I’m proud to represent a beautiful slice of Madison’s East Side: Eastmorland, Hiestand Park, Rolling Meadows, Elvehjem, and East Buckeye neighborhoods.
I’m here to give back to my community—and to work for a Dane County in which everyone can thrive. To make that a reality, we need to address deep, long-standing disparities and establish true racial and economic justice. We also need to take action locally on climate change so we can deliver a safe environment and clean water, soil, and air to our children and our children’s children.
These are big challenges, but I believe we can meet them through bold, inclusive, and collaborative action. I promise to do my part, and I look forward to hearing from you.
I’ve lived on Madison’s East Side since 2005. Currently, I live in Elvehjem with my wife (an MMSD elementary school teacher), two children, and an old adopted dog. I work in healthcare technology and I serve on the Elvehjem Neighborhood Association Board of Directors. My past community service includes a term as Chair of the East Side Progressives action team and several years on the Steering Committee for the Wisconsin AIDS Ride. Past professional experience includes a few years as a barista, a stint as a freeform alternative DJ, and research on endangered plant species.
As for hobbies, I lift weights, read, ride my bicycle (for three of our four Wisconsin seasons), cook excellent meals on occasion, and enjoy lots of time (and a little bit of success) in my garden.
I blog regularly at wrightfordanecounty.com.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This Digest is mainly dedicated to the 2023 Dane County Budget, which is hot off the presses.
Here we go:
In November, we finalized the County’s 2023 budget. I'm proud of the work we did—we made critical investments in the people, services, and infrastructure that will carry our Dane County values forward into 2023 and beyond.
A budget is a statement of values. As such, I'm highlighting below just some of the items I worked for and supported, and how they match the values I promised to carry into office.
As a core part of our affordable housing initiatives, we funded specific affordable housing supports for individuals and families who have experienced incarceration—making a transition out of jail easier and fostering sustained reductions in recidivism.
County Executive Joe Parisi’s initial budget called for (and I strongly supported!) creation of the Dane County Department of Justice Reform and Equity. This is a dedicated, independent resource to bridge agencies within the criminal justice system and lead Dane County’s next steps on data-driven reforms. This work is very much needed. The parties cooperating on this effort are widely dispersed across many levels of government—judges, court commissioners, the DA, public defenders, state legislators, City of Madison police, other municipal PDs, the Dane County Sheriff, local subject matter experts, and more. This office will allow us to coordinate and drive change.
The budget has $4.5 million for the development and installation of carbon capture technologies. We also created a new position in the Department of Waste & Renewables to work on accelerating Dane County to carbon neutrality.
The budget sets aside funds for the “Suck the Muck” initiative at Door Creek and its surrounding wetlands. There's also $3 million for the Yahara Chain of Lakes Sediment Removal Project and two more full time dredging positions.
The budget adds $10 million to the Dane County Conservation Fund, through which we purchase strategic pieces of land that allow us to help improve water quality, reduce flooding risk, and restore prairies and wildlife.
The final budget brings a significant addition to the Dane County Affordable Housing Development Fund. Executive Parisi wisely added money to this critical fund, and the Board was able to add yet more as we finalized the budget. For everyone to thrive here, we have to focus on housing affordability for all. All told, the 2023 budget adds $10 million to this fund.
Dane County and Second Harvest’s “Farm to Foodbank” program, created during the pandemic, will continue. This is an essential resource for reducing food insecurity in our community. In addition, the River Food Pantry will receive $1.5 million to support their growth as needs for their services have increased. Many of you contacted me about the River’s great work and their needs moving forward, and I was particularly happy to support this.
The budget invests $6 million for a new permanent shelter for men experiencing homelessness.
For recreation and good health, the budget funds phase two of the Lower Yahara River Trail. This section will run from Fish Camp County Park through Lake Kegonsa State Park.
The Alliant Energy Center is a critical resource for our community, and we have to focus on sustaining it in a post-COVID landscape for conventions and events. To help our County navigate this, we budgeted to hire a consultant for an Alliant Energy Center redevelopment project and a market analysis. This will join the work our new Alliant Energy Center Director, Adam Heffron, is doing to carry our investment in a world-class convention center forward.
For everyone to thrive here, everyone's voice must be heard—which means our elections must be secure. To safeguard this in the future, we are investing $16 million in a new elections center. Once constructed, the new center will house the Dane County Clerk’s Office, and it will allow us to store elections equipment and records in a safer and more secure manner.
There are two key “loose ends” from this budget—areas where I was hoping to drive more concrete resolution. The work continues. I'll blog about each of these in more detail in the future, but in brief:
Jail Consolidation Project: During the budget process, I worked with many of my colleagues to drive a compromise plan to bring this project back to budget and get it going. It called for a smaller facility—not as stringently as the plan I supported in the summer, but a compromise that I felt good about. It reflected the concerns I've heard from many of you on this project. County Executive Parisi vetoed this compromise plan, so we’re back to where we started. Make no mistake—we have to act. Our present facility is dangerous and inhumane, and I am no less committed to working with my colleagues on a way forward to a better facility that reflects our values and our parallel investments in criminal justice. More to come.
Transparency on PFAS and airport noise: There's a lot of hard work happening in both of these areas, and I'm probably going to deep-dive them in my next post. These topics deserve that treatment.