Political experience: La Crosse County Board supervisor and City of La Crosse council member, Serve on County Veterans, Aging & Long Term Care, Committee, Commission on Aging, County Executive Committee, La Crosse Regional Airport board; chair, Redevelopment Authority, Floodplain Advisory Committee chair, chair of city of La Crosse Judiciary & Administration Committee
Why are you running for office?: As your County Board supervisor and City Council member, I am committed to keeping our taxes low, maintaining infrastructure and advocate for more affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization. As a resident of the city of La Crosse for 53 years, I have had the privilege of living and working in one of the most beautiful counties in the state. My commitment to this area is evident in my dedication to government service and professional and community activities.
The county maintains 282 miles of roads and 69 bridges and has a backlog of roads that require millions of dollars in repair. Should the county raise more money to expedite those repairs – and how?: The La Crosse County Highway Department, like in all counties in Wisconsin, is experiencing basically the same problems with lack of funding for roads and bridges. We are fortunate that we were able to increase in our capital budget $5 million in bonding to repair some of our infrastructure. We continue to apply for grant funding as well.
Should La Crosse County help fund collaborative efforts with other municipalities in the county?: Any collaboration between municipalities is important to reduce costs, building better relationships and achieving less duplication of services. We have a strong community and should be putting more emphasis on regional cooperation
Is the county doing enough to provide assistance to those struggling with drug abuse?: We can always improve of course and do more. Proud of the work of La Crosse County Health & Human Services which provides a great resource in Justice System Services, Treatment Courts, Adult Services, electronic monitoring, drug and alcohol testing, cognitive behavioral groups as well. Provide an improved Juvenile facility as well. We have a diverse Criminal Justice Management Council which was established by resolution in 2000 to divert low risk individuals from the justice system, decrease the use of probation for low-risk individuals, to create a better future of victims, offenders and communities. We achieve better outcomes when we work together collaboratively.
What success and challenges do you see in the county’s jail and court system?: The successes are we were able to build a $29.8 million addition to the Law Enforcement Center that provided a new kitchen, jail garage, booking master control, two 57-bed direct supervision blocks, increased programmed space and remodeling three existing housing blocks along with improved medical care and receiving holding area. Also providing an education and programing room for those who are incarcerated. So important to work with the county court justice system to seek a coordinated and accountable collaboration with stakeholders and community engagement.
Political experience: This write-in campaign is my first run for elected office. My appointment as a citizen member of the Criminal Justice Management Council in 2017 has provided opportunities to get comfortable working within county systems and structures, and opportunities to collaborate with county officials and representatives of key stakeholder groups.
Why are you running for office?: I am deeply committed to improving the quality of life for my neighbors on the Northside and across the county. I am eager to bring my experience, skills and perspective to the table where legislative and programming decisions are made at the county level. My involvement in public service includes citizen membership on the Criminal Justice Management Council, membership in the Logan Northside Neighborhood Association, earning the inaugural YWCA La Crosse 2019 Linda Riddle Community Advocate award for my advocacy for vulnerable and marginalized populations, and most recently joining the Alliance to HEAL. I am a 20-year resident of the Northside, a Northside business owner of five years, a licensed substance-abuse counselor for more than a decade, a volunteer and a parent.
The county maintains 282 miles of roads and 69 bridges and has a backlog of roads that require millions of dollars in repair. Should the county raise more money to expedite those repairs – and how?: The matter of funding for road maintenance and improvements is complex and requires collaboration among the county, state and federal levels of government. In November 2018, voters in La Crosse County sent a loud and clear message that we need to address the roads, with 78% indicating that the county should spend $5 million annually to repair roads and bridges. I look forward to learning more about the highway commissioner's plan and considering creative solutions to raise the funding needed without increasing the tax burden on hard-working families in La Crosse County. Additionally, I'm interested in exploring possibilities for an improved countywide public transit system, which could not only reduce wear and tear on our roads, but reduce the impact of local transportation on our environment.
Should La Crosse County help fund collaborative efforts with other municipalities in the county?: I believe that we are all better off when we work together and support one another, and that of course includes collaborative efforts with municipalities across the county. It is imperative that our cities, towns and villages engage in cooperative efforts with school districts, health-care systems, the criminal justice system and other key stakeholders to ensure we can maintain and improve the breadth of services that La Crosse County residents depend on and deserve. The current challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic are an example of just how much we all depend on one another for our well-being, and how vital cooperation and collaboration across municipalities will be in healing our community in terms of both health and economics.
Is the county doing enough to provide assistance to those struggling with drug abuse?: The county has made impressive efforts to grow in its response to the public health concerns associated with people who use drugs. I recently joined the Alliance to HEAL, and as a licensed substance-abuse counselor for more than 10 years, I'm grateful to be part of a growing coalition of many disciplines working together to identify and solve these problems in our communities. There remains much work to be done, and I believe I am uniquely positioned to help guide the efforts to ensure the safety and health of our individuals, families, and neighborhoods as we continue to improve access to resources and support for prevention, treatment, aftercare, and family and community education. It is imperative that the county continue to work with the state to ensure Medicaid coverage of residential treatment, and work with the health systems to ensure that this level of care is available in our area.
What success and challenges do you see in the county’s jail and court system?: My citizen membership on the Criminal Justice Management Council has given me a front-row seat to the inner workings of our justice system. I have heard the concerns of the community about our safety and well-being. I have witnessed a justice system seeking to be transparent in identifying problems and approaching solutions with intentionality and evidence-based practices. One of the challenges that seems less well known by residents is the backlog of public defender cases awaiting private representation due to conflicts of interest. Recent legislation to raise the private bar rate in Wisconsin is expected to provide some relief, though it will take time to work through the pending cases. A recent success is the county's System of Care program, which provides interventions, resources and supports for families and youth at risk of involvement with our juvenile justice system.
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