Saturday, January 29, 2011

New button! (and Thank You! to folks)

First off, I need to thank Mary Mullen for agreeing to be my campaign Treasurer!

Now it's time to start asking "everyone I know" (as my mentors put it) to help pay to get the word out. Since I live so much of my life online, I added a donate button to both this blog and to make it easy for folks. You can donate either through a Paypal account or directly via a credit or debit card.

The vast majority of donations will go toward printing costs so I and volunteers can walk the district to knock on doors, visit with folks, and leave information for them. I'm told that every person needs to be contacted a minimum of 3 times and, hopefully, 5 times (with 2,850 registered voters in the district!) That is a lot of walking.

If we're not able to talk to people, such as those that live in apartment buildings with locked lobbies, we'll send them mail a couple times as well as likely making some phone calls... depending on how much volunteers can be available.

Which brings up the next question. I need people who like to walk and talk (and are willing to say nice things about me!) to help out. Even if you'd prefer to stay in your warm house, I'd still love to have some help, especially if you enjoy talking on the phone.

My next huge Thank You! goes to Jacque Pokorney for offering to be my Campaign Manager. She will be the main traffic cop so I can concentrate on visiting with voters. So if you volunteer for me, she'll help you get plugged into doing what you'd like to do. (And I'm guessing she's in charge of the victory party that you'll be invited to as well!)

Monday, January 17, 2011

The ongoing saga of volunteering to jump into the deep end...

Just a quick update

Sitting among people that have been in office, or considering running, or having worked on campaigns for years now, I declared myself a total political newbie at the Camp Wellstone Action training program this past weekend. I learned a whole lot and will be using much of it in my campaign (don't look for me on TV, ok?!?)

I will be making the rounds to continue to visit with folks in my district, as well as using volunteers to help distribute litature and speak on my behalf. So people can look for me out and about the area, or email me with invitations to talk in person.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

League of Women Voters Questionnaire

These are the replies I sent in response to the League of Women Voters questionnaire (responses limited to 100 words each):

1. What educational, professional, civic, and community experiences have you had that you believe qualify you for this elective office?

Since buying my house in 2002, I’ve been working toward making the Allied Drive area a safe and productive community. Because the area closely links Fitchburg and Madison, there is a lot of crossover between the two cities. I participate in most related meetings, in both cities, and have good working relationships on both sides. I’ve closely followed planning for the Beltline / Verona Road project over the years, plus have contributed to many land use and SmartCode Charrettes along with other Fitchburg events. People have encouraged me to run because I already do the work and am so involved!

2. What are the most important issues facing the community you seek to represent?

Improving the Allied area will continue to remain a focus, with a lot of exciting projects coming up, involving cooperative efforts between Fitchburg and Madison. The highway construction project will generate many conversations in my district, and cause significant disruption for everyone in the area. The economy is going to remain interesting for a number of years yet. Projects to watch for in the near future include a new fire station (and plans for the old), the new library, new businesses and expansions of existing businesses. I’m looking forward to learning more about parts of Fitchburg outside my corner of it!

3. What criteria will you use to balance economic growth, environmental concerns, and land use planning and regulation?

I am a strong advocate of sustainable planning and eagerly followed Fitchburg’s implementation of SmartCode zoning. I recognize the value of quality construction and aesthetics but keep a strong eye on costs. Through my involvement in community gardening, I’ve developed a strong interest in urban agriculture and hope to be able to help develop an urban ag center in Fitchburg. As the owner of the local group, I’ve been working toward reducing landfill waste by encouraging reuse of unneeded items. I choose to live modestly and tread fairly lightly in my use of natural resources.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Last of the grilling (which I did enjoy)

You learn a lot about youself when you have to do this!

  1. What is your philosophy regarding the city budget, taxes, spending, and services?
I have no set philosophy, other then a general sense that money needs to be spent carefully and with great consideration toward how much is enough. Many people have far more then enough, and many have far less. “Enough” is a pretty slippery term, I know, but it at least gives a sense of scale. I’d like to see people have enough work, enough food, enough housing, enough health care, enough free time and recreation, enough children, enough care and education for their children. I could probably go on, but won’t.

  1. In what ways are you currently active in your district and the community at large?
Hopefully the answer to that is fairly clearly indicated in my responses above. Organizations I’ve been working with in the area include Allied Area Task Force, CDA and Allied subcommittee, Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood Association, Allied Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood Association, Communities United, CAC Community Gardens, Madison Fruits and Nuts, Allied Partners, Prairie Unitarian Universalist Church, Allied Wellness Center, Growing Power (Milwaukee area), Center for Resilient Cities and the Badger School project, various permaculture interest groups, Fitchburg SmartCode zoning process, and others.

  1. Please tell us about your campaign team, fund-raising efforts, and your plan to win the election.
I have no campaign team, nor funding at this point. Traditionally this seat has been hard to fill, so I’m somewhat surprised that I have an opponent at all. I’ve been enjoying visiting with folks in the district and hope to do a lot more of that between here and there. I suppose I will soon determine a need for yard signs and some kind of mail campaign. My focus tho, even as I’ve visited with folks already, has been on learning more about the people and issues which will be important to know in order to represent them well.

  1. Please review the Progressive Dane Candidate/Elected Official Expectations.  After review, what will you do to help build Progressive Dane?

-          Working collaboratively with their constituents, other progressive elected officials, and Progressive Dane’s task forces and committees to implement progressive policy.
-          Publicly identifying as affiliated with Progressive Dane and attending Progressive Dane fundraising and outreach events.
-          Articulating progressive positions in the media and other forums.
-          Helping elect other candidates endorsed by Progressive Dane; remaining publicly neutral in races where they do not agree with the endorsement of the organization.
-          Presenting information at Progressive Dane’s General Membership Meetings and write articles for the Progressive Dane newsletter. Lend their name to fundraising and membership recruitment efforts.
-          Helping increase the Progressive Dane’s membership by hosting or being the featured guest at house parties, by personally recruiting new members and by working with Progressive Dane’s staff to encourage their supporters to become members.
-          Recruiting progressive candidates for elected office.

Since I already do so much in and for the area, which I will continue doing whether I’m elected or not, I’d hope to be excused from overly active participation. If it’s a condition of support, I’d probably have to opt out.

10.               What would you do if something like the follow situation arose: You are running for election/reelection in Dist X.  You have a good relationship with the incumbent in District Y whom you feel is a good representative for her district.  However, Progressive Dane has endorsed a different candidate in District Y.
I want to have a good working relationship with whoever is in a seat. If Progressive Dane endorses one candidate over another, I will assume they had good reason (and, in that scenario, it was probably hard to choose which to support!)

11.                PD elected officials try to meet with each other on a regular basis.  Currently the City Caucus meets on Sunday evening before each Council meeting.  These meetings are important for information-sharing and airing of different opinions.  Will you commit to attending on a regular basis? 
As long as the meetings prove to be of value to me, as a non-Madison official, I’d probably look forward to attending. I’m closely enough tied to Madison that I have to presume I’d participate.

More questions, and answers (and still not finished!)


  1. Frequently asked questions in the campaign are likely to be public safety, water, traffic, and city subsidies to private and public projects (Edgewater, Overture Center).  Please share your thoughts on these issues.
Not real certain how well the last part translates into Fitchburg specific questions but I’m certainly accustomed to at least the public safety question as it relates to the Allied area, and, I’d presume, in less intensive ways, to most of Fitchburg. We’ve found that communication is key. When the Police Department has a good relationship with the community, anyone that intends to do harm becomes much less comfortable about being in the area and it goes a long way toward solving itself.

There have been many questions about traffic considerations as part of the Highway 151 project, which has obviously been a primary focus for me. Answers to how storm water will be handled as part of the project is vital since it ultimately finds its way through the neighborhood and into Dunn’s Marsh. The Neighborhood Associations in the area have asked the DOT to give greater consideration to storm water management than is indicated in their Environmental Impact Statement to this point. (Concerns about sound and air pollution have also been expressed.)

I’ve paid close attention to meetings and discussions about Edgewater, as well as watched hours worth of meetings on the Overture Center. I just hope that Fitchburg won’t have issues as contentious as those to work through! Through bits of involvement in city meetings in Fitchburg, I have gained some sense of what is to come as it involves subsidized projects, though I have not been directly involved in any of them. I look forward to getting a better understanding of how those pieces of the puzzle all fit together in Fitchburg.

  1. Please review the enclosed PD City Platform and tell us:
a.      What are the top three PD issues that you want to work on as an elected official?
As part of the work I’ve been doing in the Allied area, I’ve already been actively working in the areas of affordable housing, public services, and sustainable economic development. It’s awful hard to pick just 3, even if I don’t look at the lists under the headers!
b.      Are there any PD positions that you disagree with?
I’m glad to see that there is a County Platform document on your website as well. I was concerned that Progressive Dane was really Progressive Madison! Truthfully, I’ve been dug in doing good stuff in my corner of Fitchburg/Madison and haven’t studied all the information available. In the quick overview, I’d have to say, good job trying to get it right for most of the people. The bulk of the folks you seem to be concerned with are those that are least likely to be otherwise represented.
c.       Are there PD positions that you need to know more about?
At this point, my head is busting with new information. I’ll learn more in time.
d.      Are there issues not included in the PD City Platform that you want to prioritize?
Same answer as c.

  1. Progressive Dane has worked on issues like living wages, paid sick leave, affordable housing and keeping bus fares down.  What would you suggest we do to help people struggling in our community?
What I’ve been doing in the Allied area is promoting ways that the community can become more productive among themselves, taking care of themselves and one another. I’d like to see efforts, from above and below, that encourages everyone to recognize the human potential in every one of us. I’d like to see Progressive Dane encouraging and supporting service providers, employers, city staff, and others in giving a hand up to those who need it. I’d like to see less hand-out’s, and more hand-up’s.  

Wow! Progressive Dane asks tough questions!

As closely aligned as I might be with Progressive Dane, I'm reluctant to be identified with any one group. I represent the interests of all the people, and don't like the idea of causing some to feel as though I'm not going to pay attention to their concerns by being in one camp or another.

That said though, I will answer the questions from Progressive Dane, for myself, if nothing else. I've only gotten through the first two. Here's the questions and how I'm responding:

  1. What, in your view, is the most serious issue facing Fitchburg, and what can the City Council do about it?
As is the case everywhere, the economy still presents significant challenges. Specific to Fitchburg, there is a balance that needs to be found to be able to prioritize what the city must do, can do, wants to do, and can do without. There are many and varied points of view that need to be considered. The City Council needs to continue to encourage conversations with all the involved parties, particularly area residents, to help find the correct balance.

  1. What do you think the top campaign issues are likely to be in your district, and how will you frame them?
In my district, one of the biggest issues over the next number of years will be the DOT’s Highway 151 interchange project, which will involve replacement of the Beltline bridges over Verona Road as well as significant restructuring of Verona Road between the Beltline and Hwy PD. The project will have significant impact for the district on both sides of Verona Road . I would hope that will be a significant part of the campaign discussion.

Secondly, the portions of the district surrounding Allied Drive will continue to be an issue. I’ve already been working to help the community, in both the Madison and Fitchburg portions, become a productive neighborhood and would be happy to speak on that in the campaign.

Third would be discussions that are already taking place about building a new fire station within the district, along with how to make the best continued use of the existing station. At this point, I still only have a rough idea of what has been being discussed, but am eager to learn more in time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Off and running!

It's official, I have an opponent. So I get to go out and meet more of the folks in the district. I don't mind that at all, other than it means I won't be able to devote that time to attending other meetings and getting to know the people and the issues in parts of Fitchburg that I don't have an opportunity to reach very much.

In the meantime, I made up a quick website that mirrors this blog inside of it so I'll be able to add information in ways that I can't do with just the blog. Look for that at

One place I wanted to visit when I was talking to folks about running was the area nearish me, in the Dunn's Marsh neighborhood, adjacent to Tom Ellefson's property near the Boy's and Girl's Club. Folks in that area can watch for me probably this week yet. There are some pretty exciting plans afoot that I'm going to want their thoughts on.

After that, I want to talk with people that will be affected by the Verona Road / Beltline Construction project that live near the Seminole Highway & Sentinel Pass intersection. The construction project is going to create havoc getting out of the neighborhood onto Seminole.

I might need better winter walking shoes!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Rumor has it...

There may be someone else running. How fun ever! Not that I want extra time and expense, but I would look forward to a chance to not only find out from others in the district what is important to them, but also to further define what I would want to work toward in this district as well as throughout Fitchburg.

Obviously my focus over the years has been helping to shape the extended Allied community into a positive, productive area. I want to help build true neighborhoods, like those that existed when I was young, where people not only know their neighbors, but that they have means of gathering in casual ways, as neighborhoods, where they meet at neighborhood business, or block parties, parks, or even on one another's front porch.

But, I've also been paying close attention to some of the bigger issues. I've been particularly interested in the SmartCode zoning that was recently adopted. It follows fairly closely with my thinking about neighborhood planning. (In fact, the profile picture I use here and on Facebook was taken one of the days of the SmartCode Charrettes.) I've also been pretty intensively involved in the Verona Road / Beltline construction project, having attended almost all public meetings, and meeting privately (and productively) with people from the DOT and Strand Associates.

One of the big things I see coming up in the near future is a new fire station that will include training facilities. I think it will be very well placed and will be a great addition to the city. I would look forward to supporting that, as well as discussions about what to do with the current facility that it will be replacing.

The library is very exciting, and will be another great addition, and a wonderful gathering spot. There has been some talk about finding ways to increase the reach of the library into the more distant parts of Fitchburg. I will certainly take part in those discussions!

I'm liking seeing the growth of business as well, and the greener it gets the better I like it. I will have a hard time supporting things that will be ultimately detrimital to the environment, so I'm really, really glad that the people of Fitchburg want to be aware of the environment and sustainability issues.

Hope everyone has every thing they need in the new year!!