Like it or not, election season is here, and today, we begin with District 14, located on the southwest side of Madison. The district sits between just west of Verona Road on the east to Raymond Road in the west, and Gammon Road to the north to Cross Country Road to the south.
The two people running for the seat are incumbent Anthony Gray, and political newcomer Amanda Noles.
Noles is a branch manager at Summit Credit Union in Madison, has three kids, and has lived in the area for most of her life. She says that she is running because she is concerned about the amount of debt Dane County has taken on in the past few years.
“I’m a little bit of a numbers person, so looking at the budgets, and the proposed budget for this next year, one thing that I’m concerned about is the consistent amount of debt that we’re taking on every single year just in the operating budget. Now over the next 20 years, Dane County is going to be paying in, and it’s written into our budget that we will pay $56 million in interest. That’s just interest, that doesn’t include any sort of principle that has to be paid back as well,” Noles says.
Gray is finishing up his first term on the Dane County Board, after being elected to the seat in 2020. Gray is an attorney and also a parent of two young children. Gray went to school at U-W Madison, getting his law degree from the university’s law school in 2007. After a brief stint on the east coast, Gray moved back to Dane County in 2013 to raise his children.
Gray says that his main goal in public office is to address racial inequities in Madison.
“My baseline reason for engaging in public service is because I want to begin to close the wage gap between Black and brown folks and everyone else. There is a problem with the lack of generational wealth in communities of color that puts us at a substantial disadvantage for healthcare, for education, for generalized achievement, for all the indicators of future success. So one of the things I’m trying to do is close that gap,” Gray says.
Gray says that car thefts are one of his biggest concerns in his district.
“One of (the biggest concerns) is personal and property safety. We’ve had a rash of young people stealing and joyriding cars, and there’s a host of that sort of stuff that people are very very concerned about,” Gray says.
According to the Madison Police Department, there were around 70 vehicle thefts in the district last year, compared to around 90 in 20-20 and 94 in 20-19.
Noles says that she too is concerned about her district’s youth committing crimes, saying on her campaign website that quote “repeat juvenile crime in our county is out of control.”
“I’d like to see things in place, I’d like to work with our police department so that, especially our juvenile repeat offenders, have the support they need to make different life changes,” Noles says.
Noles says that she believes that juvenile detention centers are not the correct path for kids who commit crimes, and that looking into ways to help them instead is one of her top priorities.
Yet the two candidates differ when it comes to the role of police.
Noles campaign website voices concern with the lack of support that police officers have in Madison. She says that, with additional funding, Dane County officers can run more efficiently, and that if we do not support our police, soon we won’t have any police to support the community.
Gray, on the other hand, says that he is looking to end qualified immunity for police officers in Dane County. Qualified immunity applies to all public officials, including police officers, and protects them from lawsuits when they are accused of violating rights.
Gray had introduced the measure last year, but it was quickly shot down by the board. He says that he is hopeful that, with a new batch of board members this spring, a resolution to end qualified immunity could go forward.
When it comes to what they are most concerned about, the two candidates are both concerned about money, but they differ when it comes to whose money.
Gray says that the lack of affordable housing in Dane County is of major concern, and is one of the issues that he is most concerned with.
“There’s a massive gap on affordable housing, and all housing in Dane County, frankly, but certainly affordable housing, housing that working folks can afford to live in. It’s a massive crisis. There are towns around Dane County where the employees who work in those towns literally cannot afford to live in them. And that is… I think economically that’s a crisis, and morally that’s a failing,” Gray says.
On the other hand, Noles reiterates that she is concerned about Dane County’s budget, and says that addressing that will be her number one priority.
“There’s a lot of things that need to be addressed in Dane County, so it’s hard to say that this is the one thing that’s pulling on my heartstrings, but from a financial standpoint what we are doing is not sustainable. We have to find a way to live within our budget, and not take on debt every single year,” Noles says.
Noles did not give any specific examples of where Dane County should spend less money.
The 2022 spring election takes place on April 5th.
Photo courtesy: Dane County Board of Supervisors