Dane County Board of Supervisors district 6 candidate
1. Act 10
I am absolutely and unequivocally opposed to Act 10. My family and I participated in protests against Act 10 every weekend. We also vociferously protested against so-called “Right to Work” legislation. My wife Jodi Vander Molen was a proud union member for over 17 years in the National Organization of Legal Services Workers (NOLSW), UAW, Local 2320. She served frequently served as a union steward in negotiations with management at The Progressive magazine, as well as union treasurer.
We have seen the horrific effects of Act 10 in all facets of civil life, particularly in education. Since 2011, teachers are paid less, have fewer benefits and are less experienced1. This directly degrades the quality of education and does grave damage to our democracy. I will fight for public education, and have worked on multiple school referendum campaigns. I am proud to be endorsed by school board members Nicki Vander Meulen, Anna Mueller Moffit, and Dean Loumos, as well as former school board presidents Bill Keys and Arlene Silveira.
The effects of Act 10 were devastating to workers, as out-of-pocket expenses increased in regard to pension and health care contributions. It also hurt the health and safety of our workers, as bargaining was limited only to wages up to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Punitive measures against organized labor were also included, as employers could not collect union dues and unions were saddled with arduous re-certification requirements.
On the Dane County board, I will fight for public employees to have a fair salary, safe working conditions, and a strong voice in their workplace.
2. Funding for the Dane County Jail
I was opposed to the new Dane County Jail from day one. I testified against the jail and my testimony is available here ( https://goo.gl/Jo6nMa ). I participated in “Derail the Jail” rallies and meetings opposing the jail.
Dane County must collect and analyze criminal justice data to figure out how we can divert people who are struggling into mental health treatment and restorative justice programs, and away from jail cells. Let’s expand the use of the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) tool so we can remove implicit bias. And we can expand the use of bail-monitoring programs as an alternate to cash bail for non-violent offenses, so we can ensure that someone’s life is not completely up-ended by spending time in jail while waiting for a hearing.
We can also implement enhanced notifications to ensure that citizens show up at court appearances. When a court appearance is missed, a warrant can be issued, which wastes officer time, results in additional jail time, and perpetuates a destructive cycle. I support a modest transportation subsidy for those who need it, because it is much cheaper to pay a $25 cab fare than it is to incarcerate someone for one day or longer.
Going forward, we must look at resolution 556 passed in September 2015, and fully implement the recommendations on “Data Collection and Analysis” and “Length of Stay.” We must also build a Mental Health Crisis Center with staff appropriately trained on how to deal with individuals in crisis, and use this facility as an alternative to incarceration. If Dane County can borrow 76 million dollars for a jail, it can certainly include a mental health crisis center in the capital budget.
I am proud to be endorsed by Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, who led the charge against the jail. She said: “On the most pressing issues facing Dane County, Yogesh has articulated principled positions and tangible reforms. He’s been the only candidate to speak out against the huge jail construction project, showing the courage to take on critical issues and the skills and experience to offer creative alternatives.”
3. Other important issues you plan to address as Supervisor (Please see https://www.voteyogesh.com for my detailed platform):
Clean Lakes and Renewable Energy
The quality of Dane County lakes has stagnated. We are now in an emergency situation where our lakes are ravaged by phosphorous pollution and are being overtaken by invasive species like zebra mussels and spiny water fleas. The status quo is no longer good enough, and we need to take urgent action to tackle this issue.
Our lakes are a community treasure and must be protected. I will work with farmers, scientists, activists and environmental stewards to prioritize restoring our lakes so they are safe and enjoyable for people, pets, fish and wildlife.
To clean up our lakes, we must fight locally for a clean energy future. On the Dane County Board, I will advocate for more renewable energy, particularly solar, by expanding the PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program to include residential property owners in addition to commercial property owners, so they can also receive long-term, low-cost loans.
Solar energy is profitable both financially and environmentally. We can power our economy with solar, invest in energy efficiency, and serve as a model county that leads by example to fight climate change.
Housing is a human right. We must invest in affordable housing for all of our community, including our vulnerable populations. Dane County, specifically Madison, has a low vacancy rate and is subject to rental price surges. To keep up with an expanding population, we must create more housing units, but we must also ensure that the housing is affordable. Many of our neighbors are already housing-cost burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their income for their housing. We must take steps to ensure that our communities are vibrant, diverse and affordable.
We must also protect our most vulnerable populations. We must reduce chronic homelessness and provide permanent housing opportunities, while expanding comprehensive day centers like the Beacon.
Open Data and Open Government
Most county government work is done in committees, not on the county board floor. These committee meetings are not recorded and available to the general public, which reduces the ability of our residents to participate, and leaves a gap in accountability for these public bodies. Modern streaming technology allows sharing video at the click of a button. We must demand more from Dane County.
I will lead the charge to ensure committee meetings are recorded and publicly available to allow all our neighbors to fully participate in their own government.
The Dane County Board limits the frequency of how often a constituent can testify on an issue. Even as an issue evolves or as language in proposed legislation changes, these restrictions are still in place. We must allow constituents to testify at any county meeting on any issue that is on the agenda without unreasonable restrictions.
The Dane County Board must do better when it comes to posting meeting times and locations. There are myriad ways to reach people through social media and electronic and print platforms. We must make sure meeting schedules are readily available, and that meetings are held at times and locations that maximize public participation.
Dane County spends a large portion of its budget on Health and Human Services. The Request for Proposal (RFP) must be clean and open, where citizens can easily access RFP responses while inspecting and providing input on the evaluation process.
The Capital Times recently wrote2: “Chawla has distinguished himself by outlining an agenda for making the board’s deliberations more accessible. … Chawla’s agenda is a smart one. He’s talking about using new technology, and his own experience, to make it easier for citizens to engage with county government. We hope that other contenders for the board will embrace his proposals and come up with more of their own.”
1 “Attacks on Public-Sector Unions Harm States: How Act 10 Has Affected Education
2 Editorial: Big ideas can make county government more accessible https://goo.gl/bMcsDM