Heather Driscoll

1. What top three priorities will you work on if elected?
I’m running because I want to help transform Dane County into an environmentally sustainable and socially just model. 
I envision a time when we can all swim in and enjoy our lakes without having to worry whether the water is safe. A Dane County that is known as a wonderful place to live for people of color. A community where women are treated respectfully, paid equally for equal work, and diverse women make up half of the elected leaders in our government. A future where we’ve cut our jail population by more than 50% because we’ve aggressively invested in our citizens and the services we need.
Now more than ever, we need to amplify the voices of women and people of color and bring fresh ideas and new people to politics. We need better listening and more collaboration and I plan to bring that as a County Supervisor.
2. The county recently adopted a vehicle registration fee, which will generate $12M in annual county revenue for transportation related purposes. Does this present an opportunity to evaluate our transportation funding and programs with an equity analysis? What strategies would you support to advance transportation equity and eliminate transportation barriers?
I support the move to ensure the County citizens who are driving cars are paying for the expansion of roads and the necessary services like snow removal and upkeep that roads require.  I support how this budget change ensures drivers are paying for those costs, and reducing the stress on the rest of our County budget which provides so many critical services to our community.
This county budget change presents a great opportunity to envision and plan for a more equitable transportation system for our citizens. The County should use a racial equity tool to make conscious efforts towards equity and examine how communities of color will be affected by policy. In addition, there are many exciting and fast-evolving technologies becoming available in transportation, such as electric cars, electric buses, and autonomous vehicles, that also have the potential to give us a much cleaner and more environmentally-friendly transportation system. 
3. Did you or would you vote for the jail and why? What are the next steps moving forward?
No I would not have voted for the jail. I supported Supervisor Wegleitner's amendment that would have removed the $76 million jail plan from the budget. I attended the Public Protection and Judiciary committee meeting on October 24th and registered my position on this issue.  (You can see my name included in the list on page 3, "Public Members who registered in support of PP&J-C-03" at https://dane.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=M&ID=571089&GUID=487A1BB3-7AF0-41DC-85B8-4C76ADA0BE88 ). 
Investing $76 million into the continued system of incarceration is not a good investment. I want to see Dane County build up our people rather than build up our jail.  I would have supported a much more scaled back retrofit of the public safety building jail, a greater focus on prevention and diversion programs, affordable housing, mental health services, and more access to healthcare. I would also have looked into partnerships and options with jails in surrounding counties to enable us to meet our current needs rather than committing ourselves to this large of an investment in a jail.
4. Would you support going to referendum to raise the levy? If yes, what conditions do you have on your support, if any? What other ideas do you have for raising revenues or reducing spending?
If the circumstance is needed, I would support going to referendum to raise the levy. I look forward to diving into these critical issues and using my experiences of public service to find ways to get more needed services to our citizens while ensuring taxes remain affordable.
Throughout my experiences of public service I’ve been able to accomplish a lot with very little. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Romania, I taught environmental education, created a high school ecology club, spearheaded a girls’ leadership camp, helped organize a campaign raising awareness about domestic violence, and initiated a volunteer program in an orphanage all with very little money. With my resourcefulness, creativity, and leadership skills, I find ways to positively impact the community and will continue to do so on the County Board. My life experiences have uniquely positioned me for elected office, and I plan to bring forward-thinking, successful ideas to make real improvements to our County.
Right now in Wisconsin, state and federal funds are being slashed and the County is paying for some services that are funded by states elsewhere. At the same time neighbors are feeling the impacts of higher property taxes and are struggling to continue to afford living here. 
As I’ve been reaching out meeting neighbors, I spoke with one single mom who has been unable to pay property taxes for the past two years and as a result is selling her house and moving out of the neighborhood. I also spoke with a retired military veteran on a fixed income who inherited his house and will have to get a reverse mortgage just in order to pay for property taxes. 
On one hand, our county budget is being squeezed and we need to provide more services with less resources. Preventing homelessness, providing mental health care, meeting public health needs, and cleaning up our environment are all critical to our collective future.  
On the other hand, we have people in our community who are struggling to afford living here, and we can’t simply raise the levy without ensuring we’ve done everything we can to spend our dollars most efficiently.
5. Over the past few years there has been a lot of talk about equity, how do you evaluate the efforts that have been made and what recommendations do you have for moving forward with these efforts?
Five of my formative professional years were spent in the Oakland - San Francisco Bay Area, where I had the pleasure of learning from and meeting Van Jones.  Van is now pretty well-known from his job on CNN, but back then he was a visionary on what we needed to get done to build up people of color.  The number one thing Van always said to white people who wanted to help was simple:  “Listen.”  That’s where we need to start.  The elected leaders of Dane County and all levels of government need to stop assuming they have answers because they’ve read a report.  We need to sit down and really listen to the people of color in our communities.  The people that are most oppressed and most in need know what they want and need - but the people in power are not willing to accept the solutions they are bringing to the table.  We need to listen and to implement what is heard into policy as well as elect more people of color. 
6. Evaluate the issue of transparency with the way the County Board currently operates, what problem areas do you believe need to be addressed and how will you work to address them?
The number one problem I see is that much of the work of the County Board gets done in Committees, but there are so many Committees that it’s nearly impossible for an interested citizen to make all the meetings, and these meetings are not video-taped or otherwise accessible after the fact to help citizens and interested parties stay up to speed with the wide variety of activities moving through the committees.  In the world of tools like Facebook Live, it is now so easy to video-record every committee meeting, and ensure they are made accessible to all Dane County residents!  We have to use these tools to truly make our County Board and Committees transparent and available to the citizens to whom we are responsible.
7. Have you carefully read the Progressive Dane County Platform? Do you have any questions or concerns about the platform? Are there issues that we should add or that you particularly want to work on?
Yes I read the Progressive Dane County Platform and the platform really resonates with me. It is very comprehensive and inspiring!
One question I have is that I know people of color who have been alienated from the endorsement process and I would love to hear more about how Progressive Dane is working to make it a welcoming process for everyone.  
8. Why are you interested in the Progressive Dane endorsement?
I'm interested in Progressive Dane's endorsement because I share the values of your platform. Regardless of whether or not I receive an endorsement, I will fight for these values with everything I've got.  
FOR NEW CANDIDATES ONLY
9. What are the unique qualities and perspectives that you will bring to this office? 
I’m running because I want to help transform Dane County into an environmentally sustainable and socially just model for our nation. Now more than ever, we need to amplify the voices of women and people of color and bring fresh ideas and new people to politics. We need better listening and more collaboration and I plan to bring that as a County Supervisor.
I care deeply about issues critical to the County – cleaning up our lakes, restorative justice, affordable housing, mental health services, and public health. I’ve had difficult life experiences that have helped me see the profound value in access to health and human services. When I was 2 years old depression took my dad’s life and in my 20’s I personally experienced what it’s like to be sick while uninsured. Looking back on these experiences, they are the moments that have shaped my path and are driving me to fight for change through elected office.
 
As a mom with two young children, I have a vested interest in the decisions made today and how they will affect my children’s generation and generations to come. 
10. In what ways are you currently active in your district and the community at large?
I am on the Schenk-Atwood-Starkwood-Yahara (SASY) Neighborhood Association Board and I am the Chair of the Environmental Committee.  I have been very active in political  campaigns and nonprofit work, and when I moved to Madison six years ago I continued that work. Locally I have been advocating for “Mom’s Demand Action” regarding gun control and various environmental causes throughout my neighborhood and community.