Archive for the ‘County Politics’ Category

Want to know why Progressive Dane is struggling?

January 7, 2012

Take a look at Progressive Dane’s Twitter account. The average high school cheerleader has more followers than the political party that once held a plurality of seats on the Madison Common Council. It is currently following three accounts and has 90 followers.

In PD’s defense, its Facebook page has attracted much more attention, with over 500 “likes.”  PD co-Chair Mike Johnson says overhauling social media is a priority for the coming year.

That priority should have been set much earlier. As a result of PD’s neglect of social media, it missed an epic opportunity to gain party members during the winter protests, when seemingly every state progressive who wasn’t out in the streets was glued to the #wiunion updates on Twitter. Putting that hashtag at the end of all of my tweets gained me many times more followers and readers than PD’s entire current following. Especially the younger crowd on campus.

The irony is that the leaders of PD are Johnson, a young guy who knows about this stuff, and Brenda Konkel, a prolific blogger.

The Dane Dems Twitter account is equally wretched. They have the exact same number of followers as PD! However, their laziness is more excusable, since the Dems have a statewide organization that keeps fans in the loop.

Throughout the battle for labor rights, many criticized the Democrats for running lackluster campaigns devoid of the progressive passion that defined the winter protests. If Progressive Dane had been front-and-center of that effort on social media, it would probably have a larger crop of young, energetic members.

Dane County coming back?

March 8, 2010

The State Journal ran an article suggesting that Dane County’s economy is rebounding. They list a bunch of facts, the following of which was the most impressive:

• Unemployment hit a peak of 6.3 percent in June; by December it was down to 5.4 percent.

But 2009 as a whole was particularly tough.

Social service programs, including local food pantries, say there’s been a big jump in the number of people who need help.

“Every day that we’re open, we have new people that are just laid off,” said Jenny Czerkas, director of The River Food Pantry, 2201 Darwin Road.

The pantry had 21,680 household visits in 2009, up from 13,380 the year before. Each family can get food once a week. “A two-hour wait (to get inside) is not uncommon,” Czerkas said.

I certainly don’t think cutting unemployment benefits is the answer to drive these people away from food pantries, as some suggest. When unemployment spikes, it’s not a spike in laziness, it’s a spike in desperation.
Brenda Konkel weighs in, optimistic but skeptical.

Political Science does serve a purpose

March 2, 2010

The State Journal recently did brief profiles of both candidates in the race for the 4th district seat on the Dane County Board. Greg Hull, a 22-year-old realtor and political science student, lost the same race two years ago to the same opponent, Sup. Bret Hulsey, a 12 year incumbent on the board.

Low and behold, Hull is in my political science discussion. I’m not a poli sci major but it’s a course on game theory and whatnot that I’m using to fulfill my quantitative reasoning prerequisite. I always thought it was odd that he wore a suit every class, although not as weird as him admitting that he was a Michigan fan on the first day.

Big 10 allegiances aside, I decided that I ought to meet the man, so I got him to squeeze 2-4 minutes out of his busy day to talk about the campaign.

The State Journal profile of the race was news to him, and he told me that they’d asked him to score his political views, from 1 to 10, 1 being very liberal and 10 being very conservative. He said both he and Hulsey answered “2”. Interestingly, none of this showed up in the article.

How will you convince people you’re not just a rep for the realtors association: Why do people have this idea that the realtors are some kind of Republican group…

Me (interrupting): Well the new supreme court rules were largely written by the ––

Hull: By the state realtors association. They’re more conservative. We’re not. There’s this idea that all realtors want is urban sprawl. That’s ridiculous. I have one guy who only sells ag land. He doesn’t want sprawl! Can I sell property that overlooks a polluted lake? What realtors want is property they can sell, which means we need a clean environment, good schools, and efficient transportation.


Paul Axel interviews Analiese Eicher

February 12, 2010

First off, Paul Axel has not become a contributing member to The Sconz, although it certainly wouldn’t hurt having him on board.

A few weeks ago he interviewed Analiese Eicher, the Democratic candidate (in a non-partisan race) for the District 5 seat on the Dane County Board. Disclosure: Axel is active in the College Democrats and very likely knows Eicher personally. Here’s the interview:

Why did you initially decide to run for county board, or who convinced you?

Well, I guess I really hadn’t been considering because there was an open seat, and it never really crossed my mind that it was something I wanted to do right away. I was definitely on the track for law school, taking the LSAT. Someone brought it more to my attention and asked me to consider it, and I began to consider it…just to think about it. And I was, like, “Well, OK.” So I started talking to a lot of students that I work with on campus, asking their opinion about it. I started to think about what the position means to the students on campus. So after many conversations with many students, it was clear a lot of people thought it was a good idea. I convinced myself that there were a lot of things that I wanted to work on that could be accomplished on the county board. I felt students needed strong represented to represent their voice on the board. I felt that students needed to know what was going on. They don’t realize just how relevant the board is to their everyday lives. So it was a lot of students that convinced me to run.


Manning endorses Johnson’s candidacy in 5th district

February 9, 2010

I recently sent an email to Michael Johnson, a candidate for the 5th district seat on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. I asked for an update on his campaign, and I told him I was specifically interested in how he would evaluate the incumbent, Wyndham Manning, a member of Progressive Dane who has been relentlessly criticized by the Badger Herald editorial board for his absence from meetings and policy (I am currently awaiting a response from Manning on what he has done during his two year term of office). I also asked Johnson if he would seek Manning’s endorsement.

Regarding Wyndham; I believe has done a respectable job as our County Supervisor here in the 5th district, maintaining a strong presence on the issues of his predecessor, Ashok Kumar, such as fair housing and equal rights. I think the problem that he ran into is the amount of time and energy needed to be a strong advocate on the board, and even the more mundane things like securing rides to his meetings further out in the county, which I believe contributed to his high number of absences. Overall, I think history will respect his contribution to Dane County as an elected official. Things I would do differently are really just connecting the popular social and political movements that I have worked with on campus and in the community to the halls of power so that they District 5 representative can have the power and unity of these movements to support their legislative efforts. Wyndham’s background is more connected to Madison’s cultural and musical circles, not so much the activist ones, so lacking that formal connection I think made him different from Ashok, so he came at the job differently, but to each his own. I did seek his endorsement, and he is enthusiastically supporting my efforts, including going door to door with me; I also received the support of his predecessors, Ashok Kumar(06-08) and Ech Vedder (98-06), as well as their city counterparts in District 8, Austin King(03-07) and Todd Jarrell (01-03).

But he also said the following:


Dane County Democrats to endorse board candidates

January 13, 2010

Tonight the Dane County Democratic Party is meeting to endorse candidates for the Dane County Board. If everything goes to plan, Analiese Eicher will be endorsed in district 5. She’s been active in Democratic politics for years. If she was not a member of the College Democrats’ board in the past, she has certainly been very active in the organization and knows all the people at the top. She has worked for Rep. Tammy Baldwin as well as for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2008. For the County Dems to endorse Michael Johnson over her would be party heresy.

Granted, these meetings tend to attract pseudo-Democrats as well. Anybody who spots people who are active in other parties pretending to be Democrats please email me! I am not a partisan of the Democratic Party, but I think it would be fun to know.

Analiese Eicher’s press conference

December 8, 2009

Head count: 15 non-media members, a photographer and writer from each campus paper and Michael Johnson’s campaign manager. Compared to the 3-4 supporters at Johnson’s earlier event, if it wasn’t already clear – Eicher begins as the favorite.

After a few minutes of personal background, including a reference to a Tammy Baldwin rally that she credits for interest in politics, Eicher specifies the maintenance of the Health and Human Services Department, the improvement of air and water quality and the protection of the local economy as her policy priorities. She finishes to a rousing applause from her partisans.

Both she and Johnson gave relatively predictable talking points, although Johnson’s included more lefty code words and referenced the issue of inequality. In her anecdote about seeing Tammy Baldwin, Eicher emphasized her inspiration by strong female leaders like Baldwin and Hillary Clinton, suggesting that feminism will be a central component of her campaign’s identity.

Johnson emphasizes progressive action for candidacy

December 8, 2009

In a brief announcement of his candidacy for the 5th district seat on the Dane County Board, Michael Johnson emphasized his commitment to bold progressive action and his experience in the community.

The issues he cited as priorities included the racial disparities within the Dane County justice system, the preservation of social services during tight fiscal times, keeping economic development in Madison and Dane County, affordable housing and the development of a transportation system that exists “not only for the lucky few and works.”

When I asked him what he thought about his opponent, Analiese Eicher, Johnson said that while she had done commendable work in the community, he believed he had the experience to work on important issues better.

When I asked him what he’d learned about Katrina Flores’ unsuccessful campaign for alder, for which he served as campaign manager, he attributed the loss mainly to different circumstances, saying that “nine times out of ten, Katrina would have won that race.”

Michael Johnson declares for Dane County Board

December 8, 2009

Michael Johnson, an MATC student and Progressive Dane activist, will announce his candidacy for the 5th district of the Dane County Board of Supervisors. Johnson was briefly a candidate for the 8th aldermanic district (currently held by Bryon Eagon), before dropping out due to personal issues.

Johnson will be taking on Analiese Eicher, a UW student and active member of the College Democrats.

Analiese Eicher declares for Dane County Board

November 11, 2009

Analiese Eicher, a UW student and member of the College Democrats, has declared her candidacy for the Dane County district 5 seat, which is currently held by former UW student Wyndham Manning.

You can expect the Herald to comment on this development in days to come. The Herald has been the loudest voice against Manning’s perceived slothfulness on the Board.