Updated February 5, 2020
From the desk of Mary Ann:
1. Our schools in Dane County need to re-open immediately. Dane County has seen fit to take control of our schools when in fact the parents/guardians of students and local school boards should be making the decisions. I feel it is up to the parents and the school boards to come up with ways to get our kids back in school. Dane County leadership can and should provide non-partisan and objective educational support and feedback based on what is working in other counties, states, and the world. If parents prefer not to send their child(ren) in person (yet) then they should be able to choose virtual learning with those who are in the classroom. It is a valid concern that many Dane County children may be left behind academically, in the development of social skills, and in the benefits of participation in extra-curriculars like sports and other opportunities that support academic success. I am in favor of School Choice. Parents/guardians should be in control and the primary drivers of their children’s education.
Youth Sports are being unfairly targeted by Dane County. Research supports organized physical activity as an important part of building self-efficacy and social-emotional health in students. Why not review and approve individual health & safety plans during the pandemic instead of shutting down dance studios and youth groups in large square footage facilities with cohorts/low numbers and robust infection control measures? Year-round outdoor activities bolster immune function through vitamin D and combat childhood obesity. Dane county is home to many organizations and small business - as well as entire school districts - that sponsor and promote youth sports. Small businesses sponsor leagues, camps, clinics, all to help children achieve their goals. Camps and sports teams also help the local economy of the communities they are in. Currently some teams/families are choosing for the first time to travel outside of the county to participate thereby increasing risk of travel and moving revenue away from local restaurant take out/carry out services. Dane County shut these youth focused organizations down while other counties continue these activities. I will partner with leaders to level the playing field for rural, suburban and urban youth.
2. Small businesses in our communities are being unfairly targeted by Dane County and the State of Wisconsin. I have watched small business owners come up with ideas to weather the storm only to have the government shut them down time and time again. Entrepreneurs put all they have into their businesses. Small businesses hire our kids, donate to our youth sports groups, and they are always there to help those in greatest need. They are the life blood of our communities. Unfortunately, our State and County government have seen fit to play favorites to the "big box" stores (such as Menards and Wal-Mart) of the world who in my opinion have deep pockets and will likely weather this storm. The shutdown of Dane County business has adversely affected our economy. We also need to look at helping our farmers in Dane County. We are losing family farms at an alarming rate. We must figure out ways to support our agricultural community. I will advocate for each facet of small business in Dane County: rural, suburban, and urban.
3. Dane County Government – Inclusiveness, Infrastructure and Budget.
4. Social & Economic Programs. We need to address the issue of poverty in our communities. We need to attract diverse businesses to Dane County, which will provide good competitive wages. We need to get input from our business community as to what needs are for a workforce. Creating job programs will get people back in the workforce. I know for a fact that skilled trades are in high demand and these are good paying jobs. Giving businesses the incentive to provide apprenticeship programs will aid in upward mobility. We must work with school districts to bring back skilled trade classes as well as production Agriculture and Agribusiness. We must continue the work to provide all citizens with clean & safe access to trails, neighborhood parks & our beautiful lakes for health and recreation. We must bring together leaders from minority communities, non-profits, law enforcement, and the City of Madison to bridge poverty and racial divides. This dialogue will not be easy, but we must find common ground and build from there. This will not be something accomplished overnight, but in the end creating dialogue will produce a lasting change in our community. I do not favor a defund of law enforcement. Law enforcement needs to provide officers with sensitivity training as well as looking at different ways of policing such as neighborhood police force.