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  • Writer's pictureChristine Pribbenow

Candidates for Dane County Board of Supervisors Respond to MEP Questions for 2024 Election




On April 2nd, the Spring Election will decide who becomes the Dane County Board of Supervisor for District 34, which includes McFarland and its surrounding areas. The McFarland Equity Project invited both candidates to answer a question. Their responses are below.


Patrick Miles

The Race to Equity Report, originally written in 2012 and revised and updated in 2022 by Kids Forward, identified a number of disparities for racial/ethnic minorities in Dane County. Please identify 2-3 issues in these reports that you have specifically addressed and how you have addressed them in your role as a Dane County Supervisor.


The 2012 Race to Equity Report (R2E) used data to highlight vast racial/ethnic disparities in Dane County’s justice and child welfare systems. Dane County’s commitment to justice reform and increased family-based prevention programs have decreased the number of Black and White persons involved in these systems, but racial disparities remain. The updated 2022 R2E highlights the root causes of inequity: Economic Well-being, Health, and Education, with recommended actions for change. In my work as County Board Supervisor for District 34, I have worked to impact the root causes of Economic Well-being and Health as follows:


Economic Well-being: The updated R2E recommendations for economic well-being include raising wages and ensuring a living wage, and increasing affordable housing and housing assistance. As a County Board Supervisor, I have:

·        Supported funding and living wage contract requirements for purchase of service contractors.

·        Supported the investment of $41.7M in the Affordable Housing Development Fund, creating 2500 units countywide to date, including 98 in McFarland.

·        Supported the addition of 2 staff positions in the 2024 budget to ensure the Regional Housing Strategy recommendations move forward - focused on housing for working families. 

·        Supported the addition of $217,500 in 2024 for supportive services for Fair Chance Housing projects.

·        Supported $2,300,000 for Restoring Roots supportive housing project in 2023.

·        Supported the 2024 contract and lease for Urban Triage, Inc. for a young adult transitional living program.


Health: The updated R2E recommendations for health include providing at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for public and private employees, funding Black-led wellness initiatives, and increasing funding and support for community health workers. As a County Board Supervisor, I have:

·        Supported 12-week paid family leave for county employees. 

·        I supported a $50,000 increase for Public Health Madison Dane County to increase funding for the Saving Our Babies initiative, with funding provided to the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness. 

·        Supported increasing CARES teams to assist persons experiencing a mental health crisis.

The 2022 R2E also calls upon Dane County leaders to stand against racism and anti-blackness. As the first person of color to chair the County Board, I have:

·        Helped recruit and support the most diverse board in our history. 

·        Commissioned foundational Black History training for all county board members.

·        Sponsored prioritization of historical markers recognizing Dane County’s culturally diverse history.

·        Spoke out against hate speech directed at my Black county board colleagues.

·        Stood with the Black Caucus in decreasing the size of the new county jail.


Ed Wreh

The Race to Equity Report, originally written in 2012 and revised and updated in 2022 by Kids Forward, identified a number of disparities for racial/ethnic minorities in Dane County. Please identify 2-3 issues in these reports that you would address and how you would address them in your role as a Dane County Supervisor. 


“The Race to Equity Initiative stood on the shoulders of Black residents, community activists, and leaders who used their lived experience and positional power to call attention to some of the country’s most extreme racial inequities.”

From the Executive Summary of the Race to Equity 10 Year Report

 

It is important to recognize and appreciate the work that has been, and is being, done in our community to bring new, inclusive, and diverse voices into the public conversation about McFarland’s future. We are stronger as a community when we consider the full spectrum of experience and perspectives that create the tapestry of the wonderful Village and surrounding area. We stand on the shoulders of many who have gone before. Together, we can keep moving toward a fairer and more just society.

 

The importance of raising issues and broadening the discussion about issues in our community led me to service on the McFarland Village Board and inspired me to run for Dane County Board. Thank you to the McFarland Equity Project (MEP) for the work you are doing and for the opportunity to answer the question you have posed. 

 

Child Poverty

Tackling the deep-rooted issue of child poverty in Dane County, particularly its disproportionate impact on Black children, calls for a well-rounded strategy. There needs to be greater emphasis on enhancing educational and early childhood programs that build on the inherent strengths in social interaction and storytelling of Black children, key factors for academic achievement. To support families struggling with poverty, the county must do it part to introduce economic empowerment measures, including job training for parents and financial assistance initiatives such as those mentioned in the Report including expanding the Madison Guaranteed Basic Income program county-wide and increasing access to housing assistance and eviction protection funds. We must work to improve access to healthcare and community services. As County Board Supervisor, I will work alongside community groups and use data to gauge the success of initiatives to ensure our efforts are targeted and effective.

 

Housing

I appreciate the county’s increased investment in the affordable housing fund. We can do more. We must look at new strategies for increasing the availability of affordable housing by collaborating with local developers, financial institutions, non-profits, federal, and state agencies. I am committed to ensuring that housing strategies encompass not only the construction of homes but also the creation of supportive communities. We must take approaches such as integrating essential services such as childcare, transportation, and access to healthy food to lift families out of poverty and prevent homelessness.

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