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Ten candidates are competing for five seats on the Dane County Board in the April 3 election. The State Journal editorial board met with each candidate to discuss his or her background and ideas. Below are the five challengers best equipped to represent their districts and the larger community.

District 6

PAM PORTER

This UW-Madison agronomist is an expert on agriculture and water quality, making her ideally suited to protecting county lakes, including Lake Monona, which borders this district on Madison’s Isthmus. Porter already has worked with farmers and urban dwellers to promote clean lakes as the leader of Clean Wisconsin and as an aide to former County Executive Kathleen Falk. And she continues to serve on the influential Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission. Porter offers creative ideas for affordable housing and wants to promote renewable energy. She supports strong mental health and social services, yet promises to promote prudent spending. Her strong opponent, Yogesh Chawla, is impressive. He’s stressing his professional background in computer technology to analyze court and jail data. But Porter’s broader experience and pragmatism make her the best choice.

District 11

KELLY DANNER

This political newcomer is giving longtime incumbent Sup. Al Matano a serious challenge for his seat on Madison’s West Side. Danner is smart, energetic and optimistic. She promises more communication with constituents, and will advocate for the most vulnerable. After 18 years on the board, Matano offers lots of experience and connections. The two candidates share many priorities, such as better public transportation and improved mental health services. But Danner, who helps manage a veterinary business, would bring fresh eyes to stubborn problems, and brainstorm ways around long-standing barriers. For example, she said, if the state won’t allow a regional transit authority to fund a modern and rapid bus system, county officials should explore co-ownership of buses with the city, expand senior cabs or convince more employers to subsidize public transportation for their employees. “There are a lot of options, and we need to be creative,” she said. Voters should give her a chance to shine.

District 15

BRENT RENTERIA

We didn’t endorse Renteria when he ran for the Legislature four years ago. We didn’t think he was prepared for that job. Since then, the IT professional has served two terms on the town of Middleton board, and is very knowledgeable about the challenges facing this district, which includes the town and part of Madison’s Far West Side. Renteria was once homeless and said he will draw on that difficult experience to better inform county efforts to address the problem. He’s not opposed to spending more money on key priorities, but he pledges to scrutinize the county budget for duplication and waste. Renteria better fits the mold of retiring incumbent Sup. Ronn Ferrell, an accountant and budget hawk. Renteria’s opponent, Steven Peters, works at the statehouse and has endorsements from Democratic officials. He’s likable and committed. But Renteria offers voters more independence and insight into district needs.

District 24

TANYA BUCKINGHAM

Monona and neighboring parts of Madison’s East Side have two impressive candidates seeking this open seat. But Buckingham’s extensive experience and knowledge of district neighborhoods make her the best choice. A UW-Madison cartographer, Buckingham likes to track data and trends to inform policy decisions. As a community volunteer and leader, she promises lots of engagement and quick responses to constituents. A big priority for this district along Lake Monona is clean lakes. She’ll work hard on solutions to the “gunk” that often fouls the water’s surface in late summer. Her opponent, Anna Gouker, would be a strong advocate for people with disabilities. We liked Gouker’s sincerity and clear focus. But Buckingham’s deeper roots and leadership roles in the public and private sectors give her the edge.

District 32

JACOB LUGINBUHL

This small business owner whose family has lived in the Verona area for a century promises to scrutinize spending — something the liberal County Board will need more of in the wake of retirements by fiscally conservative members. That includes incumbent Mike Willett of Verona, who has endorsed Luginbuhl for this suburban seat. Luginbuhl is eager to learn and serve. His priorities include encouraging entrepreneurs while ensuring older residents aren’t priced out of their homes. He wants to support cost-effective ways of protecting area lakes. His opponent, Jason Knoll, is a local school teacher and Army veteran with some smart ideas and enthusiasm. But Luginbuhl is a better fit for this district.

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