Monday, April 6, 2009

Yes we can vote in local elections

Tomorrow is election day - there are no historic candidates for national office to cast your ballot for, but the issues and people you will be choosing are just as important, if not more so, because they more directly represent you and your hometown.

So get out to your polling place and score one for democracy and all that. And be sure to first, y'know, look into the items that will be on your ballots.

I'm happy to make a few recommendations, of course, for what it's worth:

Dane County Supervisor
I can't honestly say I'm at all excited about this particular choice. Neither candidate exactly thrills me. Incumbent Kathleen Falk has a lot to answer for in her handling of the 911 center and its various failings over the past year. But challenger Nancy Mistele has done a marvelous job of painting herself as an exploitative, opportunistic, one-hit wonder, and a decidedly less appealing candidate than Falk. Which is saying something. I'm optimistic that Dane County voters will see what I see and keep Falk around for a bit longer - but that they'll hold her accountable for the terrible mistakes that have been made, and if she doesn't shape up, maybe find an at least half-decent candidate to face her next time.
  • Kathleen Falk (I) ☑
  • Nancy Mistele ☐
State Supreme Court Justice
I see this one as a no-brainer, and I'm hoping that the majority of my constituents are on the same page, and just as frustrated as I am that the last two supreme court elections were absolute travesties. Current Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson has been a diligent, thoughtful, and lawful member of the bench since 1976. Challenger Randy Koschnick has proven himself to be someone willing to distort the record of his opponent for his own political gain, and whose judicial record is filled with strange contradictions and decisions. I highly recommend an even brief perusal of Illusory Tenant's excellent posts on the subject for more in-depth analysis. Seriously people, we've already put two chuckleheads onto the bench of the highest court in the state. Let's not swing for the strike out.
  • Shirley Abrahamson (I) ☑
  • Randy Koschnick ☐
Garver Arts Incubator Referendum
I wrote about this fairly recently, and I haven't changed my mind. I think voting yes and allowing the Common Wealth Development folks buy the property and fix it up so that it can be a place for artist studios, performance space, etc., would be a great opportunity for Madison. It's like getting a second chance at creating an Overture Center that the community would actually use and benefit from--without the shady investment plan.
  • Garver Arts Incubator - Yes ☑
  • Garver Arts Incubator - No ☐
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
On the one hand, you have a candidate (Tony Evers) committed to bettering our public schools, holding them to higher standards and making sure that our children are well-served by the system. On the other hand, you have a candidate (Rose Fernandez) that seems committed to channeling money away from the public schools and into the voucher/charter program. While Evers boasts several decades of service to our public schools, including his current title as Deputy State Superintendent of Public Schools, Fernandez can only seem to boast of her efforts to thwart public education. Hooray. For more on the saga, check out Folkbum's excellent coverage of the race here and here.
  • Rose Fernandez ☐
  • Tony Evers ☑
I'm not going to make any endorsements for local Common Council races, but if you live in District 2, I will point you toward a recent interview I conducted with both of the candidates in that race. Also, as always, the League of Women Voters has put out their question and answer sessions with candidates for statewide races, and it's well worth checking out.

More important than taking my word for any of this, of course, is going out and looking into the issues and candidates for yourself--and, of course, voting.

P.S. On a somewhat related note, I will be getting interviewed about local elections, my lack of sleep, and other thrilling topics by the intrepid Dan Potacke (aka comedian Alan Talaga) tonight at the Frequency as part of his "Halloween in April: Its Like Christmas In July Except Not" themed talk show. More about the event here. If you're in the neighborhood and in the mood for happy hour drinks, a free show, and me likely making an ass of myself on stage, then please do stop on by!

(photo by Theresa Thompson on Flickr)


MaryRW said...

I agree with all your picks, but I remain unconvinced on the art center. Alas, I'm afraid that, given the language of Madison not being responsible initially will ultimately land the city in having to foot the bill without reaping substantial enough benefit. I'd rather see the city hang on to the property.

Emily said...

I hear you, Mary. The thing is, the city isn't doing anything with the property as it is, and probably doesn't have the money to invest in a revitalization project of their own.

CWD, on the other hand, has several successful community-oriented business ventures under their belt, and seems to have a pretty solid plan for the place. I'm willing to give them a shot at making it into something productive and positive.

Leftilicious said...

Emily – Rob Chappell, Overture Center publicist here.

First of all, we agree with you on the Garver Feed Mill. We think an arts incubator would make a great addition to the ever-vibrant arts scene in Madison and we urge a yes vote.

However, I have to take issue with your swipe at Overture.

You imply that the community doesn’t use or benefit from what happens here. You might tell that to the 150,000 or so people who benefit from our free and low-cost programs like International Festival (more than 8,000 performance experiences in one day, all for free), Kids in the Rotunda, OnStage subsidized school programs, etc, etc. Did you know more people attend those programs than buy tickets to ticketed shows? Also you might want to tell the 1,000 or so local artists (yes, LOCAL artists) who ply their trade here as members of our 11 resident organizations, or the several hundred stagehands and technicians – the best in the business – who make a living here, that Overture doesn’t benefit them or their community. Plus, what about the Community Arts Access program that allows community groups to use our spaces at reduced cost (or for free in some cases), the Musical Memories program for seniors, or ticket vouchers for low-income residents?

Overture is easy to pick on, especially in offhand remarks such as yours. However, you can prop up local arts without tearing Overture down. We’re all part of the same city, the same community. The Garver arts incubator will, if the vote goes well tomorrow, join the Bartell, the Majestic, the Barrymore, Broom Street Theater, Overture Center and all the other great venues in town where art happens.

We’d love to talk sometime. Drop me an email, if you like.

George H. said...

Good recommendations all. I admit to being an Overture fan, and especially a Capitol Theater fan, so ...
On another note, if you could reconsider the type size on your spiffy new page, perhaps...
And, you might consider making it more obvious that replies are welcome. At first I thought you had done away with comments altogether, and now that I am trained, that would have been disappointing...

IsmaelTapiaII said...

Good picks, I think I agree with all of them, except possibly the arts incubator, but that's because I don't know anything about it. Although I will admit that I love the Overture Center.

I was wondering, though, why you didn't weigh in on the circuit-court race.

Emily said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emily said...

Rob - Your point is well taken. I didn't mean to imply that I thought there wasn't any benefit to the community in the OC - I was trying to lead up to the part about poor investment practices as my main point. Clearly, I didn't do so well.

Clearly, there are also some serious public perception issues here, though. I can't tell you how many times I've heard the center come up as the butt of a joke.

But I do believe that many of the people involved in the operation of the OC are very well-meaning and community oriented, and certainly there are quite a few programs that are locally focused. I guess I've just run into conflicts over the years with how and who the center books, use of their facilities, and general community outreach. It's not an overall thing, it's just individual cases. For instance, I was with two separate theatre groups that performed for the opening week of the space, and both were treated rather poorly. That could well be chalked simply up to initial kinks being worked out.

Since then, though, I've heard told of artists being charged to have tables out in the lobby, and a few other things that made me do a double take and wonder.

I don't wish the OC any ill-will, and I think it has/had the potential to be a great asset to the city. And like all armchair quarterbacks, I have various opinions about various aspects of how it's been run over the years.

I think the Garver Arts Incubator has the chance to become the even more grassroots level arts center, though--more focused on cultivating the very local creative scene, whereas Overture has split duties with bigger, more national events, etc. They have the potential to be complimentary--but I do hope Garver's finances are planned a little more realistically than Overture's were.

George - I'll see what I can do about type size. It's embedded in the css, so I can't just go in and flip a switch, unfortunately. And as for replies, I'm hoping people see that there is still a "reply" link at the bottom of each post. But I'll be working out some kinks in the design for a little while yet, and will certainly do what I can to make it more obvious.

Ismael - Honestly? It's because I don't know much about the race for the circuit court. I try to keep up with everything, but this one fell through the cracks for me. I'll do my own homework before I vote tomorrow, though, I promise. :)

Anonymous said...

well, looks like it was a good election night. i'm glad to see Kathleen Falk gets another go 'round, and maybe she can show that being executive means more than just fixing the 911 call center. once i heard about WMC backing out of open campaigning for Randy Koshnik(sp), i wasn't at all worried for Shirly Abrahamson. the only disappointments were the Middleton/Cross Plains school district referendum (not my district), and Brenda Konkel losing out to her challenger on the near east side.i used to live on the near east side, and Brenda is going to be sorely missed in her alder person spot. Yay for the Arts Incubator!

The Lost Albatross