The following is a guest blog written by Jenni Dye.
In the past year, I’ve shared a lot of my thoughts about Wisconsin politics in bursts of 140 characters or less via my alter ego, @legaleagle. But some things are too important to sum up in so few words – like why I am strongly supporting Kathleen Falk for governor in the Wisconsin primary.
I am by no means a longtime Falk supporter or political insider. I volunteered for Tom Barrett in 2010, and having grown up in Janesville, Russ Feingold was the first politician for whom I developed an admiration. And although I was just elected to the Dane County Board of Supervisors this month, my relationship with politics over the 10 years preceding February 2011 could be described as “dabbling” at best.
In fact, I first met Kathleen in November of 2011. We talked about what we both thought were the most important things to restore to Wisconsin – respect, both for labor and in general; protection of our environment; standing up for public education and women’s rights; and restoring our Wisconsin community and our legacy of good government. I had entered that conversation unsure of who would be our best champion against Walker and left knowing I would support Kathleen Falk if she ran. Not only did she share my values and have strong, progressive positions on the issues, she listened and she shared her views and her vision with me.
A native Wisconsinite, Kathleen Falk shares the values of the Wisconsin I grew up in – respect for each other, investment in public education, and sustainability. But more than that, Falk has a record that shows she is willing to work hard for those values and to bring all the players to the table to try to reach common ground and common sense solutions that promote Wisconsin values. One often touted and important example of this is her negotiations with labor as Dane County Executive, in which she collectively bargained with the unions.
But my favorite example of Falk’s commitment to including everyone in the conversation is outside of the labor context and appears in a piece in Our Lives magazine a piece in Our Lives magazine. She called together environmentalists and developers, and had them place M&Ms on maps of Dane County where they wanted development. At the end of the exercise, all the groups had put the M&Ms in roughly the same places, and they used that as a jumping off point for continued cooperation on development in Dane County.
Although more than willing to work cooperatively with all players, Falk has also proven that, when necessary, she is willing to take a stand for the values we share. She has fought hard both as an attorney and as County Executive to protect Wisconsin’s clean air and water. She is willing to fight to restore collective bargaining, and she has been open and honest with Wisconsin regarding her plan. Perhaps it is possible to sum up my support for Falk in 140 characters or less after all – I know Kathleen Falk will truly fight for all of the Wisconsin values I have been fighting for this year.
Last February and March, I found myself marveling at the sustained backbone displayed by the Democrats in our Wisconsin Legislature – a willingness to stand our ground that is all too often missing on the left side of the aisle. Their willingness to stand with us, to stand up for us, was inspiring and refreshing. Kathleen Falk is the candidate who will bring that backbone to the governor’s office.