Pam Porter
Dane County Board of Supervisors district 6 candidate

Website: Pam Porter
Facebook: Pam Porter

 

1. Act 10

I am a strong supporter of union rights. I have worked for and with unions, including Unite HERE, the hotel and food workers union, organizing primarily with latina workers in laundries across the Midwest.

I strongly oppose Act 10 which was an assault on collective bargaining for public sector workers. It has dealt a particularly devastating blow to education. Research has shown that post Act 10, salaries and benefits paid to Wisconsin teachers have been significantly cut and exit rates are on the rise. State and municipal employees provide critical services to our community, and I strongly support the County’s position of negotiating employee handbooks that include negotiated positions on salary, benefits and working conditions.

 

2. Funding for the Dane County Jail

Although expanded diversion and alternative sentencing efforts and a declining crime rate have reduced our jail population significantly, Dane County’s racial disparities in incarceration are among the worst in the country.

The progressives on the county board recently approved $76 million for a jail consolidation that will reduce the number of jail beds by 91 (aprox a 9% decrease) and supposedly make the facility safer for those with mental illness. I was not on the board, but had I been, I would likely have voted no. Before spending $76 million for a jail (the most in county history) I would have worked hard to scale back the jail to redirect funding diversion efforts that keep people out of jail who don’t need to be there, maximize treatment for AODA and mental illness outside of a jail setting and prioritize efforts addressing affordable housing and homelessness.

The county also spends $60 million each year running the jail, and I support bolder reforms of our criminal justice system to address the racial disparity, focus on non-criminal causes of incarceration including providing effective services for those 20-38% of our jail population who have mental health issues and work to people out of jail in the first place. I support collecting, analyzing and making publically available demographic data of our jail population in real time, decreasing the arrest rate for African American adults and working to ensure the hiring of criminal justice personnel, therapists and social workers reflect the demographics of the community and are culturally relevant. We need to review local ordinances and lower penalties where we can for non-violent crimes, expand treatment for people with mental illness and radically reducing the number of people in jail through deferred prosecution and diversion efforts. I will also support efforts that focus our investment early – in kids, including early childhood education. Across the country we have a crisis where kids are suspended, expelled and even arrested for relatively minor behaviors. Students of color and LGBT kids are disproportionately punished for these behaviors and we need to support teachers and schools in reforms and pilot programs to prevent this.

 

3. Other important issues you plan to address as Supervisor.

In addition to criminal justice reform, I will prioritize: clean lakes and sustainable agriculture, providing quality human services for those who are vulnerable, focusing on climate change and clean energy, addressing race equity and social justice (including for women and LGBTQ people who suffer from abuse, violence, discrimination and exclusion) and making housing more affordable.

I strongly oppose the state’s photo ID bill law and would work hard with Dane County, TAA and others to encourage the state legislature to overturn it. It is a cruel and unnecessary tactic that has harmed the integrity of our voting by purposefully confusing, discouraging and deterring certain voters, more frequently those who are young, poor and people of color, to vote. According to the Dane County Clerk, there are 14,000 students at UW Madison who don’t have the ID they need to vote. I would work through the County Board and County Clerk that the UW-Madison Chancellor take steps to make student ID’s compliant with the photo ID law as UW Green Bay, UW-Stout and UW-Superior have done, so all students have access to the ballot and can easily vote.

Please check out my webpage that provides more information on my issue priorities. https://www.friendsofpamporter.com/issues/