Remarks (As Prepared) for Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk’s Third Term Investiture
April 19, 2005
Thank you to the citizens of Dane County for electing me to serve a third term as your County Executive. It is an honor to serve you and make progress on the issues you care most about. We’ve accomplished much in the last 8 years and we need to do more. I look forward to a continued strong working relationship with the county board, other elected officials, and the 60 communities across the county.
My goal is for every child to have a chance to succeed and to have a healthy, safe and fun place to live. To accomplish this goal we must continue to reinvent government to use your tax dollars most efficiently, protect our county’s great natural assets, make sure children have better opportunities by helping their parents get jobs, and lead on drug and alcohol treatment programs that make us smarter on crime.
Being a tough, good fiscal manager of your money is the first part of the job you gave me. My strict property tax standard of “inflation plus population” keeps county property taxes down. That’s one reason Dane County has a AAA bond rating – the highest mark we can receive for our fiscal management (only one other county in the state has this distinction!). We’ve kept taxes down and services high by prioritizing public safety and human services and by merging, consolidating, and reinventing county government and other units of government. We have more to do, such as further steps towards an integrated 911 system countywide. Through these creative solutions, we save taxpayer dollars while continuing the high level of services citizens want and deserve.
The number one problem people tell me they want county leadership on is land use -- How do we accommodate 60,000 new citizens a decade in a way that enhances, instead of diminishes, our quality of life? We’ve taken big steps by bringing diverse interests together – realtors, developers, environmentalists – to get things done. But the biggest step is just ahead. After completing the on-going six months of listening/working sessions across the county on my Attain Dane initiative, I will produce a map of where citizens tell me they want our county to grow and what we want to preserve.
But kids are why I am in public office. With tremendous partnerships, we’ve built a number of truly innovative programs to help kids succeed – home visitation programs and youth resource centers, for examples. But we know this is not enough if their moms and dads have alcohol or drug problems or can’t find a good paying job. Big challenges warrant big solutions. We are in the middle of designing a unique Huber/AODA facility for repeat alcohol offenders – very few places in the country have done this. And we’re a year into our Allied neighborhood work serving the poorest children in our county by helping the moms and dads, one family at a time, find employment.
We’re being smarter on crime, smarter with tax dollars – and turning the lives around for kids and their families.
I am so grateful for your trust and your confidence in my abilities to lead our County. Please keep telling me your priorities and ideas. Together, we will keep Dane County the best place to live.
Lesley Sillaman, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606