocally support workers’ collective bargaining rights. It’s democracy in the workplace. We won’t solve our budget problems by dividing our communities and undervaluing our public workers. The attacks on public sector unions have weakened our local economies. As the co-chair of United Legal Workers, I know that negotiations find real solutions.
Q: How do you evaluate the county’s borrowing and capital spending practices?
Plotkin: A good indicator that Dane County has sound fiscal policy is the ratio of debt service to total expenditures. A good ratio is less than 11 percent to 12 percent. The 2011 Dane County budget was just under 3.5 percent. In the last 15 years, the ratio has rarely been higher than 5 percent.
Wegleitner: In these difficult times, Dane County has done well with its budget practices. We must invest in our physical infrastructure and in public safety, so that our communities can thrive. Over the long term, I support a greater prioritization of public transportation investment and efforts to rebuild county reserve fund balances.
Q: Should the county acquire more or less land than it has in the past for conservation and recreation? Why?
Plotkin: The acquisition of land in Dane County for conservation and recreation is important for future generations, tourism, the environment and responsible development. Each potential sale must be weighed against available funding and the expected use of the land for the future.
Wegleitner: The county should continue to protect its water and other vital natural resources. When environmentally important land parcels become available, especially at low prices, it is wise for the county to invest in our public health and environment. The county should also work with private partners to increase the impact of our limited conservation funds.